CULTURAL diversity is key to Barton as it shrugs off the negative image of the past and embraces a newfound success.
Business leaders from around Barton have spoken out in support of their area after shopkeeper Krishnaventhan Thiyagarajah said he was plagued by crime at TKS Food and Wine Store.
Graham Bocking, manager at Sainsbury’s, which opened up seven months ago, said: “Barton is a great community which is definitely on the up and we are doing all we can to help with that.
“More people are coming to this area. We’ve been so busy, going at breakneck speed.”
He said that the store had an important role to play in its community work. Food waste goes to animals at St James’ City Farm, discontinued ‘back to school’ products were given to a Barton school and the store paid for food for last year’s cultural fair. They have just forked out for new goalposts in the park too.
Dashti Mohammad, owner of Aland Barbers, said: “Everything is great about Barton. We have been here for seven or eight years now and we’ve never had any trouble.
“Whatever you want, you can find it here in Barton. People come from all over to come to the food stores or for a haircut.
“Many years ago it was a rough area but not anymore. There’s a nice community here with people from every background.”
Property developer Saqib Rasul is among those turning around Barton’s image, having recently taken on the project of reopening the former Picturedrome theatre.
The venue is a testament to Barton’s cultural past.
In 1986, the Gloucester Operatic and Dramatic Society moved into the building and re-opened it as the New Olympus Theatre. But in its early days the Picturedrome was a hugely popular cinema and in 1947 for the first showing of Gone with the Wind queues stretched all along Victoria
Theatre historian Jean Holmer said: “Patrons queued for four hours and those at the back of the
queue still didn’t get to see the film as the last showing had started by the time they reached the front of the queue.”
Old pictures have also been sourced by the Barton and Tredworth Community Heritage project which show the Barton Fair of 1903 and 1904.
The area also appoints a Mock Mayor each year, which is an ancient role thought to date back to as early as the Civil War. The current mayor is Peter Wilson, a BBC radio presenter.