Landmark to be lit up for Christmas

A MAJOR landmark is to be transformed into a "twinkling beacon" to attract Christmas shoppers into an Essex town.This year, Colchester Town Partnership has decided not to put up garlands of lights to stretch across the town's High Street, but to decorate the Jumbo water tower with "very twinkly white lights" instead.

A MAJOR landmark is to be transformed into a "twinkling beacon" to attract Christmas shoppers into an Essex town.

This year, Colchester Town Partnership has decided not to put up garlands of lights to stretch across the town's High Street, but to decorate the Jumbo water tower with "very twinkly white lights" instead.

Executive director Chris Rawlinson said: "We decided we'd try and do something different. We're going to light up Jumbo so it will be a beacon for the whole town.

"No matter where you are, inside or outside the town, you will be able to see it - rather than lighting up one or two streets.


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"It will be very visible from the station. People looking out of trains will think: 'That looks good, I'm going to do my Christmas shopping in Colchester'."

But the High Street will not be entirely in the dark at the expense of Jumbo. Ms Rawlinson said there will be four ten-foot Christmas trees and strings of lights on the town hall.

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The "townscape" garland of lights is being re-furbished and will be stretched across the High Street.

Packages are also being offered to retailers in the street with four-foot Christmas trees with lights to hang from brackets.

Twinkling white lights will be strung in trees on roundabouts on the outskirts of the town centre. The lights will cost £30,000 in total.

Colchester Borough Council leader John Jowers welcomed the new scheme. "It think it's a brave move. It could work quite well."

He said Lion Walk and Culver Square shopping centres do their own lights, and do them well, so High Street retailers should not expect the council to provide Christmas displays in the High Street.

Lorraine Barnett, sales and marketing director at William's and Griffin, an independent department store in the High Street, said: "We are disappointed there aren't going to be any lights in the High Street.

"While I think lighting up Jumbo is a good idea, I'd like to see that in conjunction with the premiere street in the town also being lit. That's what our customers and shoppers expect."

She said Williams and Griffin is installing even more lights than last year in its Christmas display, which also includes an animated window display which generations of Colchester children associate with the festive season.

A two-day festival of Christmas lights will take place on November 20 and 21. Lights around the town centre will be switched on on Saturday and a lights parade has been organised for Sunday, when the Jumbo illuminations will be unveiled.

Colchester's Christmas lights have a chequered history. The previous town centre management company went bust in 2000, partly due to spending thousands of pounds on new Christmas lights in 1999.

The street was in the dark in 2000, but when the lights returned in 2001, many people were disappointed with them and an electrical problem meant they did not work reliably. Garlands of blue lights were hired last year.

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