Ambitious plans to level up town
Community spirit has always been strong in Brigg, especially so during the recent lockdowns, with business owners and residents responding with positivity, resilience and innovation. By Melanie Burton.
Businesses offered delivery and click and collect services, supported each other and helped the wider community. North Lincolnshire Council worked with residents of the town to help preserve its special character and ensure its many independent businesses were – and remain – fully supported.
“Over the past 16 months we have worked closely with the Brigg Town Business Partnership to support businesses through the pandemic with information about grants and benefits and later with guidance to help them reopen safely,” a council spokeswoman said.
“We are also actively encouraging people back into the town to take advantage of its high-quality facilities and enjoy its unique atmosphere.
“As part of our determination to build back better after Covid-19 we have recently submitted an ambitious £90m bid to the Government’s Levelling Up fund that would see a large investment in town centre regeneration, including Brigg.”
If successful the plan will focus on transport projects, town centre and high street enhancement and support for developing the cultural and heritage offer.
Councillor Rob Waltham, the leader of North Lincolnshire Council, said it complements other Government programmes in North Lincolnshire such as the Towns Fund and collectively they will make a huge impact on improving local infrastructure and regenerating towns for the future.
“The Government has recognised the need for further cash investments to be made across our communities and we will be working very closely with our local MPs to deliver these projects which will make generational change across the area,” he said.
NEW SUPPORT INITIATIVES
Life is slowly being breathed back into the town centre, as demonstrated by the opening of a new Business Support and Tourism Centre in the historic Buttercross building in the heart of Brigg, which is a major boost for North Lincolnshire’s visitor economy.
The former Tourist Information Centre now offers a dedicated space to support businesses, including selling and showcasing local products. It will also enable businesses to consult Growth Hub advisors and receive expert advice on areas including finance, publicity, business planning and funding.
The flexible facility will provide a base for the North Lincolnshire Tourism Partnership and the Events Network to operate from, serving as an important networking and workshop space for event organisers across the area.
Council Leader, Councillor Rob Waltham, said: “The Buttercross is a much-loved mainstay of the Brigg community and to see it take on a new lease of life is fantastic. This facility will become a real focal point for our visitor economy, providing a one-stop shop for both visitors and local businesses to access information and support.
“With restrictions lifting, we can look forward to the summer with excitement. We have some amazing attractions on our doorstep and now is the time to get out there and support them, our local retailers and restaurants, safely.”
The opening of the new Business Support Centre coincides with the Government backed launch of the ‘Welcome Back’ campaign across North Lincolnshire, encouraging people to visit their market towns, shop local and support businesses.
It also follows the transformation of another historic Brigg building earlier this year, the historic Angel building in the Market Place, which reopened as a community hub, part of North Lincolnshire Council’s £5m community investment programme.
This work has included creating a new open plan library entrance, installing a community kitchen and training room, private meeting, activity and community rooms, open access computers, a ‘magic table’ for those who are cognitively challenged (such as autism sufferers or people with dementia) and a new children’s library.
Staff offer information, advice and guidance on all aspects of council services including information on healthy lifestyles and support for jobseekers.
The Angel is also home to Brigg Town Council, which now has new rooms on the top floor, and Brigg Heritage Centre, which remains on the first floor.
The Courtyard Café and La Finca, North Lincolnshire’s only tapas restaurant, trade from the ground floor.
The Angel is a showcase building at the centre of Brigg, and this development will ensure its place at the heart of the community, encouraging more people into the town centre.
A former bank building in the Market Place next door to the Angel is also receiving a new lease of life. The Midland Bank building, which closed in 2017, is currently undergoing conversion into a cocktail bar called The Vault, which will be a welcome addition to the town’s already varied food and drink offer.
Brigg has a successful history with former bank buildings – the aptly-named The Bank hairdressers on Bigby Street operates from another lovely historic building, and the imposing former NatWest building is now the offices for local company Victor Finance.
Brigg has been a market town for at least 900 years and the council strongly supports its market traders, from the regular Thursday and Saturday markets to the award-winning Farmers’ Market on the fourth Saturday of every month.
There are also regular craft and antique fairs and an independent market for local indie traders.
Councillor Waltham added: “We are working closely with Andrew Percy, the MP for Brigg, on transformative plans to positively develop Brigg while still retaining the character of this special town.
“We want this to be a thriving space where we work with our local communities so they are able to improve their experience and enhance their quality of life. Residents are encouraged to come along and use these fantastic facilities now they are on their doorsteps.”
BRIGG RAIL CONNECTIONS
Another boost to the visitor economy would be if the vision of the town’s Independent Brigg Line Rail Group comes to fruition.
Formed in 2019 from part of the old Friends of the Brigg & Lincoln Line rail group, the IBLRG is hoping for a return to a six-days-a-week train service on the line through a Cleethorpes to Worksop shuttle service.
The group works with the Brigg Town Business Partnership to encourage new and existing customers to come to the town using the unique Saturday only train service that runs between Sheffield and Cleethorpes via Brigg.
Though it doesn’t receive any funding at all, through crowdfunding and even personal finance it has managed to promote this service in the past, increasing passenger numbers threefold prior to the Covid lockdowns.
Brigg station formed part of the Manchester, Sheffield & Lincolnshire Railway mainline (via Retford) when constructed in the 1840s.
The Brigg line survived when the boss of British railways Dr Beeching was swinging his axe in the 1960s and closing dozens of UK routes. But in the 1970s, British Railways opted to reduce the Brigg line to secondary status and it was downhill from then on, until passenger trains were cut back to Saturdays only.
Brigg is definitely one of the best places for independent shopping and visitors can also explore the River Ancholme and the rest of the Ancholme Valley by following the Ancholme Valley Way – a path which takes you from Brigg all the way to South Ferriby 10 miles away, where you can enjoy the riverbank’s wildlife and diverse landscape.
O’BRIEN’S OPTICIANS LAUNCHES LOW VISION SERVICE AND EYEWEAR STYLING CONSULTATIONS
O’Brien’s Opticians are offering a brand new Eyewear Styling Service at their practice in Brigg after recently training their team as professional eyewear stylists. This individually dedicated consultation service will help patients discover their perfect eyewear to suit both their optical and style needs.
The consultations are curated by Jane Palmer, Gemma Chelton, June Lockham and Karen Boulton.
The team has been trained to assess individual colour analysis, colour psychology, facial and features analysis, style personality and eyewear selection. This will enable all patients to feel assured they are being given an unparalleled consultation to find them their perfect eyewear. This service adds to the dispensing of ophthalmic lenses by leading manufacturers such as Carl Zeiss, Nikon, Seiko, Rodenstock, Essilor (Varilux, Transitions), Kodak, Hoya and many others.
Low vision service for the visually impaired
Optometrist Dr Janjua recently completed the College of Optometrists Professional Certificate in Glaucoma and also the Professional Certificate in Low Vision from Cardiff University. With the support of his staff he has launched a private Low Vision Service using the highest quality low vision aids from Germany.
Low vision is when your sight is impaired, making it difficult to carry out everyday tasks with ordinary lenses. This can be caused by various eye conditions such as glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Continued blepharitis and dry eye treatment
A comprehensive dry eye and blepharitis treatment and nutrition plan devised by Dr Janjua during his doctorate at Aston University in 2017 continues to be implemented by the staff at O’Brien’s Opticians who have now been trained in ocular hygiene. Products supplied are by market leaders and often preservative free.
O’Brien’s welcomes the registration of new patients. The practice is open from Monday to Friday 9am-5pm, and Saturday 9am-4pm. Telephone 01652 653595 or 01652 649024 to make an appointment for any of these services.
BRIGG BEDS DELIVERS ON DREAMS
Established in 2002, Brigg Beds in Princes Street is an independent family run business offering outstanding and caring customer service with proven expertise in matching personalised preferences and needs with exceptional craftsmanship in the best of bedroom furniture.
If you’re looking for both comfort and style, you’ll find a quality range of the latest designs in beds and mattresses (including traditional sprung, pocket sprung, memory foam, latex and gel), together with bedroom furniture such as divans, ottomans, headboards, as well as a selection of pillows, quilts and mattress protectors.
Visit the light and airy showroom in the former Old National School where the friendly, professional staff will welcome you and discuss your individual needs, helping you find the bed of your dreams to deliver the best night’s sleep.
Choose from a quality range of popular leading brands including Deluxe, Wheatcroft and Dreamland beds, as well as Mlily and Ice Cloud mattresses to suit all requirements.
If you suffer from back pain or discomfort, getting to sleep can be a nightmare, but a well designed quality mattress, such as memory foam, can make all the difference as it moulds to the contours of your body.
The helpful staff at Brigg Beds – which supplies many local care homes, hotels, bed and breakfasts, local authority services, as well as caravan and mobile home parks – have extensive knowledge of all the latest stock.
Brigg Beds also offers a hands-on personalised delivery service from start to finish, including reliable delivery times, assembling beds – “We are experts at hospital corners” – as well as taking away any packaging, within a 30-mile radius of Brigg, including Scunthorpe, Grimsby and Lincoln.
The showroom is open from Monday to Saturday, 9.30am-5pm.
For more information tel: 01652 651828 or find on Facebook: Brigg Beds
COLLECTIONS AND STYLING FROM KENNEDI
Established 14 years ago, Kennedi has recently relocated to the main high street in Brigg. The move has proven to be very successful with a rise in footfall due to the boutique’s idyllic, central location. People have really supported Kennedi and owner Aimee has seen an increase in visitors to Brigg itself lately. There have been well supported local craft markets and a continental feel and buzz outside the shop. Having the main car park behind the shop with free weekend parking is a great initiative too.
Kennedi stocks a great mix of brands in-store and online including Scotch & Soda, Tommy Hilfiger, Vilagallo, Fransa, French Connection, James Steward, Stehmann, Matt & Natt and their very own Kennedi bespoke label. Their collections are really focusing on sustainability too, which is so important right now.
Running alongside the boutique, Aimee also offers her own personal styling services, having recently completed her diploma with the renowned London College of Style.
“I am really enjoying this side of my business as many ladies are time poor these days and have enjoyed a one-to-one session out of hours in the boutique. It is so uplifting to orchestrate a capsule collection for my clients, taking on board their unique body shape and lifestyle demands,” said Aimee.
Kennedi is open Tuesday-Saturday 10am-4pm
14-15 Wrawby St Brigg DN20 8JJ
For Personal Styling enquiries, visit aimeekennedistyling.com
SETTING A TREND IN COUNTRYWEAR
Specialists in outdoor and country clothing for both men and women, Wallhead’s Countrywear is a highly regarded family business which combines classic well-known sporting brands with five-star customer service.
Established in 1897 by James Blackburn Wallhead, today this popular store in Wrawby Street, Brigg, is run by fourth generation Richard Wallhead, who is committed to offering a warm welcome with personal attention for both local shoppers, as well as many who come from far and wide, including New Zealand and USA.
As well as catering for formal and casual wear, here you will find everything you need to enjoy the great outdoors, with top quality designs including Barbour, Brook Taverner, Le Chameau, Aigle, Viyella, Peter England, Gurteen and Farah, Hawick knitwear, as well as Failsworth hats and caps.
If you’re looking for quality shooting clothing, Wallhead’s stocks popular German brand Schoffel, including tweed breeks and waistcoats, with caps to match, as well as excellent Gore-Tex and Ventury waterproof, machine washable shooting coats.
For more information about Wallhead’s Countrywear tel: 01652 652356
ENJOY A WARM WELCOME AT THE STEEL ROOMS
Situated in a three-storey building in Springs Parade, the popular Steel Rooms is an innovative concept combining café and gift shop, plus creative workshop space for all ages. Here visitors can indulge in various art and craft workshops.
The shop stocks something different for your home, plus gift ideas, including its own card and print designs.
The modern licensed café, which offers indoor and outdoor seating, has established an excellent reputation with both locals and visitors from further afield.
Choose from a selection of freshly baked vegan, vegetarian and gluten free options, including cream teas, and homemade cakes, served with teas and coffees, cold drinks, plus wines, cider, gin and beers.
“A visit to the Steel Rooms is designed to be an experience and our café aims to cater for the growing demand for sustainable food, especially for those with food intolerances in search of something special,” says owner and artist Julie Steel.
The Steel Rooms is open Monday to Saturday, 9am–3pm (last food orders 2.30pm).
For more information tel: 01652 657256 or visit www.thesteelrooms.com
SHOP IN STYLE AT A.C. PAILTHORP JEWELLERS
If you’re looking for a special gift for loved ones, or a beautiful keepsake to celebrate unique occasions, the experienced and knowledgeable staff at A.C. Pailthorp Jewellers in Wrawby Street, Brigg, will help you to make that special purchase.
Customers can enjoy relaxed shopping in the recently refurbished sumptuous surroundings while choosing from a wide range of quality jewellery products, including watches, rings, diamonds, necklaces, pendants and bracelets, as well as clocks and jewellery boxes.
As a well established independent jewellery store, A.C. Pailthorp also offers valuations, repairs and bespoke engravings, as well as unique custom-made designs.
“Our aim is to personally welcome every customer and help them enjoy the delights of our special shopping experience,” says owner Tracey Riggall, who has worked here for the past 30 years and took over running the business three years ago. “Unlike most high street chains, shoppers, and especially happy couples who are planning a wedding, can enjoy taking time out in our beautiful plush pink velvet seating area while selecting something special and enjoying light refreshments, or even indulge with a glass of Buck’s Fizz!”
For more information about A.C. Pailthorp Jewellers tel: 01652 653374 or visit www.acpailthorpjewellers.co.uk
BOOKSHOP BOUNCES BACK
Communities working together is the key to towns and cities getting back to some sort of normality after the struggles caused by the Covid pandemic.
It was evident last year when the country came out of the first lockdown and it is something that one independent trader in Brigg has already experienced this year as it came out of the third.
Nick and Mel Webb own The Rabbit Hole bookshop in Market Place in Brigg and opened for the first time this year on 12th April only to be forced to close the very next day after finding their shop had been broken into and was boarded up.
But thanks to the local community, regular customers and some big names from the book industry who rallied round to help them bounce back, they were able to finally open their doors for business just 12 days later.
“It was devastating at the time but we managed to get back thanks to amazing support from the local community, Totally Locally and the book community,” Nick said.
Nick and Mel have been overwhelmed by the messages and acts of support they have received, particularly from two of their regular customers who organised fundraising events and even reported it on social media, which resulted in a big surprise.
“There were loads of authors who came together and did events for us to show their support for indie shops,” Nick explained. “Lynda La Plante sent some signed copies of her book because she had seen it on social media, Simon Mayo and author John Boyne contributed to the fund and Simon announced it on his book slot. Nancy Birtwhistle, 2014 Great British Bake Off winner sent us a box of signed books.
“It was a nice feeling to know that high-profile authors like those were behind us and did things that were very special. Two authors donated £500 each to put together a package of books to give free to schools and we have had support in the background from a number of other well-known authors. It has just been lovely.”
Some of the signed books are going into a raffle for The Brigg Foodbank linked with the new Marcus Rashford initiative, which raises the profile of reading for pleasure.
The business normally organises reading groups, activities for children, outdoor events and school events but these have been affected by the recent restrictions and changes to school ‘bubbles’ on a day-to-day basis.
“Having to self-isolate has had more of an impact now than people anticipated,” Nick added.
“Business has been very unpredictable. It is difficult. I don’t think anyone can tell day by day at the minute what is going to happen.
“We have the children’s section at the front but so many schools are impacted at the moment so if they close their bubbles it means the children will be isolating, their parents will be isolating, so day by day it can change as one bubble comes out of isolation and another goes in.
“But we are positive about it and are just carrying on doing the best we can.”
The couple also have a market stall which they set up last June but what they do now is sponsor the stall for new starters.
“We go down, help them set up and visit two or three times in the day to help and support them,” Nick said.
“On the back of that we have many friends who had a lot of craft events cancelled because of lockdown, so we set up an independent market last October, which we have started again now with support from Totally Locally and North Lincolnshire Markets Team.
“We are hoping over the next year it will build into a vibrant new market. We had music last time and we have stalls visiting from other towns and places. The stallholders are wonderful and work together, some making enquiries about more permanent bases in Brigg.
“We are building it slowly because we are trying to work really closely with businesses in the town so they feel part of it. It is like us having a stall. We don’t do it just to sell books, we do it to provide a link to people who are still a bit unsure about going into shops.
“Markets are really valuable in providing a presence in the community. What we are trying to do is create a nice Indie, positive environment where people can support each other and get through to better things because it has been a tough year.”
BRIGG GARDEN CENTRE
Owned by British Garden Centres, Brigg Garden Centre is one of the largest in the UK and is the company’s flagship store.
Garden centres were allowed to reopen in the middle of May last year when the benefits of gardening activity were recognised by Government and it was realised that lockdown and staying at home was going to carry on for a lot longer than anticipated.
PR and communications director, Boyd J Douglas-Davies explains: “Gardening was huge last year and people really took to gardening like never before, which was fortunate for us and we were very busy with sales of plants, gardening accessories, pots, compost and everything that went with that kind of activity so that was very good.”
But it hasn’t all been a bed of roses.
“It was difficult for the teams because we all struggled to get used to social distancing and having to wear a mask or face visor was challenging. But everyone was happy to do it and be there and be working,” Boyd said.
“We made a big change to the garden centre itself during the first lockdown by putting in a new entrance to make it easier for customers and to have a better flow through the store.
“We increased the width of the paths so our retail layout became spacier and we changed the way the customers queued to get to the tills to ensure they weren’t queueing in multiple rows side by side.
“We don’t see a need to change back to the old system and that is working well and it gives people a level of comfort.”
The café and restaurant are now open but have also undergone a change.
“We are doing a different service now,” Boyd explained. “Tables have been spaced out and meals are taken to the table and people seem to like that kind of service, so we will probably keep that going.
“We also introduced a huge amount of house plants to create nice green screens in between tables when the restaurants reopened last year.”
Photographs: Mick Fox