The new-look Exhibition Square

Exhibition Square, 30 Nov 2014

The ‘reinvigoration’ of King’s Square was rather controversial. In particular its repaving. Apparently less controversial, indeed barely noticed or mentioned as far as I can see, is the repaving work recently completed in Exhibition Square.

Though I didn’t like the idea of Etty being shunted off to the side of the square, as one of the proposed schemes had suggested, I wasn’t too bothered about what the paved part and bus part looked like. But the change is interesting, now it’s in place.

The square now appears bigger and flatter and paler, like King’s Square. I guess it’s supposed to look like another ‘world class space’. The same type of stone has been used as in King’s Square, to extend out from the existing slabs, most of which have been retained, though the smaller setts have been replaced.

I’ve taken a few photos of the square over the course of this year, when passing. As the proposed changes focused my mind on the place I thought I’d focus my camera on it too. Here are a few ‘before and after’ photos.

Here’s how it looked on a rainy day in May.

Exhibition Square, 10 May 2014

I was standing by the gate to King’s Manor. Small rectangular setts with the shabby remnants of double yellow lines marked the access road into King’s Manor. I guess that these setts, like the King’s Square ones, were laid in relatively recent decades, perhaps the 1970s. Photos of the square over the course of its history show various changes.

Now, in this 2014 remodeling, the ‘road’ and its kerb have been lost, merged into a flat surface, with the roadway indicated more subtly, as in King’s Square, and using the same type of stone setts:

Exhibition Square, 30 Nov 2014 (2)

I’m sorry these photos are rather gloomy and not exactly sharp. Difficult at this time of the year to get brightly lit conditions. Here’s a photo from October, showing the same bit of roadway under construction:

Exhibition Square, 17 Oct 2014

Walking across this area is much more pleasant now, and presumably more widely accessible to everyone, as the step of kerb has been lost and these new setts are completely flat and smooth.

And moving outwards towards the road, St Leonard’s Place … again, a photo from May this year:

Exhibition Square, 10 May 2014 (2)

And in late November:

Exhibition Square, 30 Nov 2014 (3)

Illustrating the way the bus pull-in has been reduced. It doesn’t really make sense to me, that the space for buses seems to have shrunk, rather than increasing. Presumably it works better and they know what they’re doing. I’m not a bus driver or someone who catches buses here so I can’t comment. I only notice the pedestrian perspective. Which is that it’s nice and smooth to walk on.

Moving round, facing across to the De Grey Rooms opposite, in May, as it was:

Exhibition Square, 10 May 2014 (3)

And now, repaved:

Exhibition Square, 30 Nov 2014 (8)

So, as a pedestrian I like it, to look at I like it, but also liked what was there before. I also realise that it’s not quite finished. I assume we’re awaiting bus shelters and the other things mentioned in the information signs surrounding the site while the work was taking place:

Exhibition Square, info sign, 17 Oct 2014

Oh yes, that reminds me, there’s a cycle lane too, indicated with new road markings on the tarmac rather than road widening.

The information sign also answered the question of how much all this cost. Well, kind of.

Exhibition Square, info sign (2), 17 Oct 2014

Thoughts welcome, as always.

And the plans for the other part of the square, Etty and the fountain? I don’t know. They’re both staying, I hope. Personally I’m not convinced that the fountain is destroying Etty, and even if it is, maybe we should just let that happen. Let him fade, naturally eroded. And photograph the two of them at regular intervals and turn it into some kind of art project, and put it in the gallery behind him. He might like that.

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  1. Nice idea Lisa, a record of all the politically inspired projects (vanity and successful) in the City over the years whether Lib Dem, Labour or Conservative might inspire those in charge of the budgets to be a bit more considerate of the budgets. Everytime I go past the derelict Barbican built by Labour and demolished by the LibDems or the Ryedale Pool (Waterworld) demolished by Labour I think we live in a crazy wasteful city…

  2. Good point Mick,suppose a city that has lost its engineering and manufacturing ethic,replaced by tourism,has no option but to knock down /replace/repave, to maintain visitor attractiveness.Pity about the rock bottom wage structure inherent,for those who have no other choices!

  3. Danny Myers

    I like the extra space & accessibility – And think Etty should stay! Keeping a watchful eye over the city.
    I can’t wait for the Art Gallery to re-open – Then I think we’ll really be able to notice the difference to this ‘space’

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