After a quiet 2022, I am back. Warning: These first few posts of the year will likely be out of order and just clearing the backlog of 2022 reviews, because ya gal saw A LOT of venues and shows across this fine country in 2022. This post is also a collaboration with my friend Alex at The VI Critic. Be sure to click the link to check out his content including HIS side of this access review from the viewpoint of someone with a visual impairment. So, here’s my take on the accessibility of Colchester Charter Hall from Cage Warriors 138 back in May 2022.
(Disclaimer: I’m aware “accessibility” means different things to different people, as I said before, these are MY views on my experience of accessibility at this venue as an electric wheelchair user, I obviously can’t speak for other experiences but feel free to add your experiences in the comments!)
The ticket buying experience for this one was a bit of a mission. I initially went straight to Eventim as I know they usually handle Cage Warriors access seating. They advised me to speak to the venue. Having spoken to the venue, they said tickets were nothing to do with them. I was then able to speak with the events manager who was able to open up access seating after some kind of site/team meeting (this was AFTER tickets originally went on sale as far as I remember). THEN it was back to Eventim to book the newly available access seating, and only then were Alex and I able to get the tickets we needed.
The journey to Colchester was a 2 parter (or 3 if you include the tube). First was a trip from Birmingham New Street to London Euston with Avanti. Once I’d made it TO London it was time to make it ACROSS London to Liverpool Street for the train out to Colchester. This is where things got a little tricky. I headed to Euston Square to catch what I thought would be a simple single train to Liverpool Street, however, it transpired that Euston Square was only accessible from one direction (westbound I believe). Which meant I had to make a more convoluted trip to actually make it to Liverpool Street. This also had the knock-on effect of meaning I missed the initial train to Colchester that I was meant to catch. Luckily, I was just able to catch the next Greater Anglia train. These Greater Anglia trains on the Colchester route are actually one of the first that I’ve seen in the UK with full step free access to the train via a ramp IN the train which extends out. However, I found that at Colchester, even with the ramp extension, there was still a slight gap and drop when I disembarked the train which still made me somewhat nervous to disembark alone.
For this particular trip I stayed at the Premier Inn Cowdray Avenue in Colchester. I found this to be a bit of an odd one as it’s one of the few hotels I’ve stayed in which didn’t have a lift to the upper floor at all. But I was able to secure a room on the ground floor. The other odd point here was that I was given an actual physical key to open the door rather than a key card. Whilst I find this more difficult as someone with fine motor control issues, Alex mentioned that a physical key might have plus points over a key card for those with a visual impairment, which is one way I myself didn’t think of in which our access needs could differ. One plus point for this hotel compared to others was the plethora of plug points. This is something I often have an issue with as someone who travels with a lot of tech AND a wheelchair that needs charging. There are rarely enough plugs in the right places to charge everything I need, but that wasn’t a problem at this hotel. I would also like to point out that the staff were very helpful in making sure I had everything I need to be comfortable during my stay. The only issue I had here was the bathroom as this had a sliding door which was very heavy and got stuck on the carpet.
Experience & Seating
The first thing I noticed en route to the venue was the poor-quality pavement between my hotel and said venue. Obviously not the venue’s fault but something to bear in mind, I guess. Once we got to the venue there was somewhat of a queue to get in and a full security check. Then we had our tickets checked and headed into our seats. We were in Row C of Block 2. Whilst this was technically at the back of floor seating, it was a pretty fantastic view for Alex’s first CW event. We were right next to walkout (which means you can spot us on broadcast if you watch back) and Alex even had a gumshield land in his lap! The only issue was it being a little bit of an awkward angle to look at the big screens (something I like to do to see the intricacies of submission attempts that I can’t quite see properly looking at the cage). It was a brilliant event and Alex even asked if he could come to the London event in July (held at Indigo at the O2 which I have already previously reviewed) as soon as we left the event! Being in the back row of the floor also meant leaving the event was quite easy and there wasn’t too much of a crowd to work through.
When it came time to travel home, the travel back into London was a little different than the journey OUT of London. I followed the signs from my hotel to the train station to find that the signs had sent me to the wrong side of the station for wheelchair access to the platform. Thankfully, the staff walked me back out and around the station in the rain so I could access the correct platform. I then hopped on the train to Liverpool Street. From there I had to take the Metropolitan line all the way to Aldgate, stay on that train and wait for it to reverse back so I could get off at Euston Square (see my earlier note about Euston Square only being accessible in one direction). From there it was a quick walk to Euston where I caught the train back to Birmingham.
I hope this accessibility review of trains, a Premier Inn and Colchester Charter Hall was informative. Be sure to check out Alex’s side of the collaboration and keep an eye on my Cage Warriors blog posts for more of my reviews having spent 2022 following the promotion all over the place.
Em (Invincible Woman On Wheels)
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