Monday, November 01, 2010

Radio Times...

Every day, whilst working in my shop, I chat to most of the visitors through its doors. Understandably, one of the most common topics that we discuss, is the upcoming BBC series; a lot of which was filmed outside my shop on the Market Place. I am still surprised to hear local people saying it will be an interesting series, but no one will know that it was filmed in Shepton Mallet.

Some of these customers are no longer regular visitors to their local high street. Its a shame that a little pride in the place seems to have been lost. I make it a point to reassure them wholeheartedly that viewers to the series will be left in no doubt that it was indeed filmed in their town. Research into its history was important to the producers of Wall to Wall, and I feel sure that they will include much of the information that they discovered. Also, I regularly heard the presenters of the show saying, 'This week, lets give the people of Shepton Mallet...'
The modern high street is under threat these days. Many do their shopping on-line, or are happy to push a trolley around a soulless superstore. I do believe that the BBC programme tomorrow will have people thinking again about using their local high streets and to regain a sense of local community. I know myself how good I feel inside when I have spoken to someone and have had an opportunity to chat about their day. Having spent almost 7 years selling on-line, I know the flip side - It is very isolating. Seeing people out on the Market Place, bumping into friends and neighbours and stopping for a quick chat, goes some way in keeping the community alive. To stop for half an hour and perhaps share a coffee in one of the cafes can be good for the soul.
It is my belief that the high street is the hub of the local community. My favourite eras during the filming were the Victorian and Edwardian ones. Much of the trading spilled out onto the Market Place and people became more involved with one another. By the 1970's it was all for convenience, speed and done behind closed doors on conveyor belts...people were no longer interacting.
Also, at the end of each era, an event was filmed where the whole of the town could come together. For the first episode, it was the Victorian Market. It was fantastic to see the amount of people in the town on that day, and went some way to prove that Shepton could regenerate and become the town that it once was. If events were regularly organised in the town, then people would come...Hopefully the Victorian Event organised for tomorrow evening will prove this point.
(click on the picture above to read.)
For those in any doubt, (I know some local people read my blog via the website 'Shepton Life'), here is an article in this weeks Radio Times. It clearly mentions Shepton Mallet, and rest assured, it will be mentioned in the programme itself too!
Here it is mentioned in the schedule as well!

I do have visitors to my shop who have come from other areas around Britain. They tell me of their local high street, or of one near to them, that is suffering in the same ways as Shepton. So although the new programme has the added interest to me and the residence of Shepton and the surrounding areas, of being filmed there, I think it will be of great benefit to the whole of the UK, in that it will make people see that if they don't use their local high streets, that they could lose them forever, possibly along with the community that it supports.

Fingers and toes crossed that it will be a wake-up call and we can all fight back and do our bit, during the difficult times ahead...
Hope you enjoy 'Turn Back Time; the High Street' if you watch it tomorrow evening,
Niki x


  1. Well done Niki!
    You'd already 'sold' Shepton Mallett to me, and I live in the heart of Leicesterhsire!
    I would love to live somewhere like it!

    Sandie xx

  2. I am looking forward to the programme and have really enjoyed reading about its production on your blog. I used to visit Somerset frequently when I was younger but now we speed past on the way to Cornwall although I have a cousin who still lives and works on the Levels. We are lucky in my seaside town in Sussex to still have several streets with individual shops which my whole family enjoy shopping in but the out of town superstores are my pet hate. Karen

  3. I cannot wait to see the programe. I wanted to visit you back in September, but we couldn't find you - long story but I will make it one day. I love the picture of the Radio Times cover. I collect those, I blogged about them today.
    Julie xxxxxxxx

  4. The same thing is happening here, only we don't have a High Street, being a larger city. But we are losing so many of our distinctive privately owned shops to buy-outs from large corporations like Walgreen's, Walmart, and RiteAid. Our local pharmacy and gift shop which contained a postal substation was bought up by a California developer. The competition is so stiff, and sometimes a developer buys the whole strip mall and raises the lease price to force the little guy out. The customers lose, sadly.

  5. Very good post, Niki, well done!

  6. I think the "high street" type parts of town would only be saved if there were all kinds of shopping to be done there. Boutique shops, like yours Niki, cannot be the only shops there. You need stores that sell needed items like food and clothing to be side by side with yours to bring in the shoppers. It won't happen. Our local "old town" part of Folsom, used to have a hardware and a grocery, but since the larger stores came in with their big parking lots and every item you could ever want, the "old town" has become a lot of boutiques. They try to bring in customers by running "sidewalk sales" and special summer nights of live music on the street with vendors selling farm produce and specialty salsas, etc. It helps, but not much. I love the old time buildings and the history, but lets face it... we can't come in droves if there's no place to park. Sorry to be the doom and gloom. Progress just isn't lovely.
    <3 Terri

  7. Hi Terri,
    Thank you for your comment on my blog. I wasn't trying to suggest that we fill Shepton Mallet with boutiques...I realise that a town needs to offer more than 'wants', but 'needs' too. Shepton does have plenty of places to park, has cafes, a couple of small grocers, a hardware shop, computer shop, pubs, speciality services such as launderette and post office etc. But it also has a lot of empty shops which need to be filled to bring more people to the town. I feel that if Shepton could become known for certain types of shops, then it would have tourists visiting too, who would in turn use the cafes and buy the more 'every day' merchandise that they needed as well from the shops I mentioned above. In the UK our towns are generally small and support not only people living in those towns, but many surrounding villages. By encouraging tourism, money coming into these smaller towns will increase and the towns survive. Shepton is steeped in history (I have the Market Cross outside my shop dating from the 1500’s) – It would be a shame to lose this because there was no money coming in for its upkeep. I also believe it is important to keep communities intact as much as possible, or we will all become very isolated people. Shepton is flanked on all sides by successful towns and cities, such as Wells, Glastonbury, Frome and Bath…these are all doing well, so there is no reason why Shepton can’t too…it just needs to reinvent itself a little…some of the older residents are tired of trying, but the incomers and younger generation are keen to try some new tactics…I think slowly things will progress for the better.
    The market was re-launched this May, and now the Friday Market day is the busiest day of our week on the high street. The shops are reaping the rewards of the larger footfall that the market brings to the town. By organising other regular events, more people will come…
    The large superstore Tesco (built far too close to the town I might add) recently applied to have a cafĂ© on their sight. There was uproar from local residents and many people signed a petition against it. Tesco have now withdrawn their application. Progress doesn’t always happen for them when people are willing to stand up for what they believe is right or wrong.
    My shop is surviving quite nicely, thank you. I am more than paying the bills, but have to work hard at it by balancing attending fairs and selling a little on-line. I’m sure it is the same for many small businesses, who have learned to fight for what you believe in. I work closely with Belinda at No.21 and we encourage each other and try to come up with new ideas. I think between us we have also helped to inspire Mandy and Zoe to open their shop on the high street too. I know I shall never be a millionaire(!), that’s not my aim, but I do need to pay bills and keep my family fed. Things are moving in the right direction for Shepton, but it will take time…Progress doesn’t have to be doom and gloom, not always, if people work together.

    Just felt I needed to defend my blog post a little…hope you understand,

  8. It sounds really lovely! I cant wait to see the show, i saw lots of clips for it on different things over the weekend!

  9. Hi Niki
    This is a great post and so very pertinent. I'm excited about watching the programme tonight :-)
    It is so very sad that high streets are losing the buzz they had only twenty years ago. I don't really know the figures, but I once read that when Tesco open a shop, the knock on effect is the closure of a significant number of local, independent traders. No surprise I know, but so very shocking.
    I think we're very fortunate in MSN that our high street continues to be busy with plenty of independent traders still here. I rarely shop in Bath or elsewhere, because pretty much all that I need is here on my doorstep. And I make a point of regularly using the library too, in a bid to keep it open and active.
    I'd better stop now, as this is a very long comment!
    I love your vintage Radio Times cover, by the way!
    Denise x

  10. Well Niki i came home tonight to find an excited son talking about a town on telly that had gone back to victorian times ... WHAT !! i said .... oh i know this.... LOOK there's NIKI !!! .... this is SHEPTON MALLOT !!! as I threw myself on the sofa exlaiming "have we put this on series link" ! can't wait to watch the rest of the series.

    So Niki not only did I hear it mentioned on the programme a few times but your Blog has done a sterling job in educating us all too... What they need is a victorian market that is a regular feature... now that would be fun.

    Thank you for giving us such great info in the build up to this series.

    best wishes Ginny x


Thank you for finding the time to visit me...
Niki xx