Prior to Civic Revival, in the first half of the 2010s, Civic Revival founders Peter Stonham and I had previously collaborated in a project we called The Urban Repairs Club.
Inspired by the Pickwick Society and its founding principle of its members being free to pursue their inquiries for any length of time that they please, subject to them defraying their own travelling expenses and paying their own postage costs, we made occasional travels around the country “in search of liveable, lively, enjoyable urban environments in English towns and cities”.
This was our manifesto:
We wish more English towns and cities offered the civilised, green and urbane lifestyle we want, at a price we can afford. We call what we are searching for “organic urban regeneration”. We disdain the “rip-off regeneration” that is served up to us by greedy financiers, crap developers, identikit chains, philistine authorities and egotistical starchitects. As we define organic urban regeneration by describing the people and the places doing it best, we hope we can encourage more people and places to choose it as their recipe for real prosperity in the years ahead.
What we do
We visit towns and cities to search out & celebrate examples of good organic urban regeneration, and the places where we see the best potential for it. Then we post our report on http://www.urbanrepairs.wordpress.com. Where we see rip-off regeneration, we criticise it. For each place we visit, we suggest a handful of “urban repairs” projects – modest, practical, deliverable – that we think could make a useful improvement to that town.
Who we are
We are latter day Pickwickians: somewhat absurd characters making investigative forays out into England and reporting on what we find. But we are also experienced urbanists and businesspeople with expertise in urban development projects, town planning & sustainable transport, journalism, urban design, heritage conservation, tourism & events production, independent retailing, and small business development. We are respectful visitors: we look & listen, our starting point is respect for every town, its assets, its heritage, its genius loci & its potential.
We are searching for like minds. If you want what the Urban Repairs Club wants, then please get in touch with us, and we can investigate how we can work together to help promote organic urban regeneration. If you are one of the pioneers building the new liveable, lively and enjoyable English towns & cities worth living in, we want to find out more about you and link to your projects.
We made several trips to places including Birmingham, Hebden Bridge/Bacup/Burnley/ Clitheroe, Faversham, Southend, Stevenage, Frome and the City of London. It was our epic trip to Huddersfield, Milnsbridge and Slaithwaite, West Yorkshire hosted by fellow Civic Revival founder Paul Salveson that killed the club. There was simply too much interesting stuff to report and the club’s secretary’s mind was blown. Tragically, the report was never written.
Now with Civic Revival we have the opportunity to build on the thinking behind the Urban Repairs Club, and take it forward relevant to the 2020s.