…if you’re of a certain age and those words evoke me memories, then you MUST get over to the Lowry and catch their exhibition of that name, celebrating the story of BBC’s children’s television – past, present and future. Not having children – and therefore no longer an expert on children’s TV – the present and future parts of the exhibition were largely overlooked by me, but I’m sure they were really fab and interesting. It’s just when you have Noggin the Nog and The Clangers and the windows from Playschool, all right there, in front of you… Who wouldn’t be transported back a good few years?
The exhibition is free and runs until Sunday 12th October. With or without children, it’s definitely right up there as one of the best exhibitions I’ve been to in a long while. And that includes an exhibition in Italy featuring iconic football memorabilia. So, it’s good! And you must go…
When going through previous WestFest photos, I found this one from a couple of years ago – when further drainage work was being done, just after the horrendous six month Burton Road closure.
The road is no longer closed, but just thought this summed up the spirit of both West Didsbury & WestFest. And we are DEFINITELY very much open over the weekend of Saturday 30th August and Sunday 31st August for our SIXTH WestFest. Come visit – you’ll have a FAB time :-)
As well as our long-standing businesses in West Didsbury, (see yesterday’s blog) we’ve also been so lucky over the WestFest years, to have a number of brilliant new independents set up shop/bar/restaurant in our community.
As we said yesterday, being an independent in this climate is hard. (It’s hard enough for chains, so imagine if you’re a one-man/woman set up…) But, people still have visions and passion and that belief that not everyone wants an identikit high street and so hello to these businesses who’ve joined us in recent years…
In a climate of doom & gloom on the high street, with constant tales of crippling rents and greedy landlords and exorbitant business rates and small, independents suffering at the hands of big chains and out of town superstores, we think we have a very positive story, right here in West Didsbury.
Although there has been some change on our high street – see our previous blog – it seems that our little corner of independents, is bucking the trend. No-one would argue that being a small, independent businesses – particularly, a daytime retailer – isn’t hard. It is. It can be lonely, too – especially when footfall isn’t great. BUT, just looking the businesses who are now about to celebrate the SIXTH WestFest, it just shows that hard work, positive thinking AND a belief in what you do, works wonders. And, not forgetting the loyal customers who help these businesses to thrive.
So, in no particular order, hello to our WESTFEST LONG-STANDERS. You help t0 make West Didsbury – and WestFest – what it is!
So, we’re about to launch our SIXTH WestFest! We can’t believe how quickly time has flown since those initial chats with Justin in Folk about having a “bit of a festival” to now having a well established, popular, and well attended festival year on year, which celebrates our West Didsbury independents. Whilst working on the website, trawling through photos, we thought that this was just the time to showcase and to name-check those businesses who have been an integral part of the make-up of West Didsbury, but have now moved onto other things…
We’re still very much in touch with most of these businesses and are delighted to say that they’re all doing very well. Clearly, West Didsbury is a great launching pad :)
Next blog – hello to those who’ve joined us…
That’s right. A banquet. In a baths. Withington Swimming Baths & Leisure Centre, or, to be more precise, the Zumba Room. It all sounds a bit bonkers, and to be honest, as we were arranging it, we did question our sanity. So, what was it all about?
It was about showcasing that one day, hopefully in the not too distant future, the tired-around-the-edges but beautiful Edwardian building on Burton Road, can be an amazing community venue. The Love Withington Baths group is currently finalising the business plan and architects plans are being drawn up as we’re aiming for a successful Community Asset Transfer, meaning that when the City Council relinquishes control in Spring 2015, we’ll take it over as a community concern.
So, big visions need big ideas and this was why we roped in The Drunken Butcher, to host a Summer Banquet Extravaganza. If we’d sold 20 tickets (at £20 per head) for our 5 course event, we’d have been delighted. However, on the day, it was a sell-out (40 tickets) and we could probably have sold more – lesson learned for next time. Aim higher :)
It was an amazing event, with generous spirited community supporters. There was NO guest list – everyone, including the organisers & the invited *VIPs* – paid. We wanted to start out as we mean to go on & that meant everyone was equal. No freebies on our watch! And, if you couldn’t make it, here’s what you missed…
The Love Withington Baths website is due to be launched and you can see the professional shots, by Ayesha Rahman, who gave up her time to pop along and shoot the event. Thanks also to Ian Devine (The Drunken Butcher), Heli, Cat, Kate at Reserve Wines, Sarah at Cocoa-Cabana and Sian at The Flower Lounge. We couldn’t have done it without you!
Follow Love Withington Baths on Twitter for very exciting news, which we hope to release very soon…
If you’d like to become a FRIEND of Withington Baths, we’d literally love you forever, as just £5 will go a long way to enabling us to realise the community vision. Surveys, architects plans, feasibility studies need to be funded, so if you can help, that would be AMAZING! Just pop over to the website & click on the “Fiver Fever” link, then the “Donate” button on our BT charity page.
When I was a child growing up in the North East, we didn’t have big out-of-town superstores. Or even big stores. When Eldon Square in Newcastle opened when I was a teenager, it was as if Las Vegas had been transported to the NE. Big, bright & shiny and so much choice. As a teenager, it was great – but looking back I can see that it really affected the high streets of the towns and villages round about. Mine included. Slowly but surely, the fruit & veg shop dwindled, the proper sweet shop gave way to the confectionery aisle in the supermarkets which were springing up, and the local weekly market, once really thriving, was nothing more than a few stalls selling mostly knock-off rubbish.
Followers of Didsbury Life will know that we are really committed to supporting independent businesses. And we’re now really, really happy to have the fabulous Makers’ Market in West Didsbury every last Sunday of the month. As was said on twitter this morning, it does what it says on the tin – because it’s a market full of people who make and create. The organisers are determined that it will complement the independent businesses in West Didsbury, not compete – and that’s what it seems to be doing. As well as jewellery, art, mosaics, accessories and food stalls selling meats, breads, cheeses etc there is also a mini stage, curated by the guys at The Epicurean. It’s so lovely to hear live music rather than generic “pop” over loud speakers.
And tomorrow, joining the line-up is our friend, Mike Garry. He’s a poet. And if you’ve never heard him before, prepare to be blown away. It’s not every day that someone we know gets to perform at The Carnegie Hall with the likes of New Order, Patti Smith & Iggy Pop or goes on a national tour with John Cooper Clarke. And you can catch him tomorrow at 2.45pm in West Didsbury. Pretty cool, eh? (Check out his wife Amanda’s stall, as she’ll be there with her iconic mosaics…)
And talking of great markets, if you’ve not checked out the weekly Levenshulme Market (every Saturday), then you must! This is another that has organisers who seem to listen to what people actually want and who understand the importance that markets have for start up independent businesses. With a weekly rotating theme, you’ll see a real variety of traders – and it has that community feel in abundance. Which is why it ticks our boxes :)