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Words: Melanie Burton
Photography: Mick Fox
Featured in the September 2014 issue

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Coastal resorts have benefited from an increase in visitors this summer, largely due to the soaring temperatures and constant sunshine. The north east Lincolnshire towns of Grimsby and Cleethorpes have enjoyed a renaissance year thanks to the surge in renewable energy and its knock-on effects.

Hull & Humber Chamber of Commerce Northern Lincolnshire manager, Anne Tate said renewables were the springboard for all sorts of activities in the area.

“The big thing for Grimsby remains renewables. We have seen a huge renaissance for the Port of Grimsby East with new lock gates and an £800,000 investment in enhanced pontoons, in order to service and maintain the wind farm operations.

“And we have recently seen the arrival of resources for the foundation of a second wind farm and that represents half of the current UK activity.”

With a £7.5m purpose-built environmental, logistics and learning hub planned by the Grimsby Institute and a £1.75m offshore wind training facility being developed, Grimsby looks set to be home to a Centre of Excellence for renewables and logistics training.

“The Humber is well on its way to becoming the energy capital of Europe and Grimsby’s role in that is increasingly significant. It is quite massive,” said Anne.

“As a Chamber we have also noticed that local businesses are finding business where previously none lay. There are new businesses with new jobs and these are good jobs.

“It is not only good for the town but it is good for the youngsters, because they are good jobs with good training and good opportunities. We are witnessing a true renaissance for the town.”

On top of that, Grimsby’s market is running at full capacity with a full representation of stalls.

“It holds up to ninety stalls, they are all filled and it is a well attended market. Retail-wise there is still a lot of activity and we are seeing good footfall, which is reflected through the market.”

Freshney Place Shopping Centre is the main retail destination in Grimsby.Offering more than 100 shops, cafes and restaurants, including a range of High Street brands and small independent boutiques, Freshney Place helps Grimsby attract a regular comparison goods shopping population from its catchment area of 175,173; a catchment penetration of 11.73 per cent.

Centre director, Amanda Austin said: “2014 has been a successful year thus far, focusing on key charitable initiatives, support for the local community and free events, which we offer each year for our shoppers and families visiting the centre.”

The town is also getting ready to host the World Seafood Congress in 2015, an event that usually takes place in Canada. It is being launched at the Humber Seafood Summit being held later this month.

“It all helps to put Grimsby on the map. We really think this is massive for the town,” said Anne.

There are also various projects either planned or underway across the borough, including the development of Cartergate, regeneration of Freeman Street and leisure development in Grimsby along with two hotel developments.

The go-ahead for a brand new multi-million pound office and retail development in the Cartergate area of Grimsby was given the council’s backing earlier this year. It is set to become the new headquarters of the area’s largest law firm, Wilkin Chapman Grange LLP, and will help secure the company’s future in the town.

About 24,000 square feet of office and complementary ground-floor retail space will be created by the development. Remaining land at Cartergate will be marketed for a quality hotel scheme or a suitable alternative development.

A multi-million pound landmark project to boost Grimsby’s town centre was also revealed by North East Lincolnshire Council in March when council-owned land at Riverhead Square was transferred to F&C REIT, the owners of Freshney Place shopping centre.

It gives Freshney Place the opportunity to kickstart plans for an exciting new development which will include a new leisure block featuring a multiplex cinema and a variety of food and beverage facilities, adding to the customer experience in the town.

Construction of a new eighty-bedroom Holiday Inn Express hotel is currently underway in Wellowgate, Grimsby. The hotel will be centrally located in the town near the main railway station and is due to open its doors towards the end of 2015. The development will be operated under a franchise agreement with Brayford Hotels and up to forty new jobs could be created.

In addition, one of the UK’s largest hotel chains, Premier Inn, is currently building a sixty-bedroom hotel and Brewers Fayre restaurant at Meridian Point, Cleethorpes.

Whitbread, Premier Inn’s parent company, and its development partner Maltgrade Limited are investing £8m in the new hotel and family restaurant which will create seventy new jobs when it opens later this year.

Grimsby and Cleethorpes also have a good supply of long established firms which offer that special one-to-one service that is often lacking these days.

Lees of Grimsby (Furnishers) Ltd is one such business,  established in 1901 when Arthur Lee set up shop in modest premises in Victoria Street, offering shoppers a selection of carpets, linoleum, beds and bedsteads.

Now the fourth generation of the Lee family is in charge of the company. Managing director, Graham Lee said: “We always aim to offer people fresh products and ideas. We carried out a major refurbishment on our ground floor two years ago and the first floor was revamped last year.”

Another long-established shop in Grimsby is George Hewitt & Son, Jewellers in Victoria Street. Jewellers since 1871, the business offers the finest selection of exclusive designer branded jewellery and fine quality diamond rings. It is also the official Rolex retailer for Lincolnshire and has been selling Rolex watches for more than ninety years.

Now Hewitt’s is preparing for the launch of its new watch brand, having been chosen as Lincolnshire’s official retailer for Tudor. 

Another first for Grimsby is its selection as the preferred site for the UK’s first solar park. The owners of the former Macaulay Lane landfill site are planning to turn the site into a solar energy park with 20,000 solar panels and the power to supply nearly 1,500 homes a year.

Planning permission is already in place for 250 new homes on the western side of the site and a large country park extending more than seventeen acres is also earmarked for the former tip site. The remediation work to cap the tip with 300,000 tonnes of soil is due to be completed next month (October).

Now site owner Millennium Park (Grimsby) hopes to transform the site into a source of green energy with support from property consultant Carter Jonas’s energy and planning teams.

The site, in the heart of the town, has the potential to generate five megawatts of renewable energy per year – enough to power 1,426 homes.The scheme could be developed and commissioned by spring next year. Oxford, Derby and Rochdale have similar schemes but are on the edge of town or on industrial estates.

Neighbouring Cleethorpes is also benefiting from the upsurge in the area, with major events being held in the town every month – from the air show which attracted 250,000 people to the resort, to a 1940s weekend and a Help for Heroes weekend.

“Visitors are flocking to this traditional seaside town and enjoying a family day out. It has seen something of an increase on visitor numbers – and sunshine helps,” said Anne.

“Interestingly, there is a huge amount of economic activity in the area but it doesn’t seem to have been recognised by the rail authorities. We have been faced with cuts and we are fighting to keep the direct rail link with Manchester, while still campaigning for a rail line to London.”

CLEETHORPES ATTRACTIONS
Cleethorpes is a traditional seaside resort but it has much to offer in the way of attractions for the family to enjoy, whether it be theme park fun or time in the great outdoors.

It has changed greatly over the last few years and now offers entertainment, interesting attractions and events all year round.

Take Cleethorpes Discovery Centre for instance. You can explore the latest art exhibition or discover what’s happening out at sea from the ABP observatory. There is a sandpit and paddling pool, a cafe serving freshly made cakes and homemade meals and a children’s play area.

The Discovery Centre attracts 150,000 visitors a year and is regarded by North East Lincolnshire Council as the jewel in the crown of attractions in the resort. But there are lots of changes happening.

Permanent and temporary exhibitions and displays about the estuary and its wildlife are being developed,  and enhanced education and research facilities are being created.

The lake has been a key feature of the resort since the early 1930s, and the Discovery Centre was built on the water’s edge more than twenty years ago.

There are displays in the exhibition areas about North East Lincolnshire, its wildlife and the estuary. The observation area has been refitted with sponsorship from ABP, which has interpretation boards about the estuary and its ports, with a real-time interactive display of the shipping using the estuary and North Sea. There is also information about the birds and wildlife that call the estuary home.

Guided walks around the boating lake area are available for schools – looking at the habitats and some of the wildlife living there. An education pack is being developed to help make the visit to the Discovery Centre not just an out-of-school experience, but also one that enters the classroom.

Pleasure Island Family Theme park is another attraction that drives footfall, with 130,000 visitors each year. The theme park boasts rides and attractions for all the family, from the mildest roundabouts to the wildest white-knuckle thrillers.

It opened its gate for the first time on 27th May, 1993 and was originally part of the Flamingo Land group, purchased by the then owner Robert Gibb. It is now independently owned by his daughter Melanie Wood and has been for the last four years.

The newest development at the park is the farm and there are plans for a new all-singing, all-dancing go kart track for next season. It should accommodate six cars.

‘Furry Friends Farm’ is a five-acre development which is home to farmyard favourites, including pygmy goats and their kids, Shetland ponies with attitude and lambs which visitors can bottle feed. There’s also a tractor ride for the younger children. New additions for 2014 include alpacas, emus, ducks and a very loud donkey. 

“Pleasure Island employs up to 200 people in the high season, so is one of the biggest employers in the area,” said Melanie.

“Visitors to the park use the local hotels, B&Bs and guesthouses and of course the many caravan and campsites in the area, so the park’s importance to the local economy cannot be underestimated.”

FRESHNEY PLACE
Freshney Place Shopping Centre remains the main retail destination in Grimsby and helps secure the town’s place as 11th best shopping destination in Yorkshire and the Humber (out of 372).

Offering more than 100 shops, cafes and restaurants including a range of High Street brands and small independent boutiques, the centre features a range of activities aimed at increasing footfall and dwell time in the centre, whilst also supporting retailers in their drive for sales.

It stages a number of events and campaigns throughout the year to attract and entertain shoppers and families, along with supporting local charity and community projects.

Community initiatives and ‘pop-up’ shops have included workshops for children with learning difficulties, after which they can sell their items in a shop within the centre to raise money.

The centre’s dedicated charity for the year 2014/2015 is Grimsby Food Kitchen, a local charity very much in need of support to fund its project and help people in need.

A number of fundraising initiatives have run throughout the year, including staff taking part in a 400 mile bike ride challenge to raise money for Grimsby Food Kitchen.

Freshney Place has had some successful events to date, including the free monthly Snapper Jaxx children’s club which runs on the first Sunday of every month – and won a Purple Apple Marketing Award in May this year for its success – along with the launch of the Brand Campaign magazine, the ultimate ‘One Great Day’ initiative and Listen Up.

G HEWITT & SON
G Hewitt & Son is very privileged to have been chosen as the Tudor Official Retailer for Lincolnshire.

Hans Wildorf, who created Rolex, wanted a watch that Rolex agents could sell at a more modest price than their Rolex watches, and yet one that would attain the standards of dependability for which Rolex is famous.

He decided to form a separate company with the object of making and marketing this new watch.

The Tudor watch company was created in 1946 and the launch of the Tudor Oyster model was in 1947. Visit G Hewitt & Son your local Tudor Retailer as the marque re-launches in the UK on 19th September offering distinct watch collections based on Tudor’s heritage, its technical prowess and its acute sense of style.

Tudor have some significant collaborations with motorsport including the FIA World Endurance Championships (WEC).

Another Tudor collaboration is with the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) as an entitled partner of what now will be known as the TUDOR United Sports Car Championships. Perhaps the most evident partnership is between Tudor and Ducati who share a passion for performance.

Tudor and Ducati invite you to participate in the exclusive and thrilling brand experience that will bind their futures.

WALTHAM PLUMBING SUPPLIES LTD
Established for thirty-five years in the pretty village of Waltham near Grimsby, Waltham Plumbing Supplies Ltd is a small family run firm offering that all important, one-to-one service.

Managing director Alison Staves followed in her father’s footsteps when she went to work for him after leaving school, and has been in the business ever since. She is helped by her husband Russ and her brother Kevin.

Waltham Plumbing Supplies takes great pride in its friendly, personal service as well as being able to offer a fantastic range from traditional to contemporary styles.

As stockists and distributors of cast iron roll-top baths, continental and British sanitary ware, showers, fireclay sinks and brassware there is plenty of choice to suit all tastes and budgets. Customers can pick from a large range of both cast iron and acrylic baths in many different styles, colours and sizes. For those looking for a particular type of specialist bath, WPS are sure you will find something to suit including whirlpool baths or Jacuzzis.

If customers are able to supply their room measurements and an idea of the products they prefer, WPS can create a scale drawing and a 3-D illustration using a Computer Assisted Design package to really help you realise the bathroom of your dreams.

To view examples of WPS’s exceptional range you can go online at www.walthamplumbing.co.uk or visit their showroom at The Airfield, Cheapside, Waltham DN37 0HZ Tel: 01472 824092

HOPS TRAVEL
Discover a different view of the world from the river. See some of the world’s most inspiring places, travel through stunning scenery, magnificent mountains, lush vineyards, grand cities and rural towns in comfort and style. The ultimate relaxed touring holiday.
Europe offers a perfect blend of ancient and modern. The Danube begins in Hungary’s vibrant capital Budapest, travels through picturesque valleys including UNESCO World Heritage sites into Austria and the elegance of Vienna, then onto the medieval towns of Germany. The Rhine takes you on a journey of fairytales castles, grand cathedrals and historic sites with spectacular scenery. Then the Douro gives you a journey into northern Portugal, to enjoy the vineyards and timeless villages, with the port and tawny wines to sample.

Further afield you have wonderful rivers like the magnificent Mekong which will be a journey of a lifetime taking you from Vietnam to Cambodia, exploring the floating markets, paddy fields and the ancient temple of Angkor Wat. You can combine the Yangtze and three gorges with the stunning cities of Beijing and Shanghai.  Not forgetting The Russian rivers with the gilded palaces of the Royal retreats, to bustling Moscow’s Red Square no longer shrouded in mystery. Now is the time to book one of these wonderful journeys with your Local River Cruise expert Helen, at Hops Travel.

CLEETHORPES COAST LIGHT RAILWAY
No seaside resort would be complete without its coastal railway and Cleethorpes can boast one that has been running since 1948.

Obviously, it has been regauged since the early days, but the Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway is as popular as ever and has won many top attraction awards.

It has had numerous owners over the years and the latest, John Kerr and Peter Bryant, took it over in May. The railway had been on the market since 2007 so the young duo bit the bullet to turn their hobby into a business.

“It is a traditional seaside railway and was very small to start with but has grown over the years and is still running today. It is doing very well which all helps the local economy,” said Peter.

The railway runs along the coast from the Leisure Centre through the original terminal at Lakeside, and goes up to Humberston.

“It is a two-mile long route and offers lovely views for visitors as well as providing transport into town for holidaymakers on the caravan sites,” said John.

The pair are no strangers to miniature railways, having been big fans since an early age. In fact John’s family ran a miniature railway in Arbroath, Scotland and when his father died it passed to him – at the age of ten.

“We are both big enthusiasts and it runs in my blood. We previously ran a miniature railway engineering firm in Sheffield. We were looking for something to give us cash back in the summer months but owning a railway gives us the chance to be involved in the railway again,” said John.

Previous owner Chris Shaw had been at the helm of the railway for around twenty-five years. It was bought on a year’s lease in 1990 for just £5,000 and has won many awards as a top tourist attraction since.

“It is doing all right and having a hotel built across the road bodes well for the future and for us. We have plans that might help with the off-peak season because we would like it to be a bit busier through the winter months,” said John.

Along the route of the railway is what is thought to be the world’s smallest pub and the new owners are hoping at some point in the future to be able to buy that too.

The Signal Box Inn, still owned by Chris Shaw, measures 8ft x 8ft squared and is literally a converted signal box.

“It was turned into a pub a few years ago and it does very well. It was a good idea and we are hoping to take on that as well in the future,” added John.

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