Reprinted from Newsletter 125, dated 2008 June

Gauntlet wins regional award for quality of building

Jim Nagel

A man wearing jeans, a collared partially-unbuttoned white shirt, a long black jacket, and sunglasses looks at the camera. He stands in a very narrow alley lined with boutiques. At the rear can be seen a passageway seading beyond. A signpost stands in the centre. On the end closest to the camera a metal archway crosses the alley, with gold letters spelling “the gauntlet”, though this is backwards from our point of view.

Doug Hill, the winning developer, in the middle of his project, The Gauntlet.

The Gauntlet has gone on to win the Southwest regional Built in Quality award in April and is in the running (so to speak) for the national award to be announced on October 16.

The developer, Doug Hill, from Weston-super-Mare, was given the prize for “best commercial extension or alteration” at a do in the Grand Hotel, Torquay, on April 18. The national award will be announced on October 16 in London. He had already won the Mendip prize at the end of January.

Only three of the 17 small shops at the Gauntlet remain empty, and all the flats above are occupied. Among the most recent to open are the Coffee Been (slogan: “Have you bean yet?”) and a shopfront for Glastonbury Net Radio, whose studio is two doors away, behind Gothic Image (Mr Hill is one of its directors). All the shops are listed at its website.

Its full-time caretaker deserves credit for a big role in the Gauntlet’s success. He is Ken Mason, who lives within a few minutes’ walk.

Stylish fingerboards around the town pointing to the Town Hall, the Abbey, other attractions and finally “The Gauntlet, Glastonbury’s premier shopping thoroughfare” are also Mr Hill’s work, by arrangement with the district council.

The Built in Quality scheme, now in its second year, promotes “high-quality building projects that deliver partnership, innovation and sustainability”. Behind it is LABC, the national body for local-authority building-control departments.

Michael Eavis presented the certificates at the Town Hall in January. Another award went to The Tanneries, as the new houses at the old gasworks site in Northload Street have been named. Marchant’s Buildings, owned by Bill Knight in Northload Street, also received a nomination.

“Well done, all concerned,” said John Brunsdon, as mayor (term just ended) and Conservation Society chairman. “We are fortunate that much recent new build in the town is of a good standard.”

Running the Gauntlet, a convenient pedestrian link between the High Street and St John’s carpark, takes you past Elements of Desire, Charm, Deborah Rose (goth items), Prepare for Takeoff (lingerie), Whispered Wishes (handmade gifts), Enchanted Florals, Witchcraft Emporium, the Wardrobe (ladies’ Eastern-style clothing), Ceiltik (Celtic goods), Cowshed Products (handmade creams etc), the clairvoyant Yvonne Anne and Serendipity. Facing the shops, a suit of armour is set into a niche along the adjacent Tribunal wall.