Charms of the town on the Trent
Fledgling entrepreneurs and expanding businesses are injecting extra vitality into Newark – a market town whose character is increasingly being enhanced by a fascinating mix of independent shops and eateries.
Many offer an unexpected bonus for shoppers, such as ranges which are unavailable elsewhere locally, customer loyalty events and the chance to relax and enjoy live music.
There’s always something going off in the Market Place too, with a changing mix of sellers setting out their stalls on most days of the week. The town also has a fair mix of national retailers.
However, some traders would like to see parking in the town made more attractive to visitors and shoppers, by allowing trading bays – not needed for weekend deliveries – to be used for short-term parking on Saturdays and Sundays.
Newark’s edge-of-town industrial estates and stores continue to provide a real mix of employment opportunities in this well-located town, which is close to the A1 and well-placed for commuters and businesses who can make the most of the dualled A46, offering fast access to the wider East Midlands.
But Newark Business Club believes the town and its suburbs could do much better when it comes to attracting further inward investment, which is why a lot of time and energy continues to be ploughed into the Brand Newark initiative.
So what does Newark offer shoppers and browsers at the moment and who is behind some of its newer businesses?
Long-established shopkeepers in the town centre include the fashion houses Jane Young, in Chain Lane and Shirt Sleeves, in Middlegate, and if you are looking for a stylish watch, jeweller Andrew Michaels in Stodman Street is another name to note.
Ann et Vin, in Castlegate, with its well-stocked shop and The Courtyard Wine Bar, is popular with wine buffs, shoppers looking for a quick bite to eat and jazz lovers too.
Newark also has plenty of choice if you enjoy eating out, with something to suit most palates and purses, from Italian, to Indian, French and modern English cuisine. Venues include Rushton’s, Cafe Bleu and Pizza Express.
Sisters Carly Aldred (24) and Cassie Masters (26), whose parents moved to Newark two years ago, are the brains behind two neighbouring businesses, which were launched last year.
The women are based in The Cavalier Building at Warwick Brewery, where Carly opened fashion boutique Blessed, in October, and Cassie launched the coffee shop and deli, Flavours a month later. Another branch of Blessed opened in Oakham in November.
Carly Aldred said: “Cassie and I had thought about doing something together for about five or six years. I did a fashion retail diploma and formerly managed an independent shop in Derby.
“Blessed is a destination shop and I carry a huge range of fashions from loungewear to evening and occasion wear. It is not targeted at a specific age range, eighty per cent of the clothes could be worn by myself or my mum.
“Seventy-five per cent of people who visit my shop are loyalty customers and we are gradually getting more well known.”
Cassie’s coffee shop and deli serves a variety of home-cooked foods and sells cheeses, meals and breads to take away.
“We are both open seven days a week and both of our businesses benefit from each other,” added Carly.
Work is continuing at Beaumond Cross, an exciting new extension to Newark Town Centre, where a 60,000 sq ft Asda foodstore is now trading and a 400-space car park has been created.
People are also served by a new doctor’s surgery – as a result of a relocation from former premises in Lombard Street – and a new Lloyd’s pharmacy.
Commercial agent Banks Long & Co director, James Butcher said: “The next phase of the shopping development should be ready for occupation, as anticipated, later this month.
“Our discussions are continuing with a number of national multiple retailers who are interested in taking the majority of space within this phase.
“The final phase, on the site of the former Robin Hood Hotel, will start once planning and listed building consent can be obtained, which we are expecting will be later this year,” he added.
Together, both phases of this development will create about 40,000 sq ft of new shopping space. There will also be potential in most of the units to add mezzanine floors, doubling the available area.
MF Strawson, which is developing phases one and two of Beaumond Cross, has redeveloped Martindale House, creating a string of small shop units in Martindale Lane.
Banks Long & Co surveyor, Matthew Brooks has already let three of these – to expanding pawnbroker Brown & Gold Ltd (which also has branches in Lincoln, Gainsborough and Sleaford), to entrepreneur Matthew Ellerby and to hairdresser Helen Grove.
“Martindale Lane is another example of investment into Newark town centre which highlights the demand for retail space there,” said Mr Brooks.
Matthew Ellerby is the brains behind Silver Gift Box – an Aladdin’s Cave, filled with silver and other jewellery, teddy bears and more. Matthew considered going to university, but then decided he would prefer to have his own business.
“I think I have chosen a good location for my shop and one that is good value,” said Matthew, who is helped by his mum Andrea.
Hairdresser Helen Grove, who used to have two salons in Norfolk, has also chosen Martindale Lane for her business, Auburn.
Three units – two shops and a takeaway – remain available to rent.
Lincoln based commercial agent, Hodgson Elkington has been busy finding tenants for the Fernwood development off the A1 South and signing up businesses for a complex on the Brunel Drive Industrial Estate.
Hodgson Elkington partner, Tim Shaw said: “We have been strong in securing a number of new occupiers for the Fernwood development and we are continuing to market the remaining office premises.
“On Brunel Drive, we have successfully filled the industrial estate at Sanigar Court, where all eight units are fully occupied by new tenants.
“The landlord at Sanigar Court also spent significant sums of money on installing photovoltaic panels on the roof of this complex. Tenants are allowed to draw electricity from this.
“We believe that the Sanigar Court development is the first photovoltaic industrial Estate in Newark where tenants benefit from electricity which has been generated by the sun,” added Mr Shaw.
For a grand day out
There’s plenty to see and do in Newark and the surrounding area, whether you want to dip into its illustrious past, fancy messing about on the river, plan to get fit or want to buy a vehicle and go travelling.
Newark Castle, which was partly destroyed in 1646 at the end of the English Civil War, is well worth a look, or you could choose to chill out in its Grade II listed gardens – designed by eminent Victorian landscaper, H E Milner.
Riverside Park, opposite the castle on the other side of the River Trent is another good spot in which to relax and watch the world go by.
Or why not pop into the Market Place and visit the Grade I listed Georgian Town Hall, which was designed by John Carr of York in 1776. This working town hall has housed a modern museum since 1999.
Curator, Patty Temple said: “Displays include history dating back to the early Charter of 1549 and a superb fine art gallery, including works by William Nicholson and Stanley Spencer.”
As we went to press, Newark and Sherwood District Council was still waiting to hear whether a bid for £3.5 million of Heritage Lottery Funding to turn the town’s Grade II listed Old Magnus Buildings, in Appletongate, into a new museum and National Civil War Centre, has been successful.
If you enjoy spending lazy hours on the river, you are likely to enjoy visiting Newark or Farndon Marinas.
Farndon Marina is also the base for M10 Fitness, owned by Mark Coles.
“Nearly everyone that comes to see me has tried the usual weight-loss approaches to being in the best shape of their life. Changing your shape is all about improving what it looks like in the mirror with your clothes off and not what it looks like when it’s still covered up,” he said.
“Our tailor-made programmes for indivduals concentrate on high intensity work, using strength training and conditioning systems, which increase lean muscle mass, speed up a person’s metabolic rate and strip body fat.”
Newark Showground hosts scores of public and private events, from the Newark and Nottinghamshire County Show (which took place in May), to antiques fairs, gardens shows and autojumbles, so little wonder it attracts the crowds.
On 30th June, from 6pm to 2am, the Ball of the Decade is set to light up The George Stephenson Exhibiton Hall. The dress code is Black Tie or Mess Kit With Miniatures and Georgy Heneage is part of the organising team.
He said: “Newark Showground is delighted to be co-organisers of the Armed Forces Day Ball in aid of ABF The Soldiers’ Charity. Highlights include a Beating Retreat, a Dakota flypast, casino and roulette, magicians, caricaturists.
“As well as the delights of champagne, cocktails, and real ale served in traditional bars, there will be performances from George Dennis, a live band and a discotheque.”
The main sponsors include The Newark and Nottinghamshire Agricultural Society, Ruddocks, Ginger Design and Trellon.
Members of our armed forces risk their lives daily, with great professionalism and courage and the ball is seen as a wonderful opportunity for people to show their support and awareness of what they do for our country.
Finally, if you want to get away from it all, Newark can provide the solution because it is home to Brownhills, which has more than 250 motorhomes on site, with sixty in its showroom.
Newark Business Club is forging ahead with its drive to spread the word that the town and its fringes are a fantastic location for expanding companies and inward investors.
And it has also played its part in a bid to try and secure Mary Portas Pilot funding which would help to inject extra vitality into the shopping heart of Newark.
As part of the Brand Newark initiative, the Club commissioned research into the current make-up of the area to identify gaps in the market which present untapped opportunities for business.
Club Action Group chairman, Tim Shaw said information from that exercise has been assimilated and has helped to produce a list of companies which will be encouraged to support the Brand Newark message.
“We will be asking these companies why they chose to locate in Newark, what they like about the town, whether they feel Newark has a vibrant business community and whether the improved communications – through the dualling of the A46 and travelling time to the A1/M1 – help their business,” he said.
Mr Shaw said Brand Newark aims to get endorsements from these firms.
“Research carried out has been useful in preparing the Brand Newark document, which is due to be completed in the next few weeks. After this we will discuss with Newark and Sherwood District Council how we can use Brand Newark to promote the area for inward investment.
“The Newark Business Club has also been involved and pivotal in a bid for funding under the Mary Portas project. This is a scheme whereby towns could bid for money to improve their environment and make town centre retailing a success,” said Mr Shaw.
“The club produced a bid based on innovative ideas and this has now been submitted. As well as this important piece of work, the club remains active in relation to planning in the town centre and other development projects.”
Spotlight on development
People living in and around Newark have been commenting on potential new areas for development on their patch.
Newark and Sherwood District Council asked people for their views about possible new sites for development, which have been put forward by landowners, and they were preparing to look at these comments as we went to press.
Landowners have said:
• Public open space off Lincoln Road/Cedar Avenue, Newark, might be used for housing and open space, including twenty-four homes.
• Land off Northgate, Newark could be used for new shops.
• Land east of Newlinc Business park, Winthorpe/Coddington (about forty-eight hectares) might be good for a distribution site.
• Land at Crew Lane/Fiskerton Road, Southwell – might be used for housing and employment opportunities.
Landowners suggested the sites following a major consultation by Newark and Sherwood District last autumn on its Allocation and Development Management Development Plan. This earmarks new land for homes, employment and other uses.