John Light hails Dursley and Stroud, the less frequently lauded towns of the Cotwolds

Cirencester is known as the capital of the Cotswolds and rightly so.

It has a handsome market place, dominated by the fine Parish Church and is the seat of the ninth Earl Bathurst, whose handsome park provides space and beauty.

Painswick, sitting handsomely on its limestone spur is, of course, the Queen. With her handsome church steeple and buildings of an especially light Cotswold stone she is the epitome of grace.

What of Stroud and Dursley? My father called Stroud the ‘Backstairs of the Cotswolds’.

John Betjeman, who made pompous claims about so many places, substituted the word backstairs for a more unpleasant word, beginning with ‘A’.

Both were wrong. Stroud, with its fine record of industry and invention deserves a much more worthy title.

Dursley, now happily coming to terms with the loss of R A Lister, is fighting back spiritedly, and must not be left out.

Our beautiful villages and small towns can only be sustained if there are opportunities for the population, especially the younger ones, to earn a living.

I know! Having failed to gain employment at Dursley and Lydney I had to head to London to earn a living. When I first returned it was only as far as Swindon.

With a vitally important employment role to fill, Stroud, and especially its planners, should not shirk. Ecotricity and Renishaw are very worthy successors to the Hoffmans, Cope Chat, Sperrys, Redlers and Daniels of my youth, and must be encouraged if they seek to expand.

The proposed Eco-Park must not be viewed with suspicion, and concern. If no new ideas are embraced stagnation will result.

With events like the Fringe Festival and the recent Stroud Wassail, with characters like Dale Vince and Keith Allen (hooray for the diner) who continually stretch us, the town deserves the title ‘Heartbeat of the Cotswolds’, and if you journey from Nailsworth to Stonehouse you will see how quickly the heart is beating.

Let us not forget Dursley. Backed by attractive woodlands and adjacent to the railway station at Cam, perhaps lichgate of the Cotswolds is appropriate.

It is the first taste of our beautiful area for anyone travelling north on the M4 before heading for the hills.

Such visitors will find a lively, evoking area, conserving the best of its past and if we are properly bold, building a fine future. We are lucky to live here.

Winter reveals dreadful sights by our roadsides

NINE main roads converge on Cirencester, and in the past few weeks I have driven on all of them. At other times of the year this would be a pleasing experience. Not now!

It is the dead of winter and how appropriate that title is. All greenery has died and with new growth not yet started our hedgerows are shown to be litter-strewn. 

Items that have been casually thrown from passing vehicles are now there for all to see.

In spring, summer and until the end of autumn the verdant growth of roadside verges and of hedgerow masks this unsightly scene, but now throwaway mentality of unthinking drivers is brutally exposed.

Returning to the town along Ermin Street I saw a lorry marked ‘Highways’. It was nearly full of orange bags. 

Some short distance away were two workmen industriously filling yet more bags. 

They were clearly marked litter pickers and were doing a fine job, but how sad that such a task was needed.

How sad also that now at this time of year when it is possible to enjoy the finest views of the Cotswold landscape that packaging and rubbish spoil what should be a delightful experience.