Opinion: ‘Let’s show off Peterborough a little more’

Toby Wood, of Peterborough Civic Society, writes...

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 23rd October 2021, 12:15 pm
Peterborough Cathedral.
Peterborough Cathedral.

On September 18, Peterborough United played Birmingham City at home.

The visitors brought 4,000 supporters to the city, many of them had never been to Peterborough before. After the match a Birmingham supporter, Lee Hinton, wrote on Twitter, “Had no idea Peterborough was so nice!”

He posted photos of the cathedral, Guildhall, Cathedral Square and St John’s Church.

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A week or so earlier a supporter from West Bromwich Albion, also in Peterborough for the first time, asked the ticket office manager at Posh (coincidentally my son Dan) where was a good place to go for a drink and a meal. Dan was able to point him just over the road, Charters as it happens. The supporter and his wife were in Peterborough for the weekend and were clearly interested in what Peterborough has to offer.

The following day the West Brom fan popped back to say thank you.

This got me thinking. Surely there must be an easy way for shops and businesses to let visitors know what’s available in the city, just basic information that can be given out – nothing complicated or intricate, just a taster, a starter, even a teaser.

Whilst enjoying a meal at the excellent Cote Brasserie in Church Street I discussed this with my wife, the current Mrs Wood (of 49 years), and she came up with an idea that is so logical and simple.

Why don’t we devise an A5 folded menu card that can be easily produced and distributed round shops, restaurants, hotels, clubs, pubs and other businesses? The card, entitled ‘While You’re Here …’ would include small photos and basic details of just a few of our more obvious go-to destinations – the cathedral, Ferry Meadows, Queensgate, Posh, John Clare Cottage, Flag Fen and perhaps a few more of our prime attractions.

The menu card would contain basic information, a website address, phone number, a few photographs, nothing more. It would be freely available in all major shops, hotels, bars and restaurants.

The card would have the current year’s date prominently displayed and would be updated annually so as not to appear out of date. In addition the information could also be included on the Posh home match programme thus reinforcing the link between the city’s cultural and sporting assets.

After all, we are trying to make Peterborough look and sound cohesive. Surely such a ‘While You’re Here’ card should be easy to design, fund and organise?

Peterborough has a number of potentially exciting new initiatives at the moment, which fit well into the Peterborough promotion/visitor centre agenda.

The main one is the Towns Fund.

This is a £3.6 billion fund investing in towns and cities as part of the government’s much-vaunted plan to level up the regions. Councils can bid for money for specific projects that they believe will upgrade and enhance towns and cities. Peterborough has submitted a bid which covers ten areas or topics. Details of all these can be found on the internet by searching for ‘Peterborough Towns Fund bid’. By far the largest, most complicated and potentially most prestigious is the bid’s flagship project, The Vine, which is a plan to refurbish what we know as the TK Maxx (formerly Woolworths) building in Bridge Street, turning it into a ‘new library, culture and community hub’, complete with visitor centre. I’m sure that I speak for many Peterborians when I yet again urge the city council to ensure that, as part of any new development, this visitor centre is well-staffed and smooth-functioning.

I shall bang on about it until it happens!

In connection with promoting Peterborough, readers may remember that, between 2017 and 2020, the civic society installed a total of 36 blue plaques in and around the city centre. Simultaneously a 24-page brochure was produced describing all the plaques. This was made possible due to financial help from the society, Heritage Lottery Fund and the city council.

This brochure is now freely available from Peterborough Museum, central library and the cathedral shop and, as from this week, at the Mini-Vine shop in Bridge Street. Help yourself and seek out all the plaques!