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Words: Glynis Fox
Photography: Mick Fox
Featured in the January 2015 issue

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Distinctively different, the North Lincolnshire market town of Brigg may have a traditional air about it, but that doesn’t mean it is standing still.

Far from it, because 2015 promises to bring even more changes on the shopping and social front, as new businesses move in, vacant premises are snapped up and efforts are made to progress a £500,000 plan to breathe new life into an undeveloped part of the town. These will build on changes that have already taken place over the past six months. This ongoing trend means this is a destination which is always worth checking out.

Brigg also has a multitude of organisations which continue to inject extra buzz into the area. The town’s heritage centre is also aiming to attract more friends and people are eager to see more use being made of Brigg’s star attraction, the River Ancholme.

Work is also underway on the Brigg Town Neighbourhood Plan, which will ultimately provide a blueprint for its future direction and also an aid when it comes to bidding for funding for projects.

As we went to press, there was excitement about a £500,000 proposal which would have the power to revitalise part of the town centre and pave the way for extra shops.

A deal has been agreed in respect of lands behind the Brigg & District Servicemen’s Club, in Coney Court, for North Lincolnshire Council to buy it from the club. The plan is to build a number of small shop units on the site and to ultimately rent these out.

This proposal would be complemented by the redevelopment of the nearby old market building, creating space for up to five new units.

The idea is to provide opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs, allowing them to set up their own businesses in the town and to relaunch Coney Court as a shopping area. College Yard is a similar example.

Councillor Rob Waltham said the development could open the door to new jobs. It is also part of an ambitious drive to encourage more people to discover how much Brigg has to offer.

“Brigg’s Courtyards are a major strength of the town. These new units will be ideal for someone looking to start their own business and will boost local employment opportunities,” said Coun Waltham.

Brigg Mayor, Councillor Edward Arnott believes Brigg is in a good position to make significant progress in 2015.

“Brigg is definitely well placed with its mix of individual and special retail places. It has a lovely mix of shopping, which offers people a different experience. It does not have your typical High Street.

“Independent shops and suppliers are very important. They provide local jobs and they are good for the economy. Newer arrivals include an Italian café and a bespoke corsetry business,” he said.

“But we have also got some bigger names coming in. For instance, it has been reported that B&M is moving into the town’s former Lidl store in Springs Way and the old Poundstretcher unit is set to become a Costa – which is a good sign.”

Within the last few months, The Nelthorpe Arms has been revamped and reopened and J D Wetherspoon is busy refurbishing the former White Horse pub. The venue is expected to reopen in late January.

Councillor Arnott said that, despite its size, Brigg has a wealth of lively organisations, including everything from uniformed groups, such as the Scouts, Brownies and Rainbows, to the Ancholme Rowing Club, Brigg & District Flower Society and Brigg & District Lions Club. Some are helping to put the town on the map nationally.

“The 2222 Squadron Brigg ATC (Air Training Corps) recently picked up a couple of great accolades. They beat off the rest of the UK to win the Marshall Trophy for the most improved squadron and they won the Outstanding Contribution to a Learning Community prize in North Lincolnshire Council’s Community Champions Awards.

The town is continuing to put the polish on the Brigg Neighbourhood Plan.

“We completed an initial public consultation. I have spoken to a number of people in the town and we have also had a roadshow. We have been pulling together people’s responses to create draft policies for further consultation,” said Coun Arnott.

“A final written report will be taken to a referendum at the end of 2015. Some of the things that have jumped out at us as a result of the initial consultation, is that people want to see the River Ancholme utilised more. They want to see more made of the river – which is already used by canoeing and quadrathlon fans, and fisherman John France (who is a dab hand at catching a pike).

“We are working with North Lincolnshire Council because we want to see more made of the river and improvements to the riverside path,” said Coun Arnott.

He added that that the consultation process has also led to traffic issues being raised, including a problem on Grammar School Road – which leads to two senior schools and which attracts a lot of parents parking to drop off and collect children.

“Again, North Lincolnshire Council, in conjunction with ourselves, is working to alleviate that, ideally by way of another back entrance to the Vale of Ancholme School, but ultimately we hope there will be a relief road.”

On the public transport front, the town council continues to work with Friends of the Brigg and Lincoln Line to improve rail services to and from the area.

JOIN BRIGG HERITAGE CENTRE
If you haven’t yet visited Brigg Heritage Centre, you are missing a treat.

But there’s still time to catch its first exhibition – Lest We Forget – which remembers the men of Brigg commemorated on the town’s war memorial and gives today’s generation the chance to learn more about the lives of those heroes from 100 years ago.

If you like what you see at the centre, which is based in The Angel complex in the town, there is also an opportunity to support its work by joining the recently launched Friends of Brigg Heritage Centre scheme.

Centre manager, Judy Lundgren said: “The Heritage Centre is open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, between 1am and 2pm, and on Saturdays between 10am and 3pm. People can still see the Lest We Forget exhibition until 31st January 2015.

“It is amazing that this exhibition has been achieved at all. Failing to secure a funding bid for the exhibition, the Heritage Centre refused to be beaten and, with dogged determination to deliver on its promises to both the Sir John Nelthorpe School (whose pupils have contributed pieces of work) and the Heritage Open Day Scheme, we battled on against the odds. The results are quite remarkable.”

The Ancholme Valley Heritage Trust took over the management of the Brigg Heritage Centre from North Lincolnshire Council earlier in 2014, and it is keen to encourage more people to discover the secrets of Brigg’s past.

“Our best exhibit is a Bronze Age Raft. It dates from about 800BC. It has been stored and preserved in a thick coat of wax at Greenwich Maritime Museum, but now it is the star of our collections,” said Judy.

Visitors to the centre will also discover lots of other artefacts on display. These draw on the town’s long history and reveal all sorts of interesting information about how local people lived their lives and ran their businesses.

This attraction can cater for schools and group visits and is able to provide hands-on workshops. It also has three rooms which are available for hire.

It costs anything from £3 to £100 a month (or £20 to £100 a year) to become a member of the Friends of Brigg Heritage Centre. The benefits of becoming a friend include a ten percent discount on the centre’s events, a preview of all its exhibitions, discounted rates on room hire and a quarterly emailed newletter.

For further information, please call (01724) 296771.

BRIGG BUSINESS PARTNERSHIP
Traders, ranging from cafe owners to butchers, accountants, homeware, fashion and furniture stores have joined the Brigg Business Partnership – to share experiences, swap tips and gain wider promotion for their products and services.

And, as 2015 gets underway they are planning to make an even bigger impact in the town, by putting on more events and also encouraging more business people to join them.

Partnership chairman, Malcolm Bailey said: “We have been working hard to put the community at the heart of the High Street, echoing back to the support won from the Mary Portas Scheme, by putting on events designed to make the town a more lively and inviting place.”

Key events involving the Partnership in 2014 included a fashion show, a pump blessing ceremony, the BIG Gig and Briggstock, which featured a main entertainments stage and four busking stations.

“We are keen to build on these events and to encourage more people to come and discover Brigg and have an enjoyable time. We are planning to have a meeting to decide on a programme of future events,” said Mr Bailey.

“Partnerships are important and we are also working closely with Brigg Town Council and North Lincolnshire Council, because there is strength in numbers and we want to offer added value, through working collaboratively.”

Mr Bailey said the Partnership focuses heavily on the independent business sector because Brigg has a high percentage of independent businesses. By working together they are able to compete.

Brigg’s private business sector includes a mix of long-standing favourites, such as Grandad’s Shed and the Loft Restaurant and Wallheads outfitters and town and countrywear shop, which has been part of Brigg’s retail scene for 117 years.

Paul Keane is the owner of Grandad’s Shed and the upstairs Loft Restaurant: “We are looking forward to refurbishing The Loft in January. Our revamp is designed to give it a more contemporary look and feel and we are also splashing out on new kitchens.

“We have sixty-six covers and we will be continuing to offer Italian coffees, traditional afternoon tea and country-style lunches, using locally sourced ingredients.”

Grandad’s Shed is extremely popular with shoppers in search of quality furniture, including bespoke, handcrafted pieces in woods such as oak and pine. The business also offers upholstery services and sells home accessories.

“Our furniture business is doing very well and we are always busy, with plenty of interest in our bespoke side too,” added Paul.

Wallhead’s, which is believed to be the oldest established business in Brigg and which has remained in the same Wrawby Street location, is a well-known destination for shoppers searching for men’s and ladies’ countrywear for all occasions, and is a stockist of brands including Barbour and Schoffel.

On the pub front, it is understood that the licensee of the Nelthorpe Arms, Chris Saddington, is keen to encourage the town’s hostelries to get together and create a new Pubwatch Group. He believes the sharing of information would create a safer environment for drinkers.

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