Colchester/ The Hythe: Festival aims to build old port’s identity

Colchester's exciting Town to Port festival came to town for the bank holiday weekend on Saturday 25

Colchester's exciting Town to Port festival came to town for the bank holiday weekend on Saturday 25th May. The Colchester Sea Cadets on their ship. - Credit: Archant

A community event has been held with the aim of celebrating and improving access to an under-used area of an historic town.

Held at King Edward’s Quay in Colchester, the festivities marked the launch of the borough council’s Town to Port public art and way-finding project, which has been set up to help build the identity of the old dockside area at The Hythe.

Highlights of the day included a live music stage, boat rides on the River Colne, a temporary skate park, an art market, a spoken word tent and a screening of local films in the Colne Lighthouse.

Councillor Lyn Barton, the borough council’s portfolio-holder for renaissance, said: “The old port at The Hythe is really important to local residents and a key part of Colchester’s heritage.

“There has been a lot of support from local residents who want to celebrate the history of the area through this project and this community festival is a great place to start.”

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According to the council, the Town to Port project aims to make The Hythe a destination that both local people and visitors want to come to.

The project specifically looks at building upon existing signs, improving access and links in and around The Hythe, encouraging better use of the public spaces and bringing the heritage of the old port alive.

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As part of the project, “way-finding” markers will be installed at various locations between East Hill and King Edward Quay, providing improved access to - and details of - the old port area.

Hythe resident Dr Adrian May, who is also a lecturer in creative writing at the University of Essex, has lived in the area for more than 20 years.

He welcomed the event but said any attempt to rejuvenate the area must bear in mind its “drunken sailor past.”

He said: “The Hythe is an area that people tend to pass through, either on their way to Wivenhoe or making their way back to the Greenstead estate after a night out.

“Since the industry disappeared from here, the area has struggled to find an identity and is generally regarded as the rough, slightly hip end of town.

“New flats have been built here but that hasn’t really built a sense of community, so it’s great that this festival is getting people out on the streets together.

“There’s some great history and old buildings here and a sense that things are slightly bohemian.”

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