12th April 2022
With high street businesses in decline, and shops sitting empty, Labour want to help our community and local area thrive, through bringing more cultural tourism to the town centre.
Our wonderful local museum has been left without proper investment or staffing, as Kingston Council has made the decision not to reemploy a Heritage Team Leader.
We want to celebrate our boroughs rich history, being the place of the first King of England, Athelstan, by invest in arts, culture and tourism.
Tried and tested
Leicester is a good example of where this has worked. The King Richard III Centre in Leicester celebrates a past King, whose bodies was famously found in buried in as car park in 2012.
In just 2 years, Leicester received 830,000 additional visitors, generating a Gross Value Added income of over £79m.
A New King Athelstan Visitor Centre
Our idea of a new King Athelstan Visitor Centre would celebrate the unique Saxon heritage of Kingston, highlighting King Athelstan, in particular, and the part he played in shaping our country at a time when there was disunity, civil strife, and invasion. There is no other Saxon centre. One in Kingston could chart the history and provide experiences utilising new forms of historical experience pioneered in Leicester and York amongst other places.
The project could be funded by heritage lottery funding, and be a local asset to be enjoyed and gained from for many years to come.
Below is an artists depiction of what the centre could look like.
This is an opportunity to revitalise Kingston, its culture, and its economy.
Labour’s candidate for Kingston Town, Martin Ellis says “Kingston is sitting on an untapped treasure of Athelstan being the first King of England and crowned here in Kingston. An Athelstan Visitor Centre is what a heritage led recovery looks like, not just baseless words from the Lib Dem’s.”
We fully support a King Athelstan Festival in 2025 to celebrate the 1,100th anniversary of the Coronation of Athelstan and will aim for the Visitor Centre to be opened in 2028, to coincide with the anniversary his installation as King of All England. Kingston would therefore be in a strong position to lead on the celebrations of the birth of our Nation.
Just as Athelstan was able to bring different communities together, the celebrations would stress the importance of inclusivity. As part of the National celebrations, we will encourage local sports clubs and cultural organisations to start reaching out to their counterparts in other parts of the country to build relationships. For example, Surbiton Boxing Club invited East Hull Boxing Academy from our namesake, Kingston upon Hull, for a cultural, social and sporting experience in autumn 2019 as part of Kingston Labour’s ‘Project Athelstan’ programme. It thus brings communities and our country together.