Opinion: 'Join us in celebrating our great city', writes Civic Society's Toby Wood

Five short films of Peterborough by air will go on display tomorrow in Cathedral Square

By The Newsroom
Friday, 17th June 2022, 3:49 pm
Head down to Cathedral Square on Saturday, June 17 to witness unique never-been-seen-before images of Peterborough by air.
Head down to Cathedral Square on Saturday, June 17 to witness unique never-been-seen-before images of Peterborough by air.

This Saturday (June 18) is National Civic Day, a day designed to inspire residents all over the country to ‘take action’ and 'be civic', 'be innovative', 'be thought-provoking' to transform their historic high street.

Powered by Civic Voice, National Civic Day is part of a growing movement looking to change how people collaborate and interact with the place where they live. Civic Voice, of which Peterborough Civic Society is a member, encourages people to care about where they live and to foster a sense of place.

This is particularly relevant in Peterborough, a veritable minestrone of a city into which so many different people have migrated over the years. My own grandparents came from Yorkshire to work on the railways and from Birmingham to work at Perkins Engines. Other incomers came from the Fens to work in our engineering industries, Polish people came here during World War Two and Italians moved here later to work in the brick yards. Afro-Caribbeans, Pakistanis, Indians, South Asians, Portuguese, eastern Europeans and, of course, refugees from Vietnam, Uganda and, most recently Ukraine, have all moved here and contribute to our ever-changing city. And that’s not counting those from London, Glasgow, Belfast and other places who moved here when the Development Corporation expanded the city in the 1970s and 1980s. Peterborough has changed, grown and developed far more than most places in the UK. So it could be argued that we need to encourage pride of place more than other more established and settled communities.

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Over the past few weeks, the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee has made us all think about who we are and how best we can contribute to the city. Some people threw themselves into celebrations by hosting street parties or adorning their houses with bunting.

One thing surely binds us all together, the wish to make the city a ‘better place’. Our local political leaders all claim to be wanting the best for the city; it’s just priorities, approaches, methods and ways of looking at things that are different.

Peterborough Civic Society has commissioned something that will hopefully be a lasting reminder not only of the Jubilee but also 2022 itself. We asked Terry Harris, a local photographer with a national reputation, to film the city centre from the air with his state-of-the-art drones. He has obliged and has produced five short films, above the Cathedral and routes to the north, south, east and west. He has then painstakingly put all these together into a longer version.

As part of Civic Day we are holding the world premiere of these films this Saturday at Cathedral Square. Chris Pallister, of Service-AV, has let us hire his LED truck and this will be on the Square from 9am-4.30pm. Come along and have a look for yourself! Civic Society members will be there so why not stop by, have a chat and tell us what your priorities are for Peterborough. After Saturday we intend to put the films on to YouTube so people from all over the world can see what our city looks like from the air.

In 50 years’ time, Peterborough will have continued to grow and develop. Perhaps the Embankment will be used for Nenebury, the successor to Glastonbury. Brexit may still be in the process of ‘being done’ and Posh will undoubtedly be in the Premier League, finishing just above Manchester United, thus gaining a place in European competitions. Global warming may have taken hold and, together with the exorbitant cost of foreign travel, families will enjoy holidays on the Costa del Turves. I sincerely trust that YouTube (or its successor) will still exist so that people can visit the ‘Above Peterborough 2022’ page and see what our dear old city was like in ’the old days’.

See you on Saturday!