Mansfield suffered the indignity of being Number 9 on the list of worst places to live in Britain, according to the television show 'Location, Location, Location' a couple of years ago.
So, were they right?
The first thing that has to be mentioned is the fighting spirit: Unlike any other town mentioned in the notorious list, Mansfield responded to Kirsty and Phil by installing a giant postcard in the middle of the town and allowing local residents their right to reply. The mind boggles as to what would have been written on it, but it was sent off to Channel 4 nonetheless.....
Mansfield was a former mining town, which then went into severe decline in the eighties and nineties. What is it like today?
Firstly, a general indicator of an upturn, are the property prices in the town: Mansfield used to be extremely cheap for the East Midlands area, yet in the early part of this decade, prices suddenly doubled within a year: This was probably related to the huge growth of shops and business premises being built in the area.
In the town centre, there is a thriving market on most days of the week, which takes places on a newly renovated pitch. Around this, there is a large shopping centre, The Four Seasons, which contains most major high street shops, including Debenhams, TopShop, River Island, Primark etc.
For food shopping, every major supermarket is represented here (not including Waitrose!).
There are excellent sporting and leisure facilities too, with the Water Meadows complex being one of the best in the Midlands. Across the road from this stands Mansfield Town Football Club.
Local amenities such as libraries, doctors surgeries, dentists, schools and religious communities are all well provided, and transport to nearby towns and cities is available by bus or train.
For a long time, Mansfield was famous for being the largest town in England without a railway station, but since this was corrected in the mid-1990's, the situation has improved considerably.
Nightlife is lively, mainly concentrated in the town centre, with many nightclubs, pubs and restaurants.
Overall, Mansfield is a large town that is well equipped and has fought back from serious problems. Like all towns and cities, it still has its' fair share of troubles, but it's certainly no worse than anywhere else.
Mansfield is right in the centre of England and probably one of the furthest towns from the sea in any direction. The town grew because of the vast reserves of coal in this area as many collieries were sunk around the town at the end of the 19th century. However, there are records of a town on this site back in the Domesday Book. Most of the collieries have now disappeared and during the ten years 1990 –2000 the town went into a serious decline. Unemployment was very high and this was added to by the closure of many local textile firms, another major industry of the area. In the past couple of years there has been huge investments made in and around the town with many new industrial parks and new businesses being attracted into the town. Because of the decline of the coal industry there has been substantial European funding and central government money spent in the town to try to revitalise the area and this is now working. As the regeneration is starting to take effect there is a feeling that the town is starting to come alive again. Large sections of the workforce have been re-trained and the new modern industries coming into the town are bringing back valuable jobs. Part of this revival has been the re-establishment of a train station in Mansfield. For many years Mansfield had the unenvious title of being the largest town in Britain without a train station. Recently the old station buildings have also been renovated and now it looks like a proper station and not just an empty platform. Around the town centre there are new shopping areas being built, new restaurants are opening, two new large fitness clubs have recently opened and there is a feel that things are getting better. The house prices in the area are still incredibly low, but this is acting as an attraction for people to move into the town, especially as the new businesses are being established here. The area surrounding Mansfi
eld is of course Sherwood Forest and although the traditional Robin Hood legends associate this forest with Nottingham the area of the forest that now remains is all around Mansfield. The town has never made very much of being a tourist attraction, but in its revival I believe this will form a big part in turning Mansfield into a major tourist centre. The town is currently fighting to keep open the Mansfield Brewery, which has a strong place in the hearts of many local drinkers. Hopefully it looks like a group of local businessmen are going to buy it out and keep open this brewing tradition in the town. Mansfield is a town that has gone through a rough decade, but now it is rising again and hopefully soon will be back as a thriving and interesting town. If you are in the county then come and see our town. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.