Southampton: European Capital of Culture

Digging for Gold…


The ancient wonder that us the Parthenon in Athens? Yeah it’s alright.

The splendour of engineering that is the Paris’ Eiffel Tower? Not bad.

And as for the Brandenburg Gate, well, sorry Berlin – it’s no Bargate!

According to esteemed Liberal Democrat councillor – and former head of Southampton Council – Adrian Vinson, you don’t need to head off to the continent to experience such delights. Oh no, Southampton offers just as many gems.

Vinson, who currently resides as Cabinet member for economic development, has so far managed to avoid the men in white coats, despite issuing quotes such as the following: “Too few people, even among residents, realise what jewels we have among our crown.”

Crown? Jewels? We’re looking, and we certainly don’t see anything shining out there. From our viewpoint, the city seems 100% sparkle free, and decidedly grey.

Mr Vinson’s ‘jewels’ are certainly well hidden, so well hidden in fact we’re having trouble to work out what they are, let alone where. What ‘sights’ does Southampton offer that tourists genuinely travel to see? Essentially, none.

Well ok, the docks are renowned (mostly for that ship, a topic we’ll cover at a later date), although attempting to get anywhere near them is a nightmare. A quick look on the city’s Wikitravel page backs up the point that there’s little else on offer. Where other towns and cities feature a wide range in the “Things to see” section, Southampton boasts just three. They are:

It’s hardly a line-up you can imagine making Paris quake in it’s tailored boots is it?

If you strip away the parks, which are little more than grass and shrubbery in the town centre, and the Boat Show – which is only an attraction lasting nine days a year, then only the Bargate remains. Nice as it is as a feature on the High Street, it’s hardly up there in the region’s guidebooks as an essential box to tick.

The jewels seem pretty non-existent, although we’re promised the city is to undergo radical transformation in the next decade. Will these plans really come to fruition? We shall wait and see.

The one genuine project that excited the city in the last few years was the proposed ice rink and concert arena on the West Quay site. We ourselves vividly remember meeting the Head of Southampton Council when these plans were unveiled, and the certainty they had that it would definitely happen.

Safe to say those plans have long since been shelved.

Oh, and the Head of the Council at the time who spoke so passionately and assured us it would happen?

A certain Mr Vinson.