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The Amphitheatre XIII

A Virtual Stroll Around the Walls of Chester

The Amphitheatre part XIV

St. John's Church

Latest news: 14th September 2016: CWaC makes a statement..

Back to parts 1 | 01 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 On to Gallery | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

"Labour has an ambitious plan for a fair, transparent and efficient Cheshire West where residents come first. We want to make sure that the democratic process puts you at the heart of everything we do. We will not cosy up to vested interests"
City Centre Councillor Samantha Dixon, Leader of Cheshire West & Chester Council's Election Pledge

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costa and tesco signs on dee house8th August 2016: The Jorvik Viking Centre opened to the public on the 14th April, 1984, attracting people from all over the world to discover what life was like over 1,000 years ago in York. Many famous faces have also experienced the reconstructed city of Jorvik, with the like of HRH The Prince of Wales, HRH The Duke of York, York’s very own Dame Judi Dench, Tony Robinson, Liv Tyler and even Timmy Mallet visiting to name but a few.

Photograph by Jamie Hall

Based on an archaeological dig by York Archaeological Trust in the 1970s which lead to over 40,000 Viking-age artefacts being unearthed, Jorvic Viking Centre was a world first incorporating all the sights, sounds and smells of Viking-age York. It truly was a significant step that changed the face of museum interpretation.

David Scott, Head of Marketing for York Archaeological Trust, comments “Now in its 31st year, Jorvic Viking Centre continues to educate and entertain families from all over the world on the Viking Age and as a not for profit organisation, income generated by our paying visitors helps to fund the Trust’s charitable activities to ensure the past is something that is enjoyed by all.”

Meanwhile in Chester... Cheshire West and Chester Councillors are split on whether or not to do a deal on the derelict, listed building known locally as Dee House, with a developer for the next 150 years, until the year 2166. Dee House sits on top of the southern part of Chester's Roman Amphitheatre which dates back as far as the 70s AD, campaigners say that it is high time that it was de-listed and demolished or moved, to finally reveal Britain's Biggest Roman Amphitheatre which lies beneath.

Some campaigners would be happy however for Dee House to remain, if it was turned in to a Jorvik style museum as opposed to the student flats or hotel which it is rumoured to become. CWaC Council are refusing to reveal who the proposed developer is, citing the deal as "commercially sensitive".

The Chester Archaeological Society (CAS), who were instrumental in excavating the northern part of Chester's Amphitheatre in the early 1900s, against the-then City Council's wishes, who wanted to build a ring road over the top of it, have stated that they would only be happy with a much shorter lease of around 25 years.

CWaC's Conservative Party have 'called in' the decision by the Labour led council on the grounds that they have not taken the strong pubic objection to the proposal in to account. The case for the 'calling in' will be heard at the council's HQ building in the city on the evening of the 8th of September, where a scrutiny committee will decide whether or not to open a period of public consultation or proceed to sign the deal.

Meanwhile in York... The York Archaeological Trust have welcomed their 18 millionth visitor to Jorvik.

Sources: Jorvik Visitors Centre website, Chester Archaeological Society (CAS) report into CWaC's proposal to lease Dee House.

Yes friends, once again the barbarians are on the loose at Chester's Roman amphitheatre! Be sure to sign this petition to stop CWaC from signing over Dee House and its land to developers for the next 150 years!

In addition, you can Tweet CWaC's leader, Cllr Samantha Dixon: @cllSdixon City of Chester MP Chris Matheson: @chrisM4chester and also English Heritage: @englishheritage. Tell them what you think- but don't forget to use #DigUpDeva.

replica amphitheatre plan"Imagine half of Stonehenge being covered by an office, or perhaps turn half of the Palace of Westminster into student flats? It's unthinkable that other historic locations would be hidden like this!"

11th September 2016: CWaC, in their infinite wisdom, have chosen to completely ignore a petition containing nearly 19,000 names and permit a yet-unnamed developer to transform Dee House into (yet another) boutique hotel, restaurant and bar, with the added sop of "a small interpretation room or cafe". The work is said to cost around £6 million.

Right: yet another proposal: a three-quarters-size replica amphitheatre constructed over the site of the original..

The following councillors voted against the call for further public consultation before the dodgy deal was done. All 5 Labour Councillors voted against the request, whilst all 4 Conservative Councillors voted in favour of public consultation..

Andy Williams representing the people of Neston
Reggie Jones representing the people of Blacon
Jane Mercer representing the people of Lache
Richard Beacham representing the people of Newton
Mark Henesy representing the people of Ellesmere Port

"We'd never move forward as a council if we had a consultation on every single detail... Everything starts now. We're going to transform that area of the city. It's going to be amazing".
Labour cabinet member Councillor Louise Gittins (who also said that the petition was 'unverified' and disputed whether or not those people signing it, from outside of the borough of Cheshire West, should even be counted or listened to..)

Excuse us, councillor, if we- and nearly 19,000 others- find it difficult to agree with you. We would also ask you, the voting public here in Chester to remember which way your councillors voted, and take this in to account at the ballot box in the future. We're told that councillors are elected to represent the views of the people, and in this case they have simply failed, by refusing the democratic right of almost 19,000 people to be heard- a simple request to consult with us on their plans, on what is in effect, one of the most important parts of our city..

Here's the BBC's take on events..

“Thank you to the voters of Cheshire West for putting your cross and your trust in your Labour council. We will not disappoint you.”
CWaC Labour Leader Samantha Dixon

12th September 2016:
Labour Councillor Louise Gittins, laughably cabinet member for communities and wellbeing, has just made the following, exceedingly brief, announcement on behalf of CWaC..

"We can confirm that Daniel Thwaites PLC is the successful bidder for the development of Dee House. We are currently within an EU procurement exercise (whatever that may be) and will be able to provide further details in the next few weeks".

thwaits brewerynew!Blackburn-based Thwaite's Chairman, Anne Yerburgh, counts among her ancestors Robert Yerburgh who served as Member of Parliament for Chester between 1886 and 1906 and again from 1910 to 1916. Some interesting stuff about the family and brewer is here.

Left: what Thwaite's own workers thought of them..

14th September 2016: Following last week's scrutiny meeting at which Dig up Deva campaigners urged the council to consult the public about the future of Dee House, the council have issued a statement...

Councillor Louise Gittins said: “We are committed to restoring the grade II listed Dee House to its former glory and improving the visitor experience to the amphitheatre. We know this is a highly emotive issue and that is why we have devoted many hours and much effort to fully consider and scrutinise the decision.

Daniel Thwaites plc has proposed a high quality hotel and restaurant, to create an interpretation centre and café, and to remodel the public realm around the building, enhancing the views of the amphitheatre.

The proposal does not involve any new build and will restore the current building to its former glory and will protect two key historic assets for future generations. The company has significant experience of restoring listed buildings back into beneficial use, most notably the Judges Lodgings, a grade I listed Georgian Town House in York.

Whilst we understand that some people will be upset and angry because we cannot excavate the full amphitheatre we must be clear that this is not a viable option. Historic England state that excavations of the buried remains of the Roman amphitheatre carried out between 2004 and 2006 showed that only fragments survive as most of the stonework had previously been removed for re-use elsewhere.

The view of most experts is that it is also highly unlikely that further excavation will expose anything which can be displayed without a very high level of reconstruction. Most of the walls on display today are 20th century reconstructions of what was once there.

A new hotel and restaurant will bring a significant amount of private sector investment into the city at a time of significant economic challenge. It represents the city’s best opportunity to boost the visitor experience around the amphitheatre whilst protecting two key historic assets for future generations.“

As ever, watch this space for the latest..

• Here's a fine computer re-creation of the Chester Amphitheatre by Julian Baum of Take 27

• There's lots of interesting videos of events at the Amphitheatre over at YouTube..
britannica internet guide award

Back to amphitheatre parts 1 | 01 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | On to Gallery | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

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