'Eastwood could be like Stratford Upon Avon'

Eastwood should celebrate DH Lawrence and be a world famous tourist attraction like Stratford-Upon-Avon, it has been said.

Wednesday, 12th July 2017, 7:06 pm
Updated Wednesday, 12th July 2017, 7:11 pm
Feature on D.H. Lawrenceâ¬"s Eastwood, pictured is Vine Cottage, Brinsley

Dave Brock, who is a member of the DH Lawrence Society, said Eastwood’s popularity should be on a par with Stratford, which celebrates the life of William Shakespeare.

“It should be a world famous literary location.

“Everyone in this area should work together to make DH Lawrence heritage one of the greatest literary attractions in the world. All the ingredients are there. It could be as great as Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon.”

The Lawrence fan said the writer Thomas Hardy was celebrated in Dorset and the Bronte sisters were celebrated in Haworth, and we should have the same here in Eastwood.

“It could be the Midlands equivalent. It simply requires some belief and investment.

“The countryside is phenomenally lovely. The potential is limitless. All that’s needed is some commitment and imagination and fundraising,” he said.

Mr Brock said there could be live performances in the town, acting out Lawrence’s work.

“What I believe is needed is more live performance of Lawrence’s works staging the stories, poems and excerpts from the novels.

“Lawrence has been called the greatest playwright of the 20th Century - let’s show that he is. There are performances of Shakespeare’s plays in Colliers’ Wood. Let’s have Lawrence there.”

But Mr Brock said some of the key Lawrewnce tourist sites in Eastwood have been left to deteriorate and said it was “heartbreaking”.

“Everything has been in the doldrums, slowly deteriorating, for far too long.

“It’s heartbreaking adn deeply frustrating. Particularly when you hear of some of the other tin pot schemes that are coming into millions of pounds in funding,” he said.

The Haggs Farm, located near to Moorgreen reservoir, was the home of Lawrence’s girlfriend Jessie Chambers and was famously written about in one of the writer’s best sellers, Sons and Lovers.

It is owned by the Barber family, who dislike Lawrence and have little intention of saving the building, it has been said.

Locals say they hold a grudge against Lawrence for writing about a drowning that took place in the reservoir – a story based on the drowning of one of their relatives.

“It is one of the most important literary locations in the world. But is now decaying, through neglect.

“This beautiful grade II listed building may have reached the state where it may even be beyond renovation,” said Mr Brock.

Vine Cottage, where Lawrence’s aunt Polly lived, is also privately owned and has been left to deteriorate.

The owner has tried several times to get funding to restore it, but so far in vain.

“It’s been vandalised, kids have smashed the windows and the led has been ripped off. The cottage is in a wretched state,” he added.

The house in Lynncroft where Lawrence once lived, does not even have a plaque on the wall to tell people it was Lawrence’s home.

“There’s nothing at all to indicate it was the Lawrence home and it looks absolutely dreadful from the outside.”

But not all of the Lawrence buildings are in a bad state of disrepair.

The Birthplace Museum does a great job at attracting people, and The Breach House where Lawrence lived as a child, is preserved and offers accommodation to writers and Lawrence students.

The writer’s home in Walker Street is privately owned and lived in, and is well looked after.

Although the view from the house over the fields has unfortunately been lost with the buildinig of a new school.

Last year the Lawrence Heritage Centre in Durban House sadly closed down due to a lack of funding.

But the beauty spa that now occupies the space “is to be complimented”, said Mr Brock.

“There are thrilling Lawrence poems and quotations on the walls throughout. Lawrence books are at hand. The Spa has honoured Lawrence, and is to be complimented,” he said.

Broxtowe Borough Council runs the ‘Blue Line Trail’ to celebrate some of these key Lawrence sites. But Mr Brock said it was all looking tired.

“The whole Lawrence trail around Eastwood looks tired out and needs refreshing. The signs are faded and filthy.”

Last weekend leading experts on Lawrence from around the world, came to Eastwood to visit the sites.

Mr Brock said it was proof that the interest is firmly out there.

“They are living proof that Lawrence is read and revered and studied and celebrated around the world.”

Mr Brock has been staying at Breach House, in Garden Road, this week.

He said there were posters on the walls about plays being performed years ago, but said these efforts were now faltering.

“We need to unite to draw people into the area with a programme of performances of his work and with determined attempts to regenerate neglected areas of his heritage.

“There need to be White Peacock walks each week, and Lady Chatterley adventures in the woods. And - when these neglected treasures are restored - there can be Vine Cottage retreats and Haggs Farm retreats.”

Eastwood MP Gloria De Piero has always campaigned for Lawrence to be celebrated more.

She said: “I have long said that Eastwood does not do enough to promote its connections with DH Lawrence and that this is a huge missed opportunity for bringing visitors and associated revenue to the town.

“More needs to be done to both attract tourists and to celebrate Lawrence’s legacy.

“I have had some informal conversations with Arts Council England to discuss ideas of how this could be done but it would need the council and the whole community on board to really help Eastwood fulfil its potential.

“I am also fighting to make sure that my constituency gets a fairer share of lottery funding which could be used to give our cultural and heritage legacy a much-needed boost.”

The Advertiser tried to contact the owners of Haggs Farm and Vine Cottage, but did not get a reponse.

Broxtowe Borough Council said it was looking at giving the Blue Line Trail a makeover, using apps so people can do the walks without the need of a guide.