A view backstage at Beverley Minster

Bright new beginnings

Neil Pickford looks around

As all good resolutions made for the new year fade into history it is time to grab 2013 by the shoulders and look it firmly in the eye. What, my loyal readers are begging, do I think will happen in the forthcoming year?

Well, now we haven’t got things like the Olympics and associated torch-related celebrations coming to our fair town, we must look more to ourselves for entertainment and inspiration – and what better news can there be than the announcement that we will soon be able to open the west end of the Minster churchyard for people to wander around – maybe even picnic in if the weather permits?

Now one or two of you might just remember that this was a prediction I made for 2012 and you may point fingers of scorn at me in consequence. Well, yah boo and sucks back you unforgiving fellows because I did use the word ‘probably’ – and I had my fingers crossed at the same time.

Actually I wasn’t that far out: the council, who have responsibility for maintaining redundant churchyards, did start work on making the area safe last year but it wasn’t possible to complete it in time for summer, so it was decided to aim for this year instead – and work appears to be progressing roughly to plan. So, with any luck, you’ll be able to get up close and personal with the Minster from the outside as well as inside this year.

John and I will be equipped with large, pointy sticks to maintain discipline and make sure everyone is out when we lock up – we’re looking forward to that.

On a more controversial note; by the time you read this a decision may very well have been made on removing/preserving the setts in Saturday Market. I doubt you’ve missed the fact that some people are very upset about this, claiming that they are a wonderful remnant of Beverley’s mediaeval past.

Well, we at Beverley Minster are blessed by the presence of someone who, if they ever appeared on Mastermind, would easily win with their specialist subject ‘Everything about Beverley over the last 100 years – and beyond’. He assures us that the original setts were actually covered over in the 1970s and then lifted, to be replaced in 1986 by setts bought from Hull docks. It is, apparently, these Johnny-come-lately black, rectangular objects that have caused so much angst.

I’m not going to add my own knowledge on the subject because I haven’t got any, except to note that it’s marginally less difficult to push a pram or wheelchair over the setts than it is over the adjacent pavements.  They were a feature of Beverley when I moved here 12 years ago and, frankly, I never really noticed them because I was always distracted by the depressing eyesore that is the rest of the surface in Saturday Market. Good grief, when I was a child we used to park in Bristol on tidier left-over bombsites. It’s a pity we couldn’t all agree on a scheme to beautify the place a few years ago.

Oh, I know we need parking spaces near the shops, but what’s wrong with knocking down the grotty old Minster Towers site by Wednesday Market and extending the existing car park behind it? All talk about housing and shops on the site seems to have died down, so why not?  Be convenient for the Minster too, and counterbalance the pull of the retail development on Hodgson’s old site.

Oh dear, my mind seems to be belting around in all directions at the moment – I blame my medication. Sorry if I’ve offended anyone but, at least, thanks to the Government’s recent decision to amend Section 5 of the Public Order Act it’s not against the law. What a relief.


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