You’ll have to pay to photograph the Iconic landmark
One of the things I really enjoy about this blog and the Normal For Glastonbury Facebook page is sharing beautiful views of the Tor taken by the many talented local and visiting photographers. This iconic landmark has been captured in images taken throughout the day, through the seasons and from every viewpoint. Sadly, it seems the days of being able to freely photograph the Tor will soon be over.
I had no idea of what was planned until I received this letter in the post, informing me that the image of the Tor has been trademarked by a newly formed company called ‘Glastonbury Tor Ltd’. It was accompanied by a lengthy form which I am apparently required to complete in order to use my own photographs! Needless to say, I was very shocked and angry, I screwed the letter up and threw it in the bin, then had to fish it out to investigate further. Click on the letter to read it in full.
A Desirable Visitor Destination
I managed to contact Wendy Bendelow, the administrator for Glastonbury Tor Ltd, who confirmed that very soon, anyone taking photos or videos of the Tor which will be used commercially would have to seek advance permission and pay a fee. She told me “For the first few months we will have representatives in the area patrolling for photographers using professional camera equipment, tripods, drones, that sort of thing. The new regulations will be explained to them and they will be invited to apply for a license. I expect they’ll be resistant at first, but I’m sure people will get used to it in time”.
She told me that businesses would no longer be able to use any symbol which is a recognizable representation of the Tor and/or St Michael’s Tower in their logos, unless their business and products met the strict criteria set by Glastonbury Tor Ltd. She went on to explain that permission is unlikely to be granted to use Tor symbols in combination with other icons, like the CND sign or rainbow flags, although I understand that permission will be granted for it to be combined with patriotic symbology, such as the George Cross.
When I asked her specifically about my ‘Crap Views of the Tor’ Postcard books and Calendars she told me “Positive representations of Glastonbury will be judged more favourably, so I suggest that you omit the expletive in the title of your book and include only photographs that portray Glastonbury as a desirable visitor destination”. I can only describe myself as gobsmacked.
A Councillor’s Perspective
To discover why these new measures were being taken I spoke to Councillor Michael Hunt who has been involved in the negotiations with Glastonbury Tor Ltd, he explained the situation to me:
“Footfall on Glastonbury Tor increases year on year and it costs a lot of money to maintain. Surveys show that recently tourist numbers are up by 26%, but visitor spend in the town is down by 54%. We had to find a way to cover the costs of maintaining the Tor and contributing to the financial health of the town, while retaining free entry to the monument, as a fence around the entire perimeter would simply be too costly.
It seemed only fair that those who make money from using images of this landmark make a contribution. Glastonbury Tor Ltd is going to give a very generous 25% of their profits directly to maintaining the environment around the Tor and a further 25% to beautification projects in the Town. These will be geared towards smartening it up, giving it a more corporate look and making it more desirable to investors. We started last year with the planters in the High Street, I know they weren’t that well received but the more improvements and modernisations we make to the town the more things like this will just blend in and come to be accepted and loved by locals and tourists.
Personally, I am looking forward to more well-known stores appearing on our High Street. Glastonbury is going to become the West Country’s number one tourist destination and this is an important step in making that happen”.
No More Hippy-Dippy
Wayne Kerr, MD of TorPour Synthetics and Head of the Glastonbury Enterprise and Small Business Group was also positive about the changes.
“Glastonbury has built up a rather hippy-dippy image, which isn’t representative of the town as a whole. The Tor symbol once represented solid British craftsmanship and manufacturing, appearing on locally made shoes and sheepskin goods, cheeses and cider. Nowadays it’s used to promote all sorts of dubious therapies and products. It’s time to reclaim it, as we saw at the Millenium celebrations, the Tor represents England, not just the town. This is our chance to present a more professional image to the world.
Plus, I’m sure that with fewer images of the Tor available, people will want to visit and see it for themselves, which can only be good for local business”.
Other local photographers who specialise in images of the Tor, have informed me that they have received letters from Glastonbury Tor Ltd. One, who is well known in the town but declined to be named, told me: “I wiped my arse with their letter, honestly, they can f*** off, I’ll superglue myself to the bloody Tower before I stop taking photos of it”.
Glastonbury resident Beatrice-Alice Ware, founder of the Glastonbury Truth Society, had an alternative explanation for the restrictions. She told me “It’s obviously a cover-up, there have been increasing numbers of UFO and orb sightings around the Tor, I’ve been logging them on my Facebook Group and we’ve had 742 reports of sightings just this year! People send me photos and I post them up, but the social media sites take them down within minutes. Disclosure is coming soon and Glastonbury is central to the story. They don’t want people photographing the Tor and capturing pictures of alien spacecraft. I’ve been telling people about this for years, they’ve only just started to listen”.
Whatever the real explanation, I’m furious about this development. I’m going to seek legal advice as trademarking the Tor seems scarcely believable, particularly as it seems from their letter that Glastonbury Tor Ltd appear to think they can apply these charges retrospectively. I will be getting together with other small businesses to see what we can do to fight this outrageous scheme before it destroys the livelihoods of many in the town. Personally, I don’t get paid for a lot of the promotion I do for the town on the blog, but instead I make a very modest income from book sales. I may have to redesign the cover of my Normal For Glastonbury paperback and stop producing the Crap Views of the Tor Postcard books altogether, so please do buy one while they’re still available.
Normal For Glastonbury the Paperback
‘Normal For Glastonbury – Life in England’s Most Magical Town’ by Vicki Steward, Illustrated by Debbie De Mornay Penny. Signed paperback. A5 format, 146 pages. P&P £3 to the UK.
Crap Views of Glastonbury Tor Postcard Book
20 postcards featuring the best of the popular series of ‘Crap Views of Glastonbury Tor’ from Normal For Glastonbury, bound into a book.
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