At risk of being forgotten…

I really like Salisbury, but my impression of the city after living here for nearly two years now is that it is a town on the decline. Salisbury is an old town with a lot of history, naturally the beautiful gothic cathedral is the major draw to the place. During the summer, tourists have flooded here from all over the world. It’s a busy place during this period, but come the winter things become quieter.

As I have walked around the town doing my street photographs I can’t help but become aware of the shops closing all over the town. Monsoon went some time ago, Strada closed recently as did La Molina (which I blogged about earlier). Shops like Nando’s and H&M have opened up in town recently, but these shops can be found in most towns. My suspicion is that people will bypass Salisbury, unless they live locally, as there is nothing beyond the cathedral to draw them in. So, one morning a few weeks ago, I walked around the place and photographed all the empty shops I could find. I was going to say that happily in the last week or two several shops have opened up in those places. However, they are just existing shops in the town relocating to another area – so now new businesses seems to have actually started, yet

Salisbury does have some really good features about it, it has a small but thriving art community, some nice local shops, and some good intimate music festivals during the summer. There are things going on here, but if you are not careful it is easy to miss them.

My interest in Salisbury is not to document my perception of it’s apparent decline, but to capture the life as it is lived here at this time. It’s just seems to be at the present moment that the town is not going through one of it’s better periods.

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Town to let

One thing that has really struck me again as I walked around Salisbury is just how many shops are closed or in the process of closing. A few weeks ago I went for a walk around town taking photographs of the closed shops. I must admit, I did feel quite self-conscious taking shots of empty shop windows in the middle of the day! But, at the time I felt that it was important to document and record the sheer number of shops falling into disuse in the town.

The shot below is of La Mollina, which closed yesterday. It’s really sad to see a local business go under. However, Fish Row is fast becoming the ‘to let’ capital of Salisbury. Part of me thinks in terms of businesses it’s more like death row. It’s a shame as the street is certainly one of the nicest areas of the centre. I noticed that on the upstairs window of the Forever England shop there is a ‘to let’ sign. Either the shop is moving or going, who knows?

I wrote a post a few weeks ago titled clone town. If you read what the owner of La Mollina wrote on the photo below, it’s proof of the point I made then about identikit ruling the roost. I haven’t lived in the area long enough to know the history of the town in terms of shops, but I can’t help feeling that whoever is making decisions about developing the centre is getting it badly wrong.

I think what I might do is get out early for a few mornings and photograph the closed shops. The state that some are left in; the unopened mail piling up near the letter boxes; the discarded items inside, like chairs, heaters, cooking equipment etc. tell us a story about loss and failure. The shops are a sad testimony to the business phrase ‘adapt or die’…

La Mollina
La Mollina Tapas Bar on Fish Row, Salisbury