How long have you been living and working in the Cheltenham Connect area of South Cheltenham – are you a lifer or a relative newbie?
I was born in Montpellier, about 100 yards from where I now live. But I moved away from Cheltenham in 1976 to study and work in London and only moved back in 2003.
If you weren’t born in Cheltenham, what brought you here?
My work had transferred me to this area and I wanted to be nearer to my family. It also helped that this part of Cheltenham is pretty vibrant, with good local shops, pubs and restaurants on our doorstep.
What do you feel is special about our local community in this part of town?
It’s definitely the variety of residential and business activity and the pleasant environment created by the developers of this part of town in the 19th century.
Tell Us About Your Project Please tell us all about your project and why you started it.
The project is called Cheltenham South Town and it concerns the history of this district, with particular focus on the shops and businesses in the Bath Road, Suffolks and Tivoli areas. The main achievement is our website www.cheltenhamsouthtown.org.
What have been the biggest challenges and rewards?
When I took on the project in 2014 there were fewer than half of the shops with historical commentaries and it was a challenge to fill in the gaps. It has been great to see the work progressing, so that today I feel we have amassed quite a considerable amount of information about the area.
What keeps you going? What motivates you?
I really enjoy the historical research. It can feel like being a detective rooting out information linking the people that lived and worked here to the individual shops and other premises. I also firmly believe that in order to feel a strong sense of belonging to where we live we need to know its past and how we fit in today to the overall pattern that has shaped this place. History isn’t dead – it’s happening around us all the time.
Dreams for the Future What are your future plans for this scheme?
Given enough resources, I would like to see the project reaching out more to our community and engaging our popular imagination.
How can Cheltenham Connect help you? Cheltenham Connect was the original founder and main sponsor of the project. Through the visibility provided by the regular newsletter, together with ongoing financial support, the project will develop and has the potential to continue enriching the community.