The City of Victoria
The Commercial Capital of Wellon
By D Hebditch
The City of Victoria lies in the heart of the region known as North Albion and is one of the two major cities in the region. Victoria was founded early in the first wave of British colonisation to Tirane in 2171, four years after the capital of New Camelot. The city grew quickly and benefited from its position near the fertile North Albion Plain as well as its coastal setting, later it would grow to become a major transportation hub. It was always intended to be a city based on service and intellectual industries and today the city dominates the banking, legal and commercial sectors of the Wellonese economies. The Victorians have become renowned in other parts of Wellon as being hard faced, fast talking people who are obsessed with money. Whilst there is some truth in this stereotype it doesn't do justice to a vibrant and cosmopolitan city which is a home to 7 million people.
Victoria was founded in 2171 as the hub settlement for the area known as the North Albion Plain. The actual site had been chosen many years before following favourable BACS reports of the area which led to the deployment of a survey team from the Colonial Office in 2159. This team conducted a total investigation of the area as well as more detailed mapping, the team then returned to Earth where they prepared a proposal from the development of a hub which was successful. In 2160 planning of the new city was underway with the development of a very expensive full immersion simulation through which prospective investors and colonists could actually 'walk' through the new city before it was even built. It was this simulation and other innovative PR methods that accounted for the rapid initial success of Victoria in comparison with New Birmingham further North.
Initial construction was planned to begin in 2165, but in 2162 the Alpha Centauri War broke out between the European Space Agency nations and Argentina who blockaded Tirane. Fighting between Argentine warships and ESA armed merchants at Alpha Centauri almost flared into war on Earth as ESA fleets massed off South America before eventually the dispute was resolved by international diplomacy. The original settlement timetable was put back as plans were changed to include a on-planet military garrison and a militarised orbital station. For a time it looked as if the settlement of Victoria would not go ahead and the area assigned to another colonising nation, but this was eventually decided against and planning put back on track. In 2171, six years later than originally planned, builders from Colonial Engineering set to work establishing the infrastructure and key buildings of the three original districts. Three months later the first of the almost 100 000 colonists, almost all from the British Isles, due in the first year began to flood into the city.
Thanks to years of pre-training, planning and computer modelling combined with the lessons learnt from the establishment of other cities on New Albion this influx was remarkably smooth. The city was up and running in quick time - with administration and services in place being fed first by imports and soon by local farmers. Around this spine the rest of the city soon formed with businesses, industry and schools being established. Mistakes were made, rioting shook the city in 2174 after food shortages, but Victoria grew quickly with more and more colonists arriving every week.
One of the key figures in the development of Victoria was Catherine Wellon, a founder member of the FPK and former member of the BACS teams who was renowned for her face-off against a team of Argentine commandos during the Alpha Centauri War. A forceful personality, she was closely involved in the development of Victoria and became the city's second Commissioner ousting the diffident bureaucrat who had previously held the position. It was her input that pushed Victoria into its rivalry with neighbouring New Birmingham expanding much faster than the original plans. She was a very effective administrator who drew many rich corporations to Victoria as well as being very much the politician.
However in 2180 a slow disaster struck Victoria and the surrounding countryside as a sickness that became known as the Gelb Plague was first reported. The Gelb Plague was a slow acting yet debilitating wasting illness that was inevitably fatal. It sparked panic in Victoria when it was discovered and infection ran rampant in the Peel District, violence broke out when colonists took measures against their infected neighbours to prevent the disease from spreading. Although this initially was a form of quarantine it soon spiralled into looting and on one occasion the burning down of a house filled with victims of the disease. The official response was quick as the Commissioner Wellon sent troops onto the streets to restore order whilst calling in specialist medical teams.
The Gelb Plague stymied initial attempts at identification of its origins and method of infection and as a result a quarantine system was imposed with suffers transported to a small island in St Vincent Bay soon to be known as Nightingale Island. On Nightingale special medical facilities were set up to combat the disease and try and treat the many victims, and by 2186 vaccine and hygiene measures had been developed that had almost completely stopped the spread of the Gelb Plague. However all those still infected were doomed to a slow death, amongst these was Catherine Wellon who died in Jan 2187 the most prominent of nearly 5000 Victorians who succumbed to the plague.
The same year saw the creation of North Albion and the abolition of the position of Commissioner, which was never filled after Catherine Wellon died. The position was replaced by a less powerful City Council headed by a Lord Mayor and many of the powers invested in the Governor of North Albion based in New Birmingham. Nevertheless the city continued to grow although this expansion was less smooth than the initial foundation especially in the newly founded outer districts where crime rocketed. Whilst the Victoria police more or less kept a lid on social tensions the economy boomed fuelled by the influx of colonists. Unfortunately many of the criminals targeted in the city merely moved out into the countryside and eventually had to be suppressed with military force.
The aftermath of the Gelb Plague and new waves of colonists brought about a period of political instability in the city as several radical political parties sprang up demanding more rights for new colonists. Although there was no legislation discriminating against newer colonists, those that had been longer were well established and in position to make money from the newcomers. Some of these parties were very radical and developed violent youth movements or sabotage cells. A consequence of this pressure was a succession of rioting, elections, unstable minority governments and eventually a State of Emergency. This instability was eventually overcome by a mixture of social and legal measures but its after effects live on today in the readiness of the Royal Victoria Metropolitan Police to tackle rioters with full force.
With the turn of the century the city became increasingly tied to its Japanese neighbours across the Great Western Ocean. Victoria's de-regulated and freewheeling economy proved inviting to Japanese corporations and investors. This commercial interest was strengthened by the enduring mutual fascination of each others cultures that has long been a factor in relations between these two island nations. This Japanese-Amaterasujin link has flourished over the years with Victoria having at well over 100000 citizens having dual nationality and far more with some heritage however mixed. The influx of Japanese-Amaterasujin culture has proved even stronger with many customs and idiosyncrasies becoming a part of the Victorian mainstream.
The twenty-five years following the turn of the century saw a slow, sustained influx of colonists from Earth. These came from much more mixed origins than the original colonists with arrivals from across the whole of the Commonwealth of Nations. Most were highly qualified and many were sponsored by large corporations based in Victoria. Thanks to the upheaval of the last decade of the 22nd century the procedures for integrating newcomers had been greatly improved. The city was able to harness the energy of this new wave of colonisation to create the largest single city economy in the Tiralbion, surpassing all of its rivals. Most importantly it gained a march in the provision of financial investment and bought into the economies of the other cities.
In 2241 the three colonies of the Tiralbion were united under the new Dominion of Wellon with substantial Home Rule from Britain. For the Victorians this event was regarded mostly without any great enthusiasm. Indeed many thought of it as an attempt by the power brokers of New Camelot to reign back their success. The loyalty of Victorians remained predominantly with their city and North Albion - the renaming of which to Western New Albion never really caught on.
The middle years of the century saw the city growing once again, fuelled this time by the industry of 1st, 2nd and 3rd generation colonists as well as people relocating to the city from Cutter's Spur and the North Albion Plain. The city expanded beyond the Ring with new suburbs springing up and a new airport established. Dedicated industrial zones were also set up to the east of the city and quickly attracted some major operations including Black Arrow's new main Wellon factory. The Victoria's ports were constantly in action shipping goods across Tirane.
The era of the Commonwealth of Wellon came but was overshadowed by a period of recession in Victoria's key service industries following a crash in the stock market and a period of retrenchment. Only consumer spending kept the Victorian economy functioning during a two year period which was notable for the pessimistic attitudes of government. This coincided with a brief outbreak of the Gelb Plague in the Peel District. The situation began to recover in the '80's as the Wellonese Home Secretary Oliver Singh, formerly an Assembly Member for a Victoria constituency introduced business-friendly reforms which lifted the gloom.
Victoria's resurgence following the crash was capped by the enticement of the Western New Albion Assembly from New Birmingham to a purpose built site on the banks of the Hamoaze. This even resulted in a week of celebrations by Victorians, glorying in getting one over on their northern rivals. Today Victoria is a vibrant, even cocky, city that is wealthy, cosmopolitan but also wracked with social division and blue and white collar criminality.
Victoria is located on the long northern coastline of North Albion, looking out on to the Great Western Ocean on the southern edge of the North Albion Plain. The area is comprised of rolling hills and is some 75km north east of the mountainous Cutter's Spur that reaches down from the Pendragon Mountains.
Victoria is based around St Vincent Bay and two rivers that run into it, the Koh and the Hamoaze. The latter is a smaller river but more prone to flooding. The Koh flows into the city and in the Brunel District enters the step sided Koh Gorge before being contained in the Russell Reservoir. There are three main ridges, the Crown Ridge that runs between the Koh and the Hamoaze, the Wellon Ridge that lies to the west of the Hamoaze and lastly the Empress Ridge that lies east of the Koh. To the north of the Empress Ridge is the Plain of St George and area of low ground that runs out into the North Albion Plain proper and is where the bulk of the city has expanded to over the years.
On the western side of the bay the ocean shore has several excellent beaches and climbs up to the Gold Hill, a coastal ridge which still retains much of its forests. St Vincent Bay itself is an excellent anchorage although it proved vulnerable to the Tsunami of 2267 and defences were built as a result. The Bay has a number of small islands or which only Nightingale Island is large enough to be significant. The ocean shore on the eastern side is initially dominated by cliffs and is relatively inaccessible and is backed by the long Carrick Ridge for nearly 20 km before dropping down to a long sandy coastline with off shore reefs.
There are a number of key transportation links that divide the region. The main one is the NM1 motorway that runs parallel to the coast before looping around the city, this is known as 'The Ring'. Inside the city connecting the three original districts is the inner ring road. This is connected to the Ring by five major roads. Lastly the maglev line from Mont Royal runs into the city from the north and two lines run out to the south to New Anglia and New Capetown.
Victoria's weather is typical of the region. Warm summers and mild winters are counter-balanced by wet springs and autumns. The effect of the Grandseasons is usually to reinforce these general trends.
The Districts of Victoria are predominantly named after key public figures of the Victorian Era and are subdivided into another number of sub-districts which are assigned numbers. This gives Victoria its post-code system and is also commonly used by people to indicated certain geographical areas. E.g. The 1st sub-district of Albert is designated as VA1 and so on.
Albert is the central district of Victoria, housing the city government, major businesses and the city centre. The district can be split into three separate areas; the area that faces onto St Vincent Bay, the area known as 'Little Venice' and the area on the high ground of Crown Ridge. The city centre is an area renowned for its crowds; fast moving, distracted locals hurrying to the next appointment through milling tourists.
The bay front area is dominated by local government and commercial buildings which cluster along the Bund as it runs along the southern edge of the bay. Many of these buildings date back to the last decades of the 22nd century and were built by some of the corporations that invested in Victoria. Even more were built in the 23rd century as new-build or as part of re-development programs. Consequently the area has a great mixture of architecture; from pseudo-gothic to ultra-modern. Nevertheless the Bund and its massive buildings are one of the key signature images of Victoria.
The Bund itself is a wide, tree-lined boulevard thoroughfare carrying both cars and trams that runs around the circumference of the bay behind the sea wall. The area is crowded most nights with Victorians out promenading and there are many restaurants, bars and street performers in Albert. Back from the Bund in the city centre area built around the central City Square are a number of key buildings including Victoria City Council, the Wellon Stock Exchange, North Albion Bank and many other blue chip commercial enterprises and banks. The area is one of the most expensive areas of Wellon and only wealthy companies can afford to base themselves here, however many maintain a 'front office' here for prestige reasons even if most of their business is done elsewhere.
Little Venice is the area to the south-east of the Bund where the Koh reaches the bay, although by this stage the river has been contained and canalised through the sub-districts. Little Venice is comprised of a grid of canals, tramways and paths and except for the trams is entirely pedestrianised. Like most of the rest of Albert the district is architecturally mixed, some parts of VA10 and VA13 are almost unchanged since the foundation of the city and have a profusion of tight back streets and canals. Others are more modern such as the Venezia Wellonia Building in the heart of the area. Little Venice is the central retail district and is touted as one of the finest shopping experiences in Wellon. Consequently the area is always heaving with people day and night, and has many exclusive restaurants, bars, night-clubs and cafes to choose from.
The last part of Albert is that which covers the slopes and small plateau on the northern end of the Crown Ridge. The tight, winding streets are dominated by neo-Edwardian town houses, establishment clubs and up-market hotels. On the northernmost tip of the ridge, overlooking the bay is the Victoria Cathedral which is a popular spot for tourists many of whom climb up the steep steps up from the foot of the ridge. Underneath the ridge to the south of the Cathedral is Victoria Central Station where the maglev stops. Whilst the front entrance into the subterranean complex is another landmark the station has increasingly become a dangerous place after nightfall.
Gladstone district is located to the west of Albert and sweeps northwards around the edge of the bay onto the high ground overlooking the Great Western Ocean. The area has a combination of upscale housing and large businesses. The latter are usually found in the south of the district on the boundary with Albert and the central business district, although there is another business area on the Gold Hill coastal ridge. The latter is dominated by the city's Japanese-Amaterasujin companies, especially the sprawling Erin complex run by the Poseidon Group.
The area of Gladstone along the bay sees the Bund continue its curve along the coast although the buildings here are dominated by hotels and private residences. In several places there are small beaches, although bathing is relatively unpopular even though the bay has been cleaned of pollution compared to the middle years if the century. There are also several yachting and watersports clubs along the bay side, the most prestigious of which is the Royal Victoria Yacht Club. At the south end of the Bund near the mouth of the Hamoaze is the church of St. Jude which is set in formal gardens and commemorates the victims of the Tsunami of 2267.
South west of the Bund is the main residential area of the district which covers the area around Reform Park, a large area of woods and water features as popular with practitioners of Tai Chi in the morning as it is with muggers and drug addicts after dark. The area is mostly prosperous and is home to the city's greatest concentration of people of Japanese descent and has a distinct array of shops, restaurants and bars. As the area rises towards Gold Hill it becomes increasingly exclusive and many large compounds here belong to the city's big hitters. The northern side of Gold Hill is still forested and home to only a few houses, however there are several fine, if always crowded, beaches on the coastline.
The Peel District is located to the north of Albert and reaches up to the coastline on the eastern side of the bay. The area is composed primarily of docklands, warehousing, low rent housing and housing re-development projects. By and large the residents are known for being down to earth, bloody minded and outspoken although there are increasing numbers of white collar workers drawn by the relatively low cost of housing.
Jutting out into the bay is a small peninsular known as the Old Docks. This area was originally home to Victoria's first docks, warehousing and bases both for the Royal Navy and the RMCLI battalions of the garrison. Today these have mostly faded away with warehouses converted to middle scale housing whilst the RN and RMCLI bases are museums. Today the docks is a passenger terminal only for ferries, cruise-liners and a base for that portion of the fishing fleet not based out in Alexandra.
West of the Old Docks is the heart of Peel, an area still clogged with linear streets and 10K housing and known as the Boroughs. Some areas have been gentrified and bought up by young business people but most remains much as it has since first built in the 2170's. The area's infrastructure is slowly decaying and the process of replacing it is progressing slowly at best. The social layout of this part of Peel is very complicated with the tone and outlook of the place changing every few streets and it is a veritable melting pot. As each successive wave of colonisation has come to Victoria many have begun their live on Tirane here, most move on but many remain. Social problems are many, gang violence is high and education levels are some of the lowest in any major city. Nevertheless the Boroughs are a vibrant area.
As the coast sweeps round to the north from the Old Docks an area of cheap hotels, amusement parlours, bars and night clubs built around a small selection of roller-coasters and other rides. The Amusement Strip is something of an embarrassment to many Victorians with its tacky outlook and tatty buildings, but it remains very popular with many people and is always busy. The Strip has its darker side however and much of the city's human flotsam washes up here in the back streets.
The north of the district is dominated by Carrick Ridge which parallels the coastline. The ridge is predominantly a middle class area, home to many of the districts schools and other civil buildings. Most notable of these is HWMP Carrick, the ageing, mouldering prison complex in which many of the district and city's juvenile offenders are incarcerated. To have done a stint in 'Carrick Nick' is a sign of prestige to some in the youth gangs, and many carry a prison tattoo. Wellonese prison reformers have targeted HWMP Carrick for drastic reform or closure.
Canning is the westernmost district of Victoria reaching from the coast down to where the Hamoaze reaches the Ring. It is a mixed district including industrial, residential and retail zones. In the north the district has some excellent beaches and a renowned water-park on the low slopes of the western end of Gold Hill. The hill itself is home to the same sorts of business and houses found on the hill in the neighbouring Gladstone District. The largely peaceful atmosphere on the hill is often broken by planes coming into land at Victoria City Airport which is just inside the Ring at the foot of Gold Hill. The area around the airport is home to several small aerospace companies.
The area south of the Great Western Road and north of the maglev line is crowded with large shopping mall complexes, known as the Malls, many of which are open throughout the day and night. These are always crowded and fed by vast subterranean carparks (over which are sculpted parks), underground and tram stations. Some people visit this area from across North Albion, whilst others avoid the area like the plague. Petty crime is a problem and RVMP have a strong presence here alongside Victoria Police Auxiliaries paid for by the mall complexes. East of the Malls is the western part of Reform Park, a much more restful area.
Most of the rest of the district which rises up onto Wellon Ridge is composed of residential zones. These include some areas of 10K housing popular with young people as their first step on the house-owning ladder, which are scattered across the district. Other areas are home to families of Narvickers who have moved to the city from Cutter's Spur. These form a distinct community within the district and there are many Narvik style sports bars in the area whilst these people form the backbone of many of Victoria's rugby clubs. Much of the rest of the district is home to redeveloped zones previously of 10K houses demolished to make way for newer structures. Many of these are home to wealth new colonists or people trading up from homes in Peel or Disreali Districts.
The south of Canning has a number of small industry and trading parks. These include the factory that produces much of the famous NFI flat-pack furniture that furnishes many Wellonese homes. The Hamoaze runs in the east of the district and its banks (which also comprise the flood plain) are home to a number of small parks as well as playing fields. The Dorfields horse racing track is also in this area 3 km north of the Ring. Lastly the large HMWP Armlet prison which deals with adult offenders is a major landmark near the Ring-Great Southern Road interchange.
The Darwin District is located to the south of Albert and covers the area of the Crown Ridge between the inner ring road and the Ring and from the Hamoaze in the west to the start of the Koh Gorge in the east. It is the second most prestigious area in the city after Albert and is home to the Black Library, Darwin Institute and the West New Albion Assembly building.
Darwin is one of the most sought after addresses in the city, away from the bustle of Albert and the crime of less wealthy districts. Soon after the establishment of the city wealthy business people and the aristocracy began building town houses and buying up large areas of land in the are. As the city expanded and the district formally created many made their fortunes selling land or in property development as late-comers arrived in the area and had to pay extra. Today the wooded slopes of Crown Ridge is still dominated by these town houses, including that first owned by Catherine Wellon or high rent apartment complexes.
The highest ground on the ridge is known as Marsden Crag and is best known for the Black Library that seems to loom over the city. The black marble acropolis is a combination of library, archive and cultural centre and its associated Trust is an organisation of considerable wealth and influence. The Black Library is always busy with researchers from across Tirane delving through its archives, at night concerts bring in the crowds and exhibitions attract the public throughout the day. The Library has its own Underground and tram stations.
In the north-west of Darwin on the banks of the Hamoaze is the spacious Parc d' Évolution. The centre of the park has been taken over as the site for the new WNA Assembly, known as North Albion House, the use of this prime green-field site within the city enraged some environmentalists but went ahead anyway. The building is a circular, wheel shaped design built on an artificial landscaped island with the Hamoaze flowing fast around its circumference. The Assembly is approachable across by a single bridge which brings road traffic and trams to the building. There is limited parking underground on the north side of the island. Inside North Albion House the outer areas are used as office space and the circular hub is the site of the Assembly Room itself - a spacious area light naturally by the large stained crystal window above.
Brunel is the district in which the bulk of Victoria's academic institutions are located and is notable for the high proportion of students living here. The institutions are stacked up along and either side of the Great Eastern Road roughly in prestige order, with the University of Victoria closest to the inner ring road, Catherine Wellon University next followed by the small North Albion University of Tirane and with Victoria Technical University closest to the Ring and numerous specialist institutions nestling in between. The front facades of the universities are all large, stately buildings built in the 20's but behind them there is a rabbit warren of structures housing most of the departments.
The streets paralleling the Great Eastern Road are built up with tenement style buildings housing both the area's student population and the businesses that support them. Naturally there is also a large number of cafés, clubs and bars and the area is renowned for its rowdy nightlife. Many performers that make their name in the cutting edge experimental clubs in Brunel go on to the more highly paid venues in Albert but often looses that 'edge' in the process. The area teems with students from across Wellon and sometimes from other parts of Tirane and depending on your point of view can be a hotbed of intellectual debate or the centre of student tedium.
Around the northern side of Russell Reservoir are a large number of municipal playing fields and the small 20000 capacity City of Victoria Stadium utilised for medium scale sporting events and concerts. To the south is Great Britain Park, an area of exclusively terran flora which runs for several kilometres back into the Koh Gorge under the IK Brunel Bridge which spans the gorge for the maglev line. Beyond this the banks of the Koh are lined with upscale housing similar to that in neighbouring Darwin district.
The high ground of Empress Ridge is given over to suburban developments started in the 40's which combines middle class housing for workers in nearby Bell District and student over-spill. Most notably this area is home to Stadium Victoria the huge 100 000 seat stadium and sports complex that stands on the highest ground and looks out across the city.
Disreali is a primarily residential are and is located to the east of Peel and shares some of that area's characteristics. In particular the Boroughs continue across in to the centre of Disreali, the only real difference is that property values in Disreali are slightly higher and redevelopment is somewhat faster paced in Disreali. The south of the district is similarly residential although it is marked by a high proportion of students who prefer the lower rents of the area.
Disreali also has its own greenbelt in an area of native woodland that runs on either side of the maglev line through the district. This has recently become notorious due to the recent arrival of a large community of Travellers who are now squatting in the area. In the area of the Carrick Ridge the district becomes dominated by upscale housing and civic buildings such as schools and colleges. Also found in the VDI6 sub-district are the offices of The Victorian the city's pre-eminent newspaper which also has a substantial regional and national readership.
Nightingale Island is a unique district as it has a very small population. Located in the centre of the bay it was used as a quarantine area during the Yellow Plague and it was here that efforts were made to combat the disease and that the dead were buried. Today the island is a combination of shrine, giant graveyard and museum. A mixture of pristine gardens, shady groves of trees, row upon row of white tombstones and the marble Nightingale Church the area has a peacefulness that is rare in the heart of the bustling city. Accessible only by boat, the island draws sizeable crowds every day, many of whom come to see the grave of Catherine Wellon which lies without ostentation in Row 23 of Plot D.
Wilberforce is the main residential suburb of Victoria and is located outside of the Ring to the south of the city. The development of the district began in 2156 to provide living room for the city's further expansion and it has grown steadily ever since. The district has a reputation as being something of boring place to live and it is the butt of constant jokes as 'typical' North Albion suburbia.
Wilberforce was designed to have a range of different types of housing within each sub-district to encourage a mixed outlook and population. However certain sub-districts have always been more sought after than others, in particular those on the Heights of Abraham and in the Koh Valley. The district is criss-crossed with transportation routes and in the mornings the stops and stations are crowded with workers commuting into the city or to jobs in Bell District.
Every sub-district has its own local shops and the district has a central shopping and administration area. Unusually this area has some of the best night clubs in the city and many young people travel up from other districts on a weekend. Just south of this area is Emancipation Park now notorious as the site of much youth violence, despite a strong VPA presence very few citizens of Wilberforce venture into the park after nightfall.
Bell District is Victoria's major industrial zone and is located to the south east of the city. The district was first home to the city's first rectenna farm, however in the 50's it was decided to create a dedicated district to host the city's burgeoning industry. Consequently after heavy investment in infrastructure by the City Council the first corporations began to move in. One of the first was Black Arrow whose major Tiranean factory is located in this area amidst heavy VPA security. Since then factory complexes, large and small, have sprung up across the area.
The district has quite strict environmental regulations covering everything from the number of trees within a certain sub-district to the level of pollutants allowed in the atmosphere. In particular the district has a very advanced effluent treatment plant just off the Ring. This is typical of the area's infrastructure with 3 underground stations, excellent road and tram links as well as a cargo railhead with conventional and maglev connections. Services in the area are minimal, with a few cafés, bars and general shops scattered about but most complexes have similar facilities.
Alexandra was established at the turn of the last century as Port Alexandra when it became obvious that the Old Docks in St Vincent Bay were unable to cope with the rapidly increasing trade volume and had no room for expansion. Initially the area was purely an port zone with civilian and military facilities nestling inside massive artificial harbour walls. Housing for workers and their families quickly followed as did service industries and Port Alexandra was soon a thriving town. In 2241 the town was incorporated into the City of Victoria as the Alexandra District, although most Alexandrans still see themselves as separate from the Victorians.
The western part of the town in dominated by the military in a strip that runs back from the Princess Alexandra naval docks, through several barracks and depot complexes to RWAF Alexandra airbase. In between these fenced off areas are housing complexes devoted to service families and shops and bars that support them. The eastern part of town is home to the city's civilian docks. Originally state of the art, these have decayed somewhat through the years and are now more manpower intensive than the average. Just to the south of the docks is the cargo railhead.
Alexandra has quite a lively town centre to the south of the civilian docks; where locals, soldiers and sailors from across Tirane rub shoulders. A comprehensive array of shops and other facilities can also be found in this area. The bulk of Alexandra's residential areas can be found on either side of the NM1 motorway. This area is also home to Victoria International Airport and as a result has seen relatively little new influx of population even considering the area's closeness to Bell District.
The day to day running of the city is in the hand of the City of Victoria Council. The council is elected on universal suffrage by every citizen of the city once every four years. In total the council comprises some 50 members elected on a district basis by proportional representation. What marks out Victoria is its use of electronic referenda to decide the eventual course of policy within the city. In effect the councillors are advocates who raise courses of action, steer policy and lead the debate, the voters actually decided what happens.
Although this sounds like a recipe for anarchy this has proved surprisingly effective for the city. For a citizen to vote on a certain subject they must have the vote, must live in the area the legislation will effect and 'be present' at the appropriate debate. 'Being present' has a number of different meanings but in general it will mean the citizen has received an electronic copy of the legislation and supporting research and read it. In addition they will have had to be present for at least 50% at the appropriate debate either in the flesh, on the net or watched a full net playback. This then qualifies them to cast a vote on the legislation.
In general only a tiny minority of the city's population take an active interest in the city's politics. Normally this would result in minority parties having a disproportionate influence, however the mainstream parties have strong campaigns to get their supporters out on key issues. In addition many non-partisan Victorians follow city politics, which is cult viewing for many, and this balances out the effects of the minority parties.
Lastly the West New Albion Assembly and Wellon Parliament can also pass legislation that effects the city. AM's and MP's are elected from the city to sit on these bodies and represent their constituents in the old fashioned way.
There is a three tier system of law enforcement in Victoria. The top tier is the Commonwealth wide Royal Wellon Constabulary, which has a strong presence in the city. The Royal Victoria Metropolitan Police are responsible for the bulk of the policing within the City of Victoria. The Victoria Policing Auxiliary are composed of a mix of corporate security forces, police reserve and neighbourhood watch all co-ordinated under the auspices of the RVMP and usually found in routine security tasks.
The Royal Wellon Constabulary has one of its major bases in Victoria. It is primarily interested in investigating financial fraud and irregularities that might have pan-Wellonese implications. However the RWC also has its leading Data Crimes team here, as well as Tactical and Special Branch personnel. The RWC rarely intervenes in cases of major crimes within the city as the RVMP is both highly competent and jealous of its prerogatives.
The Royal Victoria Metropolitan Police, or Victoria Met, is the city's main police force and has jurisdictional primacy in the area. The first police force the Victoria Colonial Police quickly gained a reputation for corruption and mismanagement, and they were disbanded as a result of an intervention by Catherine Wellon. The RVMP that replaced it was recruited to very stringent standards and was highly trained whilst the leadership were head-hunted from across the Commonwealth of Nations. The RVMP like to think it has maintained these high standards but has a reputation for humourless implementation of the law which can alienate the general population. In general the RVMP is somewhat smaller than the average Wellonese Met but this is compensated for by the integrated nature of operations with the VPA.
The RVMP is divided up into Divisions that align with the different districts of the city under the overall control of a central Force HQ. Each Division has its own Divisional Control Room with impressive command and control facilities which are linked into a Control Network that spans the whole city. The Divisions are mostly comprised of police assigned to particular stations across district which conduct routine operations such as crime investigations and monitoring VPA duties. In addition each division has a Divisional Tactical Support Unit, Divisional Air Support Unit and a Divisional Criminal Investigations Unit. DTSU are riot and firearms units that also can act as a reserve. DAU are equipped with a range of surveillance drones that can be called upon to monitor events or track down criminals. Lastly the DCIU is the division's detective wing which operates in plain clothes.
The Victoria Met has a number of specialist centralised units. These include the Force Special Branch Unit, Force Tactical Intervention Unit, Force Data Crimes Unit, Force Criminal Investigations Unit and Force Air Support Unit. The FSBU is responsible both for counter-subversion investigations alongside WI5 and also for investigating criminal activity within the RVMP's own ranks. The FTIU is the specialist firearms unit which is highly trained and responds to most emergencies within the city. FDCU is responsible for policing the city's electronic underground and hacking crime. FCIU supplements and sometimes replaces the DCIU in the investigation of major crimes. Lastly FSAU has more drones and manned tiltwing aircraft.
In the early years of the last century Victoria began to have serious problems with private security forces and local neighbourhood volunteers acting as vigilantes very much outside the law. In response legislation was passed making any uniformed security force or plain clothed force above 10 members illegal. To replace these the Victoria Policing Auxiliaries were formed, which was to be trained and overseen by the RVMP. Members would be recruited either from volunteers or from personnel recruited by individual corporations or bodies and paid from the same sources. In return the members would only have a limited 'beat' - neighbourhood watchers would patrol a number of streets, corporate VPA a particular building etc but all would be liable to help each other out in an emergency.
VPA all wear the same uniform, similar in cut but in different colours to the RVMP and are officially tasked through their particular Divisional Control Room, although many carry two or more communications systems. They also have the same powers of arrest as the RVMP but in general the VPA have greatly inferior skills at gathering evidence so are much less likely to secure a conviction. VPA are generally not well regarded by either the general public or the RVMP but provide low level law enforcement coverage held to a specific standard in many parts of the city. VPA usually have dual loyalties, more to their employers in particular than law enforcement in general but the RVMP usually has enough loyalty to ensure a steady stream of whistle-blowers. Although the VPA covers most general security patrols and gate guard duties corporate security still exists, although usually in plain clothes and concealed within the bureaucracy of the company.
By far the greatest crime problem in Victoria is that of petty crime caused generally by young people. This range includes vandalism, mugging, burglary and joy-riding however inter-gang violence, sometimes linked to football teams, can also arise. Gangs proliferate in Victoria but are usually short-lived as the membership grows up, or sometimes is jailed. These gangs are usually neighbourhood based although some have their basis in ethnicity or religion. The most long lived gangs are those related to football teams.
Victoria is well known for its large Japanese-Amaterasujin population. In fact when these immigrants came to the city their organised crime groups also followed them. The hybrid Victorian Yakuza, known to the RVMP as the Vakuza, are amongst the most important organised crime groups in the city. Originally preying solely on the Japanese population the organisation branched out into the rest of the city in the 30's and now the majority of members are of non-Japanese ancestry. The Vakuza is known to be well disciplined, hard to infiltrate and very wealthy. Whilst concentrating on white collar crimes as well as protection rackets it has a low profile compared to other groups but can be very ruthless in protecting its home ground.
Also present in Victoria are Point Sterling based Triads and Clans and several Cam Valley Firms. The Triads are generally confined to white collar crime and drugs whereas the Clans and Firms have been flamboyantly trying to carve out a niche. By and large they've not proved very successful partly due to an intensive surveillance and intelligence effort which has been occasionally aided by anonymous tip-offs from the Vakuza.
The city is perhaps most well known for its electronic criminals. These can range from individual hackers to small groups to wider collectives to the cutting edge hacker teams. Many of the people dubbed hackers are simple enthusiasts whereas others are highly efficient criminals utilising Victoria's position as a highly connected city to make a financial killing. The most well known are the Amaterasu based Kinuryugumi who have a strong presence with the Japanese community and the local Kat's Paws. These are routinely challenged by up-and-coming groups but share a mutual respect and will support each other if pressed. Both recruit covertly and members have been discovered in very strange places as a recent purge of the RWC's Data Crimes Branch revealed.
The military has a strong presence in Victoria. The Royal Wellon Navy in particular is strongly represented in the city with a major base in Port Alexandra, which is home to both Western Fleet, its air squadrons and SAR assets. Port Alexandra has many facilities including an airbase and ground forces training area as well as the HQ of the Submarine Service. 7 Commando Brigade and Royal Wellon Marines' depot is also located here alongside its amphibious shipping utilised by the brigade. There is strong recruitment into both bodies from the city.
In addition to 7 Commando Brigade there is large Wellon Army presence in the area based mainly in Roberts Barracks at Addington in Darwin just inside the Ring. This large complex plays host to 4 Western Division and the HQ's of 1 and 8 Western Brigades. Further to the south-west at Narvik Garrison are the heavy combat forces of 12th Armoured Division. In the city the locally raised Royal Victoria Rifles are the most prominent formation, with their plush RHQ and museum in the heart of Albert District. Similarly the RWM have their museum in the Old Docks in the Peel District in their old HQ building vacated when they moved to Port Alexandra. Several battalions of the Royal Westerns are also recruited from here.
The Royal Wellon Aerospace Force has a lower profile, with some maritime and search and rescue assets based at RWAF Alexandra, an airbase shared with the RWN, in Port Alexandra.
Victoria is relatively well served for airports with two main facilities, Victoria City Airport in Canning and Victorian International in Alexandra. In general large international and inter-Wellon flights go out of the latter, and regional and business flights from the former. Victoria International Airport is large enough to take spaceplanes and other interface craft although it does so relatively infrequently. Some governmental or high security flights use RWAF Alexandra.
The Great North Albion Line is the maglev service run by Wellon Rail in the area. GNAL is a dedicated inter-city link which links the North Albion Plain and the rest of Wellon with a fast, efficient service. Working alongside the GNAL is Wellon Rails' South North Albion Plain train service, known naturally (if occasionally inaccurately) as SNAP!, which ties in Victoria with the surrounding area in a conventional rail network.
Alexandra and the Old Docks have fairly high volume capacity docks. Alexandra in particular mostly handles cargo shipping from around the world in addition to the military traffic. Trans-oceanic traffic abroad or out to the coastal islands embarks and disembarks from the Old Docks. In addition St Vincent Bay is always busy with pleasure craft and yachts, there are even a number of replica tall ships that call in from time to time.
Victoria works on a two system mode of local transportation. The districts are linked with a fast transit Underground system that has several stations in each district and allows fast movement across the city. Each of the Underground stations, as well as rail stations, act as a hub for a local tram network that delivers people to the exact area they require. On the streets the trams have priority through the Traffic Control Network and for those using their cars in the city it can prove a frustrating experience. The image of Victoria's trams is a strong one reflected in the city's promotional material and tourist brochures.
As mentioned above Victoria is not a city particularly friendly to cars, however car ownership is at higher levels that in similar cities like New Camelot or Livingstone but not as high as New Birmingham. Use of cars is most common in the areas closest to the Ring.
As a city Victoria has very few natural resources. It relies almost exclusively on imports to maintain itself.
The city is powered predominantly on Wellon's Solar Power System for its energy requirements. When the city was first established a rectenna farm was built on the St George Plain in what became the Bell District. Today most of the power is beamed down to floating farm complexes anchored around 50km off shore or into rectenna farms based in Hamoazeshire. Many building complexes supplement this power by use of solar panels.
Victoria was started with the intention of becoming a primarily service economy to compliment the planned industrial centre of New Birmingham. Over the years though the city's light industry has expanded greatly, especially in the Bell District. Most important economically is the Black Arrow complex which employs some 5000 Victorians in high skill, high pay jobs. The district has several manpower intensive alloy foundries, but in general most operations are small high tech enterprises that rely on technology rather than large work-forces.
Victoria is the commercial capital of Wellon and is home to many of the major financial institutions of the nation. The main reason for this is the city's traditionally business friendly policies which stem back from the foundation. This has led to many companies being registered in here, although there are many other places on Tirane with cheaper rates none offer the sorts of facilities Victoria does. Indeed many foreign corporations have offices here to take advantage of these regulations.
Foremost among Victoria's institutions is the Wellon Stock Exchange located in Albert. A vast array of Wellonese and other shares are traded here, and although it doesn't have the volume of trading of the Mirambeau Borse it is regarded as one of the most stable and routinely profitable on Tirane. In addition to company shares the WSE trades in materials and bonds.
The are many banks based in Victoria, the most prestigious is the Bank of New Albion, Wellon's central bank and holder of the nation's reserve which is based in the old Corn Exchange building in Albert. The North Albion Bank is a both a prestigious financial presence and the most popular bank in the region with branches in every high street. The North Albion Bank also prints most of the region's currency, as do the Royal Bank of New Scotland, Bank of New Camelot and the Southern Bank of New Albion in their regions. Lastly the Niyazawa International Bank is just one of several overseas financial institutions resident in the city.
The city is also home to many legal and accountancy firms. In fact the image of the avaricious, shark-like Victorian lawyer is a common stereotype in most Wellonese drama.
As a heavily urbanised city Victoria produces little in the way of agricultural products and relies overwhelmingly on food imports from across Wellon. The only exception is in fishing where the city hosts a relatively large fishing fleet mostly based out of Alexandra although some specialist fishing vessels work out of the Old Docks and fresh produce for sale and for the city's restaurants are landed here daily.
Education and science are very important to Victoria and provide a substantial income to the city. In addition to the usual array of schools and colleges common to a city of the size there are a number of prestigious universities in the city that attract students from across Wellon. The city also has a number of dedicated science parks and gives substantial tax breaks to firms that invest heavily in R&D.
The main further education establishments are the University of Victoria, the Catherine Wellon University and the Victoria Technical University. The UV is the most prestigious of these and is highly regarded academically, covering the complete range of subjects and disciplines. CWU is what Americans would know as a 'liberal arts college' concentrating on language, literature and history. Victoria Tech is the most practical of these bodies specialising in engineering, computing and vocationally orientated courses. The North Albion University of Tirane is a smaller, specialised institution which studies the nature of Tirane and its people and is a hotbed of Tiranista radicalism. There are a vast array of other further education colleges in Victoria, many of which are affiliated to one of the large universities.
Thanks to the Gelb Plague the city has long cultivated an interest in bio-sciences, indeed from the original team of scientists that tackled the plague has evolved the Darwin Institute. The institute is a centre of excellence in studying the interaction of Terran and Tiranean biology and developing biotech products from this. The institute retains its base in the city but its activities go much further afield, and linked with the FPK members of the institute have begun working off-world. The institute's activities can sometimes be controversial and protests outside its gates are not uncommon.
The Black Library and its associated Trust also has an important place in the academic life of the city.
One of the most notable aspects of the foundation of Victoria was the inclusion of massively redundant high speed data links alongside water and power links across the city. Consequently access to data has been regarded almost as a right by every generation of Victorians since then. Costs are very low with a nominal flat rate fee for a hardwired connection and some of the lowest costs anywhere in Tirane for wireless links. The result is that Victorians use their Data Net at a higher level than the rest of Wellon and from an earlier age. Victoria truly is a wired city.
Victoria is a city where classical high culture is strongly represented. Theatre, live or net-based, proliferates with the North Albion Shakespeare Company being a the pinnacle of a large number of companies. The Tiranean Theatre of Victoria is another well regarded group that concentrates on locally produced work such as plays by Alan Addison ad others. The Royal Victorian Opera, North Albion Ballet and Albion Symphonic Orchestra share the modern facilities of Grant House in Albert.
Major media companies in the city include the Wellon Broadcasting Corporation, the North Albion Broadcasting Corporation and the Albion/Sunrise Media Group. The last controls the Victorian and the Victoria Business Daily both of which are major newsheets. There are several independent media organisations which contribute strongly to the cultural life of the city as well as a smaller number of dedicated pirate broadcasters. The pirates specialise in bootlegging copyright media and providing it through the Data Net to their customers. Naturally the RVMP is very interested in their activities and has linked the Kinuryugumi to some of these crimes. Given the city's Data Net links virtually any broadcast any where on Tirane can be accessed for a price.
The city has a vast array of sporting teams covering just about every sport played on the planet. The city has two major football teams Victoria City and Victoria Canning. City are renowned for their stylish passing game, employment of highly paid foreign players and inability to win anything but look good while doing it. Victoria Canning yo-yo between the WPL's 1st and 2nd Divisions playing straightforward, physical football. Their highlight was winning the Wellon Cup in 2295. The city plays quite good rugby, influenced by hard-nosed Narvicker players and coaches from Cutter's Spur with the main teams being the Jesters and Darwin RFC.
Gambling is popular especially on horse racing held with daily races at the Dorfields track. The autumnal Princess Margaret 5000 Sovereign race being one of the Grand Prix events of the calendar. Motor sport is also popular and the street circuit run through the Bell District is one of the best attended of the Formula Wellon circuit, although the circuit has been unable to prise the Wellon leg of the Formula Tirane circuit from New Birmingham. Sailing and watersports are strong in this coastal city and it has produced several of the nation's most famous sailors. Lastly since being encouraged by Catherine Wellon after to the foundation of the city competition shooting remains a major pastime in Victoria.
From even before the first stone was laid Victoria was always a city closely associated with the Data Net and virtual representations. Indeed the virtual, full immersive simulation of the city was a key tool in recruiting colonists. This simulation, known as the First City, was copied and brought to Victoria and many accessed it through the net. Many companies used the simulation as a 'front end' for commercial efforts, a shop in real life would have the same location in the simulation and goods could be bought from it. Using the same technologies other versions of the city were developed, some for historical purposes, others as games and yet more for political ends. Some of these simulations would have different physical rules than reality.
These simulations have been extremely popular in the city with most people accessing them from the comfort of their own homes. More advanced technology allowed access on the move, enabling people to move between reality and the array of virtual alternate cities. Sometimes this would cause accidents as people moved across the city whilst accessing an alternate that diverged from the real city. Safeguards were built in but these can be bypassed by anyone with sufficient knowledge. This is normally the domain of certain games, for example the City of the Brotherhood is a complex game involving a realistic city alternate licensed from the City but with game elements involving a conspiracy of vampire like creatures trying to take over the city. As a result after nightfall it is possible to see many jumpy young people on the streets accessing the game through their glasses and decked out in crucifixes. Many bodies in the city are attempting to clamp down on this game and many others like it.
There are many other more mundane uses for the alternate cities and these have kept the system alive. This sort of immersive simulation is more popular here than virtually anywhere else on Wellon.
Dame Tamsin Taylor, Lord Mayor of Victoria
Tam Taylor is the current Lord Mayor of the city. Born and raised in Gladstone District she is a fourth generation Victorian of English descent. A social conservative, mild Tiranista and member of the Liberal Democrat party, this is her second stint as Lord Mayor. Her position is supported by a LDP led coalition in the City Council, however Dame Tam has exceptional connections across the Victorian elite including the confidence of the Earl of Narvik.
A tall, middle aged brunette woman she is married with two grown children, neither of whom have any interest in politics. She is dedicated to her city, having no interest in getting into politics elsewhere in the country. Her policies emphasise strong links with business and a freewheeling economic model combined with strong law enforcement proceedures. She is respected, but not loved, across the city.
Sir Alan Ryoka, Commissioner of the RVMP
Sir Alan is the city's chief policeman. He is first generation Wellonese-Amaterasujin, born in Victoria but has help policing posts across Wellon with the RWC before being head-hunted for the RVMP. He was raised in a police family, his mother being in the police in Amaterasu before getting a job in the Poseidon Group's VPA. Ryoka was a high achiever in school and college and joined the RWC, where he was assigned to Point Sterling. Afterwards he was streamed into the undercover branch back in Victoria infiltrating the Vakuza underworld but in his later career he looked after serious crimes and administration.
Shortly after accepting the post of Deputy Commissioner of the RVMP he was knighted into the Order of Wellon. He is unmarried and has no children, he is seen as being completely devoted to his job alone. Sir Alan brooks no descent and has been ruthless in prosecuting RVMP and VPA constables suspected of being corrupt. Some believe Sir Alan has gone too far in his identification with himself as being the personification of the law in the city. He is a tall distinguished looking Eurasian with greying hair, he has only three fingers on his left hand a legacy of his days investigating the Vakuza.
Kate Lessing, Kat's Paws
Kate Lessing is perhaps the closest person to being the leader of the Kat's Paws. She was born and raised on Peel District and proved a slow learner in traditional education. However she quickly proved an computer prodigy and fell in with the city's electronic underworld. At the age of 16 she was arrested and charged with data crimes and sent to Carrick prison. At the end of her sentence she appeared to be a reformed character and enlisted in the Wellon Army's WEWS Corps becoming highly trained in electronic warfare and security countermeasures. Since the end of her service she has been employed by the Black Library Trust as librarian.
Unknown to her bosses away from her work she has become a key member of the hacker group the Kat's Paws, although she always works through cut-outs. A young woman of mousy appearance she appears an unlikely candidate as a hacker. In fact she is highly trained and exceptionally intelligent being a good manipulator of people and having a keen grasp of tactics. As a result she has always been several steps ahead of the police.