Ever miss an era of Britain where heavy industry still ruled, where working class people swept their doorsteps, considered “curry” an exotic foreign food. Ever miss a Britain where a single brown face amongst the throng of pale-faced weather beaten islanders was a shock! Do you miss rag-and-bone men, friendly gypseys, miners welfare clubs. Where a block of half-peeling concrete blocks is considered “modern architecture”. Where working class meant something! You don’t need to travel back in time, just visit Ibstock.
I don’t get it, when the mining industry collapsed, towns like Coalville, Eastwood and Clay-Cross had their hearts ripped out of them, Ibstock has managed to maintain a community and a work ethic that’s quite commendable inside of a town that looks like the Luftwaffe took special exception to the place. I think its probably just jobs; every other person seems to be a builder, sparky or decorator. The 1970’s housing estates are rammed to the gunnels with White Vans, pickup trucks and small-business signs. We also have the added appeal of “not being Coalville”.
Lets take you on a dizzying tour; we have Ibstock Brick, famed in builder’s merchants across the country. We have the Whimsey Inn, a pub which is literally two semi-detached houses knocked together. Not one but TWO Gypsy camps within easy driving distance. A Co-Op which stands in for the height of civilisation. A series of massive distribution warehouses within driving distance
And yet again the people are fantastic! You’ll meet a biker gang, a scrap merchant and a mother with three half-dressed kids on your way to the betting shop and they’ll all say “Mornin'” to you with cheeky smiles. Aside from the odd brutal kidnap/rape/murder there is no crime! The people gossip while getting their hair permed. I even saw somebody reading a book once!
It’s a shame there is almost nothing here; the shops such as they are don’t accept credit cards and close at 4pm. The local centre has a line-dancing class and a “guess the pumpkin weight” competition.
But it’s all change in Ibstock; the soaring house prices in Loughborough are pushing the 30-something office working, massively indebted, aspiring middle-classes to cast their commuter nets wider. The town has increases its occupancy about 20% in the last five years with more going up all the time. We have a skate park now, a curry restaurant that doesn’t give you botulism, the nature reserve *cough abandoned opencast mine cough* is starting to look less like the site of an ancient holocaust. Soon the old-miners will die and we’ll be up to our ears in aspiring yuppies and low-rent coffee shops.