Rugby may be a great place, but even its most enthusiastic fan would admit it’s not perfect.
That’s why, 25 years ago, the Advertiser published a list if 50 ways to improve Rugby. And it makes fascinating reading.
Some of the suggestions - such as a multi-screen cinema and a local crematorium - have become an established part of our town. Some - such as county cricket being played at Rugby School - have made tentative steps towards becoming established. And some - such as pizza restaurants - may have become a little too established for some tastes.
The progress we have made towards others (such as better justice) is debatable; others (such as an elected mayor) have been fulfilled, but not in Rugby; and quite a few (such as the town having its own TV station) still seem a distant dream.
The words accompanying the feature in 1990 state that the suggestions were gathered from “opinion-formers and policy-makers” – but we know they don’t always have the best ideas. So we’d like to know what you think. We’re compiling another 50 ways to improve Rugby – and we want your views.
Send us your suggestions (as many as you like) and we’ll whittle them down to make a 2015 version of the list. Email firstname.lastname@example.org, leave a comment on our Facebook page (facebook.com/RugbyAdvertiser), tweet @RugbyAdv or write to us at 2 Albert Street, Rugby, CV21 2RS.
So, here’s the original list, with the original comments. Goodness, times have changed – or have they?
1. A Multi-screen cinema.
Demanded by almost everyone in the town from bored teenagers to pensioners looking for a quiet night out. Possible sites abound as Rugby has several purpose-built cinemas now masquerading as shops and carpet centres. Top contenders for a silver screen include the former Kwik Save building, Bank Street and the closing furniture centre in Railway Terrace (where Maurice Chevalier once sang in the 1930s).
2. Trees in Corporation Street.
One of the town’s greyest and bleakest roads would be greatly improved by a spot of greenery.Trees planted down the central reservation and both sides of the road would not only break up concrete monotony but help keep down the dust, protect pedestrians from the wind and introduce seasonal change.
3. Cycle Lanes. Pedal pushing around Rugby is a frightening experience. Cyclists on the Ashlawn Roiad and the gyratory system take their life into their own hands. Cycles are safer for other road users, the environment and don’t guzzle petrol at £2.35 a gallon, but sane human bieings are not going to take to them in Rugby until they are safe.
4. Bands in Caldecott Park. The beautiful blue and red bandstand in Caldecott Park speaks of a time when the park was more than a place to drink and crash-out in the sun. Regular brass and silver bands and the provision of rented deckchairs in the park would provide a good forum for young muscicians, rich entertainment and an even better place to crash-out in the sun.
5. Anti-slip surface at the Rugby Centre. On a wet day, how many shoppers have become victims of the steep and slippery slope which leads down the shopping mall?
6. Local Crematorium. Rugby’s nearest cremarorium is Canley at Coventry or Oakley Wood on the Banbury Road to Warwick Road. A funeral service in Rugby must be completed some ten to 15 miles from the town, adding extra trauma to an already distressing occasion, and an extra cost to what is an already expensive one.
7. Bus-stop bins. Tough vandal-proof rubbish bins should be bolted ito every bus stop. They should be easy to spot and regularly emptied.
8. Stiff fines for litter louts. Anyone dropping litter in Rugby town centre should face a £50 fixed penalty fine. A professionally-employed litter warden would monitor the trown centre supported by local police. Anyone caught dropping litter should have the option to pay the fine or go to court, where if found guilkty the fine will be heavier still.
9. A gay bar. Homosexuality has been driven underground in the town. There are no places where gay women can freely meet and public toilets should not be a renezvous point for gay men.
10. County cricket. It is high time that county cricket should be introduced into Rugby. It is the only major town in the county without a top class fixture and the county ground at Edgbaston is not even in the county. We have the ideal grounds at Rugby School Close or the GEC and we should be prepared to start with a minor counties or Sunday league game.
11. Rugby School for Rugby’s public. The school dominates the town and has some of the best sports facilities around.These facilities should be available to locals especially during the summer when the school’s swimming facilities, games fields and cricket pitch are practically unused. More provision should also be made to allow tourists to visit the historic school - one of the town’s biggest and most famous attractions.
12. Improve local driving tests. Motorists who don’t know how to use the gyratory system drive everyone else round the bend.
13. Rugby Railway Station. What about having trains that ran on time? There should be more trains running to the major cities, especially first thing in the morning. Trains could be cleaner and tickets should be cheaper.
14. Many people have abandoned Rugby Town centre’s night spots because they are tired of lager louts and loud music. A well-decorated bar for drinkers in their late 20s and 30s where you could put down your drink without it being pinched would be welcome.
15. Ban an early Christmas. All yuletide festivities - lights, shop displays and costume Santas should be banned from the town until December 1.
16. 24-hour garages. Whether it is cigarettes, a pint of milk or even petrol you are after, a 24-hour garage in the Hillmorton, Bilton or Brownsover area, would save the tiresome trek to Corporation Street. Better still a 24-hour garage in all these areas.
17. Community Policing. More bobbies on the beat would go a long way to keeping down vandalism and theft. Pedestrian policemen build up much better relationships with an area’s young people. This helps stop petty crime before it starts. When they get into their patrol cars, policemen become faceless.
18. Late-night drinking. Throwing all town centre revellers out on the streets at precisely 11.15pm is tantamount to organising a street fight. If people were allowed to make their own decision about when to stop socialising and go home, there would simply be less bored and frustrated people wandering around at the same time to cause fights. Also for those not keen on nightclubs, an open pub should be an option to a can of beer in front of the late film.
19. Stray dog collectors. Dog wardens should be able to collect stray and dangerous dogs within 30 minutes of a concerned member of the public picking up the phone. The service ought to be available round the clock, including weekends.
20. Cable television. The long promised cable is yet to come to Rugby. If it does, those who nightly scour Midlands Today and Nationwide in vain for a mention of Rugby would be delighted to tune into the town’s own station.
21. Better signposting. Why the obsession with Market Harborough? Switching a few of these signs for directions to Daventry or Lutterworth would be a relief to many of the lost motorists still touring the gyratory system.
22. A cheap lunchtime restauarant. Presently anyone who works in the town centre and is bored of whole-food tea-shops and pub-grub is bringing a packed lunch to work.
23. Bus station. Build a Pool Meadow-style bus station at West Leys car par. Before shoppers will leave their cars at home, we need a town centre area where buses start and finish their journey, with easy to read and on-the-dot timetables.
Presently buses straggle all over the town centre, confuse the stranger and block other road users.
24.Rugby Railway Station. Get rid of the ‘This Path is not Dedicated to the use of the Public’ sign. Visitors to Rugby find it insulting and confusing. Locals ignore it.
25. Ice-skating rink. Another entertainment facility the town could do with. An ice-rink would give some of the town’s many bored teenagers something to do. It would also attract many visitors to the town.
26. Telling time. All town clocks should show the same time and correct time. It would be a start if the four faces of the town centre clock tower agreed with each other. If St Andrew’s clock tallied as well it would be a minor miracle.
27. A better market. Move the market town from James Street to the clock tower and let stalls run down the centre of High Street and Sheep Street, bringing life, colour and that increasingly rare species, the shopper back to the pedestrian area.
28. Street theatre. In between groups of stalls in our proposed clock tower market there would be spaces reserved for buskers, street performers and pavement artists. The largest space would be towards the Rugby School end of the pedestrian zone to encourage shoppers to visit this increasingly bleak end of town.
29. Athletics arena. We are not suggesting the town centre makes an Olympic bid but at least one basic sports arena is needed as a venue for track and field events.
30. Upmarket department store. Bostron’s is good but there are very few shops selling high quality goods and gifts and even less high quality clothes stores. Debenhams, Rackhams or John Lewis should be invited to include a store in the coming shopping mall development.
31. Appoint a creche. There should be a professionally-run creche in Rugby town centre open six days a week for shoppers to be able to leave their children in safety.
32. Soccer stadium. Use Oakfield as a super stadium for VS Rugby allowing better facilities and more room for spectators.
33.Speaker’s Corner. High Street and Sheep Street meet. All of Rugby’s popular and outspoken characters could stand and express their views to the general public.
34. Library and Art Gallery Now. Dithering about with plans and proposals which just end up in the bin is a waste of public money.No-one is arguing Rugby doesn’t urgently need a new library. So let’s build it now before the interest rates go up again.
35. Hoof the Cattle Market. Stop heavy lorries trundling through Benn Ward at dawn by moving the cattle market to Churchover where access is better and there is more space.
36. Better justice. Replace lay magistrates with professionally qualified stipendiary magistrates.
37. Power to the Mayor. Make the office of Mayor a full-time position elected by the people every two or three years. The Mayor would run the borough rather than the leader of any political group.
38. Traffic at schools. Ban on traffic within 100 yards of any school during opening hours.
39. Public transport. There should be a 10p flat rate on bus travel into Rugby, the rest of the cost subsidised by the borough council. The numbewr of cars per household should be limited to one.
40.Less booze. The number of off licences should be reduced by two-thirds. The result would be less alcoholism. Alcohol is too freely available in Rugby.
41. Getting the bird. Appoint a pigeon warden to police the town centre and move on any birds loitering with intent.
42. Summer cafes. Encourage more cafes to put chairs and tables outside in the summer. However the customers who use these should not be allowed to grow old and grey before cafe stafff attend to them.
43. Brownsover wine bar. Encourage wealthy yuppies to point the bonnets of their Range Rovers towards Brownsover. An upmarket wine bar is just what the area needs and would exploit the area’s excellent reception for car phones.
44. Pizzas. A cheap, quick and arguably tasty form of food. Rugby still lacks a pizza restuarant. The prime site for any low-budget eating spot has to be around Briggs Shoe Shop with its fine two-storey building and three-face facade. Open all day with a licence please.
45. More bottle banks. Only the very dedicated eco-phile is presently prepared to haul around a sack of glass in the hunt for the bottle bank. Sadlly most of us are lazy and will continue dumping our empties in the wheelie-bin until the banks are brought to the end of our street.
46. Rejuvenate the canals. We need a rebirth of canal life encouraging more businesses to transport their goods on the water. Barges could be horsedrawn rather than mechanised.
47. More shops in the centre. There should be a ban on any more offices within 500 yards of the clock tower. The shops should be run by Rugby people.
48. Ditch the road. Turf over the road through the recreation ground to the leisure centre OR remove the traffic lights at the end of Cromwell Road.
49. Ponds, lakes and fountains in the Rugby town area. Locations could Regent Place, Caldecott Park, and the Rugby Recreation Ground. Ponds should be rampant with wildlife.
50. Postal services. A head post office, moved from Rugby many years ago to a bigger and better location in Coventry, should be returned to the town immediately. This would have the effect of improving delivery times for locally posted mail. The Royal Mail claims that something like 92 per cent of first class mail is delivered the next day. This must surely be a figment of someone’s imagination in the sorting office.