Two Sides Town

Well, what do you reckon to all this fancy talk of us having our very own little Marina then – how posh is that!

Admittedly I’m waiting with bated breath to see if this is just nautical nonsense that will never get afloat.

Or if it’s a sea worthy solution to do up our Docks and take our Town’s tourism to another level.

The Vale Council, who can’t even run a Contact Centre never mind an ambitious idea, are keen though.

Hand in hand with Associated British Ports (ABP) they have forked out the funds for a feasibility study.

And are already talking of the cliched ‘challenges and opportunities’ the potential wet Waterfront wonder would bring.

Never thought I’d see the day when I’d spy a yuppie’s yacht floating past as I pootled to Morrisons with my trusty More card.

But stranger things do happen at sea so I have thrown a life belt on my sinking feeling.

To be honest, I will also grudgingly admit that it does make sound sense to always suss out some more surefire success – especially in an area that has seen a rapid renaissance recently.

Hangfire, the hugely popular hog roasty type happening, was the first to slip onto the scene, closely followed by the aspirational Academy.

Add an Asda, a purple Premier Inn and a massive million pound Good Shed foodie and work place project.

And the once barren land is unrecognisable from not just my childhood but my kids too.

The once desolate Dockland has also been beautifully boosted by the hordes of aspiring young professionals settling in our seaside town.

Discouraged by Diff’s pricey property market, the socially mobile Millennials have cannily moved into the site’s happy little homes.

Many of which have been built quicker than the wait for a booking at the aforementioned Hangfire.

Finally, if we throw in the lovely Island link then the much maligned Barry of old is a distant memory – only revisited on Nick and Shirley’s valiant Victorian Barry Dock Tours.

What a reputational rise in seeing our town become a magnificent magnet for regeneration and rejuvenation.

Barry, once the largest coal exporting port in Britain, before a slow decline and a fast downward dip in the car crime ridden 80’s, is back with a bang.

But, and here’s the real rub for me…only in certain areas.

In my view, our much loved birthplace is in definite danger of becoming a town of two halves.

The wonderful Waterfront side with its shiny new homes, trendy foodie feasts, potential upmarket marina.

All lovingly linked up to the Gavin and Stacey boosted Barry Island, complete with Danter’s daring plans and the toilet block building bonus.

And the stark East End side with its half-hearted Holton Road shopping centre, the controversial incinerator-hosting Cadoxton.

With the poorly perceived Gibbonsdown – still recognised as one of the most deprived areas in the country.

Of course, there’s many, myself included, who love a bit of mix and match and get to wherever the party’s at.

But even that sometimes feels like living in a parallel universe as the divide starts to widen.

Let’s be absolutely crystal clear here too that I’m not making any judgement on any of our resplendent residents – old or new.

The size of your heart and the strength of your character sets your vibe for me, not what home you lay your proverbial hat in.

I just sense a possible town split, the like of which we see so starkly up the road with the widely different Cardiff Bay and Butetown.

One is tarted up to the nines but has no soul or warmth, the other is a vibrant community full of life and laughter.

I would so hate that to happen here.

In my view, what we need is community cohesion driven by tourism solutions and property plans that benefit the whole of beautiful Barry.

Fingers crossed for a miracle Marina then!

Speak soon



Sue Vincent-Jones, writing as Mrs SVJ, is a Barry born journalist, editor, and communications specialist.

She blogs about all things Barry – and her life in the wider world, through the eyes of a, queer and quirky, local girl done good.

Click here to see more of her news, views, campaigns, community causes, social action stories, blogs and bright ideas, from our town and around.

And please feel free to join the conversation – everyone is welcome to get involved.