Kettering is not a bad place and it tries very hard.
It is full of proper, hard working people and has a proud industrial, non-conformist and anti-slavery history.
They got a bit carried away in the 1960’s when town planning, which had just been invented, got out of hand and they knocked down lots of buildings that they shouldn’t have.
There is still a beautiful parish church appreciated by the nesting peregrine falcons that live in the spire.
There are still some fine Victorian buildings and some earlier ironstone cottages and alms houses.
The Victorians also used some local ironstone, but mainly red brick.
Here is an elegant example, squeezed in next to a neoclassical bank building where shoe barons discussed investments with a bewhiskered bank manager. On the other side is a mid-twentieth century cinema, until recently an illicit cannabis farm, putting the “high” back in the High Street..
Here is the Royal Hotel — erstwhile commercial hub in the town’s heyday, where deals were negotiated for leather and shoes and more recently, probably marijuana.
Can you see someone at a first floor window, he gave me a friendly wave — one of the 40 people to whom the Royal now gives asylum. Despite the objections of the county council and police, Kettering seems to be surviving.
Development money has been spent regenerating the centre. There is the hint of a developing cafe culture.
A lot has been spent on new planters — the gardens have always been well tended.
Today I discovered the Yards, described as a cool, laid back, shopping area with lots of small, independent traders (I’m all for that). The old fire station calls itself “A low impact regeneration project”. I’d call it alternative — there is a terrific clothes shop with a clever buyer sourcing stylish, quality garments at low prices. There are shops, a food bank and cafes and places to hang out — and there are murals — large murals.