Sunday, 11 May 2008

Canning Circus and the General Cemetery

Canning Circus towards Wollaton Street (left) and Derby Road (right), 3pm.

Canning Circus towards the old almhouses and entrance to the General Cemetery.

General Cemetery entrance off Alfreton Road on the north side of Canning Circus.

General Cemetery main footpath.

General Cemetery, from main footpath, looking up towards Alfreton Road entrance.

General Cemetery war memorial by north-east entrance, where Waverly and Goldsmith streets meet.

Yesterday afternoon (Saturday) I wandered into town to do some quick shopping and decided to go via the Derby Road to Canning Circus, then down through Nottingham's General Cemetery to the Arboretum and the Victoria Shopping Centre. Partly because I felt in need of a walk after three hectic days in Eastbourne attending my step-father's funeral and spending time with my children and eldest grand-daughters, which was the plus side of the trip.

The other thing which prompted me to walk into town, instead of Beeston (which is where I go to do nearly all our food shopping) was a comment by a lady at the first meeting of the Nottingham Open Spaces Forum (NOSF). I think it was Ursula from Old Radford who mentioned how awful Canning Circus looks after the recent changes to its layout. Normally I pass through on a bus, as I rarely walk in or out of town this way because whatever way you go you have climb a steep hill to reach Canning Circus. The only compensation for the effort is the fact that you go downhill on the other side!

As for the state of Canning Circus I think the above pictures tell you why Ursula is right. It has been turned into a huge mass of heat generating concrete and tarmac with a few saplings here and there. More by chance, then intention, this blog about Canning Circus links in with my last posting about streets without trees in and around Lenton. What Canning Circus should be is a green oasis on the top of a hill, providing Nottingham city centre with a 'green gateway'.

What the above pictures tell us is that Nottingham City Council has a long way to go before it can claim to be a 'green council'. If this is an example of council officers being left to get on with the job then it is a pity that city councillors did not interfere and stop this concrete and tarmac monstrosity being created. If some councillors did know and let it go ahead then shame on them.

This is the kind of issue which needs to be considered by NOSF. I suspect there are other examples of where concrete and tarmac have been chosen by the city planners instead of trees and lots of greenery.

But as my heading says, this blog is also about Nottingham's General Cemetery, which can be entered through a large archway situated in the middle of some former almhouses, which have been turned into privately rented accommodation, and is located on the north side of Canning Circus. I chose to walk down the main pathway, which is down some steps to the left of the entrance though the old almhouses. Apart from seeing three groups of teenagers sitting about, there was no one else in the cemetery. The first group I saw decided to have some fun with me and came across and blocked the path, so I sidestepped them and walked by the grass, whereupon one of the group said to me "You know you can't walk on the grass?" and the group sniggered. By this point I was on the other of the group, so I replied "Thank you for telling me" and continued downhill and across the grass to the war memorial and cemetery's other entrance.

Now these teenagers may well have been told by another adult or official about being on the grass and sitting on the tombs, so they saw me as a way of getting back at 'authority'. Whatever the reason for the way they behaved it was intimidating and I can well understand why older people especially avoid walking in places where few other people are about. Like an experience I had last year whilst I was voluntarily locking Lenton Recreation Ground at night, it was unsettling, but not as threatening. I don't have any problem with teenagers in the Cemetery, but it would be nice if it was better policed, so that would-be users like myself could feel safer.

Before I left, I spent a few minutes looking at the cemetery's war memorial, which as you can see from the above picture was shimmering white in the sun. At first I thought it sad that many of names of the fallen are no longer legible, but on reflection I like the fact that the names are fading, becoming ghostly in appearance, as if this very act is allowing their souls (and us) to move on. Of course it is important that we don't forget and that we care for our war memorials, but just like the tombs and medieval wall paintings in churches they should be conserved rather than restored. As I left a man of about my own age came towards the memorial with two young boys and I heard him say "You see all those names they are of people like us who died fighting for this country and we should be very proud of what they did' after which I heard no more. I was at the gate and looking across to the Arboretum — which I will tell you about in my next blog posting, probably on Tuesday.

Oxfam warned today that the numbers killed by Cyclone Nargis could reach 1.5 million, fifteen times the number currently predicted and far greater than the numbers of those killed by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

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