Reader letter: Old Bath Street is a fading memory

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In her letter ‘No flats at old Co-op’, Ilkeston Advertiser, March 26, Mrs Mathews refers to the decline of Ilkeston starting with the relief road and the pedestrianisation of Bath Street.

Whilst I will totally agree about the total disaster of the relief road being driven through the centre of town, she is way off track with regards to pedestrianisation.

I was born within sight of Bath Street almost 74 years ago. I spent most of my first 20 years living close by and I started my working life on Bath Street.

Can I therefore ask Mrs Mathews if she enjoyed shopping on Bath Street in those early years with a young family, frantically trying to keep young children safely on pavements with traffic roaring by belching exhaust fumes in their faces, whilst trying to engage in shopping as well? I would ask her and Maggie Throup with her campaign to think again.

The decline in Bath Street started after the war in the late 1940/50s, prior to this people didn’t travel out of town very much, with limited wages and low expectations everything was available on Bath Street. I well recall people starting to enjoy shopping trips to Nottingham and Derby, more cars started to appear on the roads and everyone started to escape the confines of limited shopping on the hillside of Bath Street.

This is the time that town planners should have started to look to future trends but they failed then and, in my view, they are failing Ilkeston now.

I suggested some 20 years ago on this letters page that thought should be given to a plan for gradual movement of shopping to the higher reaches of the town with the Market Place taking centre stage with the area below Station Road given over to residential use.

I keep hearing people say that we need Marks & Spencer, British Home Stores back again in Ilkeston, but this will never happen.

These stores are struggling to make a profit in the large cities these days.

We have to accept that the Bath Street I grew up with, its multiple butchers, bakers , fish shops , grocers, shoe shops, gents’ outfitters and ladies dress and hat shops, not to mention tripe shops amongst many others, are but a page in our history books, a fading memory.

We have to start planning NOW before we fail our children and great grandchildren any further and Ilkeston becomes merely a dormitory.

A smaller concentration of specialist shops, local butchers, bakers and all the other small shops around the market area along with, as Danny Corns stated, bringing the council chamber back into joint public/council use.

It would also be wonderful to have a developer tear down the whole of the Co-op building and replace it with a series of smaller shops with a function room/restaurant above, combine all this with plenty of car parking and Ilkeston shopping can survive. But planners, councillors, are you listening? Forward planning MUST start now. And please Mrs Mathew’s and Maggie Throup, please, please don’t hammer the final nails into the destruction of Bath Street by opening it up to traffic again.

Alwyn Holmes

Sudbury Avenue, Ilkeston