Overnight in Tamworth; 23 Aug 10

Tamworth isn’t an obvious leisure destination. I first remembered it as a town on the A5 which I used to drive along half a dozen times a year to and from University. But those days are long gone and now there’s the M6 so many people wouldn’t know where Tamworth is these days.

But Tamworth has character: there’s a castle and a splendid parish church (St Editha’s), there’s the UK’s only indoor ski slope and it has its own borough council. There’s also a blog (click here). The centre is pedestrianised and those streets that aren’t closed to traffic are one way. That makes it pretty difficult for visitors to get to their destinations if they come by car.

My first impression was colored by what I saw of the Precinct, a classic 60s or 70s shopping centre which is now derelict. However I later found that this is due for redevelopment. This makes sense because elsewhere in the town I saw vigour, diversity and civic pride.

Just down the road from the Precinct is a wonderful building, the Cooperative Industrial Society, which houses Co-ops of all manner. They even stray into adjacent buildings. And further along when I was out buying a newspaper on Tuesday morning I witnessed the market being built, not a couple of sad stalls but scores of them across 2 streets. A mix of out-of-town traders in for market day and local shops expanding onto the street. And these local shops are local. The big chains are no doubt present but they don’t seem to dominate as they do elsewhere.

The pride is in the flowers. Tamworth is very floral. Let’s hope that Tamworth’s borough council protects this budget as it implements the necessary cuts of this year and next. There is a value to civic pride and what would replace the flowers? More graffiti?

I stayed at the Globe Inn. It’s the sort of hotel which I guess would once have been patronised by ‘commercial travellers’. Perfectly OK, clean and comfortable and, as would be necessary for today’s commercial traveller, free wireless internet. The pub and hotel are now separate and although the former boasts a restuarant this is more microwave than gastro. And with it being Monday evening there didn’t seem much alternative so I ate in. Cottage pie and a salad with English dressing and a glass of draft wine: not totally bad.

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