market town of Stratton has nothing in it or about it worth our making
I came across this dismal assessment whilst researching the history
of my native town. It had been written
in 1724 by none other than Daniel Defoe in his book "A Tour Through
Great Britain by a Gentleman".
Nearly three centuries later his remarks still seem to haunt us. Stratton,
although one of the most beautiful towns in North Cornwall has been
in steady decline for fifty years and suffers badly from the loss of
it's former status and individuality. Naturally any new enterprise could
prove vital to the future prospects of the town, and it's people, for
there is no doubt that Stratton folk remain fiercely proud of their
ancient town -despite any mention of decline!
Nestling between the River Neet and the River Strat, the town is steeped
in legend, antiquity and architecture. It has a chequered history, being
one of the few Cornish places mentioned in the Domesday Book. It was
also the birthplace of the Cornish giant, Anthony Payne, remembered
for his role in the Battle of Stratton. It has many other historical
connections too, but sadly attracts too few visitors nowadays.
One reason for the dwindling number of visitors is clear. The neighbouring
coastal resort of Bude has grown considerably over the last century,
encouraging a constant stream of traffic through Stratton. Unfortunately
this bounteous supply of visitors is directed straight to the coast
because motorists are discouraged from stopping here.
Yellow lines and scanty parking facilities ensure that any potential
from passing traffic is utterly wasted, so Stratton fails to gain any
I believe Stratside Gallery and Museum could help to overcome this problem
and could prove to be of long term benefit to the town. The plan is
very simple to understand.
what can I do?
name is Philip Jackson. I was born here in Stratton in 1942 and work
as an artist. I have been reasonably successful and, as much of my work
has been sold abroad, I decided to assemble a collection of my paintings
to exhibit in this country. I have always had a high regard for my home
town so, when the former Stratton School came onto the market, I thought
this would be the ideal place to exhibit my paintings.
It seemed the plan might be beneficial both to myself and to the town
so, after a combined effort by myself and my supporters, the
site was purchased and work commenced.
The buildings are extensive and the once dilapidated Victorian buildings
and gardens are being sympathetically renovated. The whole site had
been abandoned and vandalised, so the work has been painstakingly difficult.
There have been many setbacks along the way, but the re-development
of the site is now in the advanced stages.
....with galleries and an archive....
other facilities will be incorporated into Stratside Gallery to augment
the steadily-developing collection of my own paintings.
The centre will be home to the Stratton Museum and there will be exhibition
facilities for other artists, but only those who paint from life.
Facilities will also include a small retail area and a tearoom. Full
facilities for the disabled will be included.
During the re-development period many local residents have helped with
exhibits for the Museum, so I hope this will persuade them to adopt
the Stratton Museum as "their own" museum.
Perhaps the most important part of the development is the new access
road and large car park, which could prove to be a priceless asset.
At last the town should be able to take full advantage of the potential
presented by passing visitors.
....to our town!
Stratside could become a stimulus for the growth of other cultural,
tourist and business amenities in Stratton and, with luck, the town
will also benefit from the improvement in business and employment opportunities.
I, for one, would feel very proud if Stratside played a part in restoring
our town to it's former busy status, - then we can all blow a raspberry
at Daniel Defoe!