3. City Centre - A Sunday Afternoon Tour
So far we have pretty much avoided the city centre of Woolham. The major feature is the former mouth of the River Wear which has been culverted and is now little more than a basin, it is known as St Asaph's Reach and seperates the city centre into East Bank and West Bank. Very little remains by way of truly historic buildings in Woolham as it was more-or-less levelled by enemy action in WWII so much of what we'll see on our tour is post-war reconstruction.
I thought best to start with an overview of the city centre so we can orientate ourselves. You can see how the River Wool runs along the bottom of the picture with St Asaph's Reach making its way into the heart of the city, it is also possible to see a glimpse of the culverted River Wear which re-appears to the east. Here you can also get an idea of the road layout with the inner ring road snaking around the CBD and the famous Wear Bridge crossing the Reach and the two major railway terminii; West Quay and Bude Street.
3.2 St Edmund's Square
We begin our short tour at St Edmund's Square. West Quay station is located just to the left of this photograph and the town's main bus station can just be seen there too. St Edmund's Church (1871) sits on the site of a medieval church by the same name which was deemed structurally unsafe in 1868 when the spire collapsed after a lightning strike, its replacement is built in what Pevsner described as a 'continental Gothic' style. The square outside was renovated as part of a package of works to improve the cityscape in 2004 and now features a coffee shop, newspaper vendor and tourist information booth. In recent years the area has done much to shake off a slightly ropy reputation it once had for vice and crime.
3.3 King's Market
Moving north from St Edmund's we come to King's Market built in 1811 it was once a thriving trader's market but when trade declined in the late-90s the market hall was converted into restaurants and shops and the stalls in the square moved from their traditional trade of fruit and vegetables to selling books, records and vintage clothing. The building to the left of this is the headquarters of Wessex Rail and the one to the north is the Wessexian offices of Barclay's bank.
3.4 Bude Street station
Moving further south we come to the end of Wear Bridge and to Bude Street station. It is a small terminus with just four platforms but it forms a major link in the commuter network connecting to the City Ring and the eastern suburbs. The park at the top of this photograph is Cathedral Park, the largest green space in Central Woolham and the building recently constructed on its corner is the Grant Gallery of 2003. It houses a collection of Wessexian paintings and sculpture from 10th century misericords to the most recent works of Sandra Walker and Germaine Portright.
3.5 Cathedral Park
And finally a quick look at Cathedral Park. The park was laid out in 1779 by King George IV, it originally had the Bude Palace at one end and the Cathedral at the other, the palace has long-since disappeared after a fire in 1801 but the cathedral still sits at the south end of the main axis. In this photograph we can see the west side with the Observatory (no longer used due to the light pollution of Woolham) and the Park Street tram stop. The white building facing the river is the offices of Wessexian supermarket chain Safeway.
I hope this gives you a taste of the city centre, there's certainly a lot more to see and hopefully we'll get to take another look in the near future. Thank you for all your comments, it is good to know people are enjoying my CJ and if you have any constructive criticism or ideas I'd love to hear it.