A tale of two towns

I would like to join the ongoing debate regarding the trials and tribulations of Gainsborough town centre and the impact of Marshall’s Yard.

In the halcyon days of 2007 Marshall’s Yard was seen as a positive contribution to the rejuvenation of the town. Sadly, like many post industrial towns Gainsborough has witnessed the demise of major employers with a subsequent culture of

high unemployment forcing people to travel far and wide to gain employment.

Six years later the inevitable appears to be happening with a shift from the historic centre of the town with its many fine Georgian facades and buildings

to Marshall’s Yard. Many new visitors to the town are unlikely to be aware of the centre and this is in large part due to the introverted nature of Marshall’s

Yard behind tall enclosing fortress walls and across the very busy Beaumont Street which acts as a psychological barrier to pedestrian movement. There

is no clearly defined route between the centre of Gainsborough and Marshall’s Yard and any opportunity to provide connectivity has not been exploited. The faceless multi-storey car park although permeable at concourse level does not clearly lead visitors to the town and more should have been made of this route between the centre and the shopping complex.

The mood around Marshall’s Yard is very different to that of the town centre with an exclusive selection of 4 x 4’s and high powered sports cars suggesting

wealthy visitors are the principle patrons of the complex. In contrast parts of the centre resemble an Eastern Bloc town with countless empty units and a general rundown feel. The new paving is perhaps a start, but surely what is needed is a rejuvenation of the sixties shop fronts to encourage visitors to

explore the centre and not just Marshall’s Yard which should only ever have been a subsidiary to the town centre. It is worth questioning why some of the smaller businesses in Marshall’s Yard could not have been placed in the empty town units.

In my opinion Marshall’s Yard is a very deliberate attempt to gentrify the town and this coupled with high unemployment levels and the construction of many

housing estates could result in the area becoming a dormitory for commuters.

Gainsborough has some fine history with one of the best preserved Tudor manor houses in the country and more should be done to capitalise on this and bring people and trade back into the town centre.

Although I am not especially in favour of the demolition of the former Guild Hall, if the redevelopment of Elswitha Quarter takes some of the overrated

attention away from Marshall’s Yard and brings more of a focus back to the town then all the better!

Paul Stephen Skepper

BA (Hons) Dip Arch