A regular column by the Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers
What we usually think of as the traditional English pub has been disappearing across our district quietly a bit at a time in recent years.
Even Harrogate’s Henry Peacock with its weight of history could not escape the wrecking ball.
True, it’s a long time since the pub’s glory days, perhaps as long ago as the 19th century when it served the workers who sweated to turn Starbeck into a major railway hub at the height of the Victorian era
At this point I think I should admit that I never went for a drink in the Henry Peacock, nor did anyone else I knew.
But I still felt a little sad when I saw the notice on the window of the new building that’s risen from the ashes of the old: “Staff required for Costa Coffee.”
Owned by Whitbread, the Costa chain is British and popular and I do drink its coffee from time to time.
Still, I can’t imagine its arrival being welcomed by the independent café owners sited further up Starbeck High Street.
Like many other places in North Yorkshire, this occasionally unfairly maligned suburb of Harrogate has seen its population expand since the millennium with successive waves of new housing.
There’s nothing wrong with chain cafes or charity shops or takeaways in themselves but the range of amenities and shops around Starbeck High Street doesn’t seem to have evolved in tandem.
While shoppers shopped on James Street in Harrogate early on Saturday afternoon, I spotted a man dressed in black and white carrying a black suit bag and a long, black rectangular instrument case crossing the road.
It could mean only one thing. The anonymous pedestrian was undoubtedly a classical musician on his way to take part in a concert as part of the current Harrogate Music Festival.
Not that anyone else seemed to notice him. They probably didn’t spot the bunting and posters dotted here and there promoting this event organised by Harrogate International Festivals either.
Which is a problem for the town’s burgeoning arts scene. The only legal spots for advertising events in public in Harrogate with posters and such-like seem to belong to either the festival or Harrogate Theatre, both of whom clearly need and deserve to get their message across.
But even these outlets are a bit thin on the ground and tend to be drowned out by the louder branding and sparkling signage of the shop windows that dominate the town centre.
In this situation, smaller unaffiliated groups and underdog promoters have no chance.
Perhaps it’s time independent bars, cafes and shops got together and introduced their own information points to support all the smaller but still brilliant events that take place.
That way publicity would truly be across the board for everyone.