Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Stroud Special

Stroud is a quaint town about an hour and a half outside of London.  It is not a particularly captivating place except for the fact that you can purchase a ticket, the Stroud Special, from London Paddington to Stroud.  This ticket will cover travel, refreshments during the ride and discounts at the local shops.  This is an attempt by the locality to capitalize on the fact that trains run through Strroud at least twice a day  during the week when people commute to and from work.  The question that should be posed is whether or not this idea is worth the effort and money being invested in it.
While in theory this is an amazing opportunity for the town it is not the right place for such a venture.  It would be the opportune venture for a small town that had enough attractions to compete with a large city such as London.  This is, however, not the case with a town such as Stroud.  While it would make for  nice stop on a long trip it is not the type of place that one could spend an entire day.  There are a couple attractions such as the Dunkirk Mill and the town's high street.  The Dunkirk Mill is an eighteenth century woolen mill that has now been converted into flats.  A portion of the ground floor is still dedicated to the mill and offers tours.  There is also a brochure that can be purchased here by visitors and used to navigate the main attractions of the town.  The high street begins at the low point where the more affordable shops are and continues up hill to the high end shops.  There are a reasonable amount of shops that would appeal to people seeking shops that can not be found in other places, but there is nothing so extraordinary that it would compel people to travel out of their way.  About three quarters of the way up the hill there is a side street that has a restaurant that looks rather ordinary at first glance.  Once you enter the restaurant you can walk past the dining room and continue through an alleyway that leads to a culdesac of  shops where you can get kitchen supplies and other trinkets.
Nothing about Stroud sets it apart from any other English country town.  This is not to say that Stroud is not worth a visit if you happen to be going that way, but if is not a place to plan a trip around.  There are frankly better ways for the town to spend its money.  If they instead focused on improving and promoting the main attractions of the town it would take the pressure off the entire town to be something it is not.  This way the entities that naturally shine will have the opportunity to be seen and appreciated for their uniqueness.  This is the opportunity of the town to create an amazing destination, but if it focuses its energy into the wrong aspects it will end up where it started.  Looking for a special to draw the crowds.  

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