Opinion: ‘What should Peterborough’s Christmas tree look like?’

Toby Wood, of Peterborough Civic Society writes...

Saturday, 18th December 2021, 10:31 am
Christmas tree design SUS-211214-152929001

I reckon that I am not alone in liking and praising the Christmas lighting in the city centre, on Bridge Street and Long Causeway in particular.

The Guildhall lighting is fun, tasteful and has a classy look about it. However, the civic Christmas tree is ordinary, tucked away near the Guildhall in the corner of Cathedral Square.

Next year it would be great to have something more distinctive and therefore potentially controversial.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

After all, there’s nothing like a row about a Christmas tree to wake Peterborough people from their collective slumber!

So, bearing in mind that in 2022 it may well be the government that is in charge of Peterborough’s finances as opposed to the council, let us encourage our political masters to consider two things.

First let’s ask them to erect a traditional Christmas tree, however weedy or willocky, in the same place next year, but, secondly, let’s ask for a few quid from the rich man’s table to give to an arts organisation to provide an alternative city centre tree that has flair and individualism and which will bring a smile to people’s faces.

The idea for this has come from the good folk of Wells-Next-The-Sea which has a 15-foot-high ‘tree’ of fishing equipment – nets, crab pots and buoys – (see picture) situated on the quayside.

It really is a stunning installation, worthy of note.

Nobody seems to complain that it’s not traditional, there appears to be a general feeling that it represents what Wells is about.

So, Peterborough, let’s get creative in 2022.

In the same way that we have an annual poet laureate competition, why not have an annual Christmas tree design competition or perhaps ask local creatives to come up with suitable ideas. A safe conical structure could be (literally) wheeled out every year to be decorated by a chosen community group whose idea for decoration has been selected from a shortlist of designs.

This might be a great project for youth groups, Scouts and Guides or arts groups to be involved with. The whole project could be coordinated by one of the prominent local arts organisations, for example Metal.

Alternatively, the project could be one of the contributions made to the city by our new fledgling university, this could be a perfect opportunity for design or engineering departments to showcase their skills, ideas and talents.

There is a variety of ways that the alternative tree could be decorated.

Maybe ideas may come from Peterborough’s newer community groups. Traditional Christmas designs from Latvia, Lithuania, Portugal or Poland might be suitable, this both recognising Peterborough’s newest communities’ contributions whilst simultaneously educating older, more settled Peterborians as to the ways and customs of our newer residents.

And, while we’re at it, why don’t some of the city’s newer employers show willing by sponsoring this new initiative. Amazon – here’s looking at you kid! We are a rapidly expanding city. Businesses and organisations coming to our city should show initiative and leadership. Now’s your chance to impress!

I fully accept there will be a few doom-mongers and naysayers who will have a moan about this as not being ‘traditional’, these are the very same people who, after a thrilling 5-0 Posh home win (rare these days) are heard to complain that we didn’t score six. My answer to them would be “well we have still got the traditional tree on the other side of the square and if you don’t like it, suggest something better”!

Peterborough is a large, vibrant city which is yet to fully demonstrate pride and a strong sense of identity. Surely now is the time to collectively stand up tall, puff our chests out and be proud!

May I take this opportunity to thank readers for continued interest and support in the civic society and its aims and views this year.

If anyone wishes to become a member please contact us via our website – we would welcome you with open arms! But, perhaps most importantly, please keep buying the dear old Peterborough Telegraph, still a place to express views, share ideas and gain new information.

Merry Christmas and a happy New Year to one and all.