Saint Peter’s Borough

Daniel SharpeFlag, Project

In order to kick-start my new flag for Peterborough project I thought it would be best to share a little bit of information with you about my hometown, so that as I develop my ideas, those that are not familiar with the city will have at least a little grounding.

Peterborough is a relatively small city of just over 190,000 inhabitants at the last count. Sitting in the most north-western corner of East Anglia within the county of Cambridgeshire, the city shares its borders with the counties of Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and Rutland. It sits on the River Nene, one of the longest rivers in England and on the edge of The Fens (historically a marshy expanse of land, what with the aid of an expansive drainage network is some of the most fertile agricultural land in the UK) meaning that Peterborough is a very, very flat city.

There has been some sort of a population in the area for centuries, with Longthorpe Tower dating back to the 14th century. Despite a long history, there aren’t actually many legends or tales connected to the city. Apart from loose ties to Hereward the Wake and royalty around the time of Henry VIII, stories involving Peterborough are few and far between.

Peterborough Cathedral

Peterborough Cathedral by me

By far and away the most impressive building in the city is the cathedral, named after Saint Peter (as is the city itself), architecturally it is a hugely significant norman cathedral and call me biased but I think it has one of the most impressive west face of any British church. This video shows you a bit more of the building and includes some quite strange shots and EPIC music.

I more recent history, Peterborough was at the heart of the UK’s brick production in the early 1900s, as well as having sugar and engine producing industries based there. However these industries dwindled and local employment nowadays is largely in the service industry. Due to its proximity and fast road and rail connections to London, it has become somewhat of a commuter town. In recent years, there has been a push locally to make Peterborough the ‘UK’s Environment Capital’ at least that’s what the signs that welcome you to the city say.

Image from Woodford Recycling

Image from Woodford Recycling

As an honest appraisal, Peterborough is a city with a quite pretty, although quite small city centre, which like most places is getting surrounded by more and more generic housing estates (but now that I think of it, it’s probably quite fitting considering it was the largest producer of generic bricks for so many years). Realistically it is never going to be one of the most desirable places to live in the country, but nor will it be one of the least (and actually due to the large amount of public green space it is probably one of the better places for a young families). However it does have an image problem, there is very little lure for new people to move to the city and of residence already there, very few of them are proud Peterborians. I believe this is down to a few factors:

Proximity to London: this means a lot of the people that do move to Peterborough are commuters so aren’t necessarily invested in the local community.

Geographically in no-man’s land: not really the Midlands, not really East Anglia not part of the Fens there is a bit of an geographic identity crisis.

Lack of further education: meaning bright young minds need to leave to go to university and once you’ve left you don’t necessarily want to come back.

Anyway my opinions aside, while having a flag probably isn’t the solution, perhaps creating an a icon that local people can identify with could help foster a little more pride for the area and maybe create a greater sense of community, which eventually could lead to it becoming one of the most desirable places to live. Well at least that’s what I can hope for.