Having completely freaked at the unwelcoming – to hefty power wheelchairs – terrain outside Kings Place a few years ago, I finally plucked up the courage to give it another try last night and, yay, I made it all the way to the concert hall to see the fabulous Sarah Jane Morris and Antonio Forcione. Result.
However, despite my success this time, I do still consider the roads and pavements outside of Kings Place – very slope-y, no easy drop off point, limited blue badge parking in unfriendly spots – to be poor and intimidating especially to novice power wheelchair users.
I can quite see why I freaked on only my third or fourth trip out in my power chair and find it hard to understand why, in such a newly developed area, more consideration wasn’t given to ease of access as well as just access.
Controlling a heavy power wheelchair across busy roads, turning on a slope, on uneven roads and paths is an ask for an experienced wheelchair user and, frankly, is probably tricky for a lot of self-propelling and manual wheelchairs too. I do wonder if anyone ever consults an actual wheelchair user – or even a few differing ones – about these things?
At Kings Place, there was an obvious solution because there is a side road that could be easily utilised as a drop off point but instead it’s been made into a bicycle storage point. When we asked the best drop off for a wheelchair, we were told ‘outside the front’. So, on the busy road at the top of the hill … yes, of course, obvious place!
Anyway, despite my moans, as a much more experienced outside power chair user now, I did manage to traverse the terrain without too much trouble. We did go to the side road – the two blue badge spaces there were suspended because of building works – and D dropped me off on the road (not ideal but it wasn’t too busy so manageable), parked across the road in a blue badge space and accompanied me across the shortest route of least severe slopes into the Kings Place – totally level – entrance.
Once inside, all was great. Floors level. Lifts working. Flat entrance to concert hall. Easy slope from entrance to front row space with D next to me. Wheelie dreamstuff.
The concert was fantastic if you like soulful, jazzy music with a message or two to make you think. Sarah Jane Morris has an amazing voice and Antonio Forcione and the rest of the musicians went with her all the way. Read more on the Sarah Jane Morris website and do go see her if you like.
As for Kings Place, I’m so glad I made it and, now I’ve done it once, I’m sure I’ll be back. It’s a very music friendly space like the Wigmore Hall and, overlooking the canal, a nice place for drinks and snacking too.
All in all, a great night out.