Colchester: A Vision

Colchester is steeped in a rich history that many towns would be envious of, yet somehow we don’t seem to fulfil our potential and become the tourist destination we could be. Scott Everest takes a look at what could be done to change that and really put this town of ours on the map.

What is wrong with Colchester?

On the face of it nothing, there are only a handful of places in the United Kingdom that can boast the incredible heritage that our fair town has in abundance.

It has been noted that 42 million people visited the county of Essex in 2015.

Colchester Zoo does not subscribe to any of the industry measurements so is hard to understand its performance, however all other attractions in Colchester are down 11% on average (from the Government’s Case Tourism Data) with only Colchester Castle showing an upturn in visitors bucking the trend.
Colchester Castle

It is an assumption, but with Tourism we seem to be in regression.

There is £3 billion on the table from inbound tourism to the UK, but even with one of the most unique heritage portfolios in the region Colchester does not seem to have any advantage.

Meanwhile, in the Cotswolds, 50,000 Japanese Tourists visit each year and spend £1.5 million in the local economy. The stay occasion was just to take pictures of the picturesque local villages. It is estimated that in 5 years’ time Chinese tourism will match that figure, producing a combined Asian input of £5 million into the local economy per annum.

Imagine what could happen if they knew what we have to offer. Just tapping into this tiny part of the market, the local economy would start to thrive.

So how could we enhance our heritage?

The Roman Chariot Track is very unique and its restoration is paramount. This, along with creating a living village experience with Roman Britain and the Iceni Tribe, would make Colchester an educational destination during the off peak seasons.

Chariot Racing

We also need to exploit the Witchfinder General – Mathew Hopkins’ infamy with Colchester Castle. York Dungeons is success with Dick Turpin shows there is potential locally. A purpose built experience could put Colchester on the leaflet with one of the most visited attractions in London, the London Dungeons.

A purpose built visitor centre in the same vein as the Jorvik Centre in York would be able to showcase our heritage from the Parliamentarians vs Roundheads during the English Civil War, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Humpty Dumpty, to the history of the British Army in the Town.

Imagine thinking even bigger, Colchester could be a destination instead of just a day trip with Constable Country on our doorstep.

Willy Lotts Cottage

The current council are starting to do a great job in lighting up our heritage, however that light needs to be shone brightly outwards to attract more visitors to our historic town.

So what must be done?

The job of promoting Colchester is simple and is not the problem. Any experienced Tourism specialist will do a great job with the correct support, providing there is no local political interference.

However, let us not be naïve with our ‘Field of Dreams’ ethos. The infrastructure needs to be in place so all visitors can have a positive experience. This is where Colchester Borough Council should focus.

The Park and Ride is actually perfect for local inbound visitors, however coach parties would need consideration without putting too much stress on local routes. (If only we had the old Bus Station)

So in summary we have something called ‘Potential’ which is nothing if we not do anything with it.

Scott Everest works as Special Projects Manager for a European based Hotel Group. His experience includes working for Pontins Holidays, CentreParcs, Disneyland Paris and Travelodge in various senior management positions across the UK. He has also attended committee meetings and briefings for the 2012 Olympic committee, and Goverment Department for Culture and Sport for hospitality representing the budget hotel chains. He has also consulted for Norfolk County Council and Blackpool Fylde Council in aspects of Leisure and inbound Tourism.

Scott Everest







Scott Everest


Dragon Colchester Castle

When I was a teenager I lived in Riverside Estate, with Castle Park right on my doorstep, so I have many memories of playing football in the lower park, being chased on our bikes along the riverside path on our way home from school by the park keeper in his little Bedford van  – Colchester wasn’t so cycling friendly then and riding a bike in the park was forbidden – not forgetting sledging down the hill from the upper to lower park and trying to avoid a collision with the Roman wall at the bottom. I think maybe that familiarity at the time prevented me from appreciating what an amazing asset the park is to Colchester, and it is only since returning to live in the town after nearly twenty years spent in Wivenhoe, and living almost by its gates once again, that I truly understand the important role Castle Park plays in the town.

Park Smaller


Over the past few months since my return I have really grown to love this wonderful green space that begins right in the heart of our town centre, behind the magnificent gates by the war memorial in Cowdray Crescent where the High Street meets East Hill, greeting us with its ornamental gardens, before sweeping down the hill to the Roman wall, then the wonderful green space beyond it that stretches along the river, with further grassy areas beyond the gates creating a swathe of green almost from East Mill, past Riverside Estate and Leisure World, taking in the cricket ground then onwards almost to North Station Road.

Castle Tower Reduced


The jewel in the park’s crown is of course Colchester Castle. Built on the orders of William the Conqueror, the castle is the largest Norman Keep in Britain, and was the blueprint for its smaller relative, the Tower of London. The sheer size of the castle always amazes me, as does the thought that it stands on the foundations of the Roman Temple of Claudius which was built by the Romans after they invaded 2000 years ago and made Colchester the country’s original capital. What a breathtaking sight that building must have been! And these days there is something special about seeing people sitting on the grass, enjoying the sun, just feet away from those castle walls that have stood there for nearly 1000 years.

Weir Reduced 1




Living so close to the park these past few months, since the weather has become warmer it’s been a pleasure to take the longer walk home from town via the park after a Saturday afternoon lunch or shopping trip, with the occasional Sunday afternoon walk along the river thrown in. And in recent weeks there always seems to be something going on, whether it’s a brass band providing free entertainment in the bandstand, or the Food and Drink Festival bringing locals and other people into the park from the surrounding areas. And of course we still have the Free Festival to come, which this year we are promised is to be held over two days. But for me the park has really come into its own this past week since the giant television screen has been stalled for the duration of Wimbledon. What a wonderful idea this has been. Watching Wimbledon for free while sitting on the hill in the sun, armed with a picnic, a bottle of wine or couple of beers. Although I’m sure that hill has got steeper as I’ve got older! On days when I’ve been working from home it’s been hard to resist the temptation to slip off for an hour or so to watch the tennis with a cold drink. And, in even better news, Illuminate Design, who provided and installed the screen, are hoping to put on Colchester’s very own Winter Wonderland over the Christmas period to rival the one in London’s Hyde Park, complete with, yes they are serious… an ice skating rink. Fingers crossed they get the green light for this ambitious event which will bring people to the town from far and wide, many of whom will also spend money in the town’s shops, restaurant and pubs, putting money into our local economy.


Gym Reduced


Burgers Reduced



As the weeks go by I find I love Castle Park more and more. New York’s Central Park may be the most famous public park in the World, but it’s got nothing on Colchester’s Castle Park.

 Simon Crow
Simon runs Media48 sponsors of Colchester 101