On track to make a difference in Market Rasen

Words by:
Melanie Burton
Featured in:
November 2021

Well known for its market and race fixtures, the town has much to offer. Melanie Burton looks
at the new initiatives helping to shape its future.

Famous for being home to the only racecourse in Lincolnshire, it is also popular with walkers thanks to its great routes and trails, which are just a five-minute stroll from the town centre. It also has ‘Walkers are Welcome’ status.

Its High Street is home to more than 50 independent businesses, many of them traditional, long-standing family run firms including ironmongers, butchers, as well as shops for menswear, confectionery, haberdashery, gifts and cards.

The town also has a market, which has taken place on the Market Place every Tuesday for centuries. But its future could be under threat after next year.

The Market Place is currently privately owned and the Town Council has leased it for the last 21 years on a commercial lease for a peppercorn rent from Tesco.

However the long-term lease ended in June 2021 and though a lease for an additional year was negotiated for £5,000, there is currently no provision to extend this lease beyond that date.

“If another long-term lease could be arranged, it would include rent increases at set times within the contract,” the council explains to residents in its Q&A document. “It is possible the levels of rent required would be too high for the Council to commit to.

“If the Council can purchase the Marketplace by borrowing at very low interest rates it can fix the repayments for the life of the loan.

“As a tenant the Town Council does not have full control over the Marketplace which it would as owner. After the term of the loan the Marketplace will belong to the Town Council outright, but if the Council continues to rent, then it will have to continue payments indefinitely.

“The land is privately owned, and the owner may choose to sell or rent it privately. If this were to happen the most feasible commercial use of the land would be as a chargeable car park unless planning permission could be gained to build.”

The Market Place has been in existence for 800 years now. It was first given a charter in 1219. The markets were held on a Tuesday and people from all around would flock to Market Rasen to buy and sell their goods and then relax in the inns around the square. Up until 1877 the Market Place was also used as a livestock market. Markets continue to this day with Tuesday still having a produce auction and the Saturday markets having monthly themed events.

Market Rasen was originally known as East Rasen, with Middle Rasen being the more important location, and West Rasen following on from there but became prominent when it was granted the right to a market.

It has always been a tranquil town, with obvious agricultural ties because of its situation, but at one time in the 19th century it boasted nearly a dozen breweries or beer houses, dealers in coal, lime, sand and agricultural requisites, and manufacturers of items as diverse as tiles and washing machines/mangles.

There were many inns/coaching houses, and the town was a centre for the carters from surrounding villages, who converged on the town for market days.

It is presently best known for its racecourse which is one of the busiest in the UK in terms of days when racing takes place.

Market Rasen Racecourse is a National Hunt racecourse with a circumference of around one-and-a-quarter miles. Although National Hunt racing is traditionally a winter sport, Market Rasen stages a year-round programme of racing and its most high-profile fixture is the Summer Plate meeting, normally staged on the third Saturday in July. This features the two-and-a-quarter-mile Summer Hurdle and the eponymous Summer Plate, a two-and-three-quarter-mile chase, both of which are among the most valuable National Hunt races staged in Britain during the summer months.

This year the racecourse announced it was supporting Lindsey Lodge Hospice and Healthcare with a year round charity partnership making it their charity of the year with the highlight being the Lindsey Lodge Hospice Family Extravaganza Raceday.

Nadia Powell, general manager of Market Rasen Racecourse, said: “We are delighted to be able to support Lindsey Lodge by making them our charity of the year and through our Family Extravaganza Raceday.

“They provide invaluable services to people with serious illnesses and their families and I hope that this initiative will both boost awareness of their work and generate vital funding.”

There are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy in the Market Rasen area from farm parks and adventure parks to sports and rambling.

The town has its own golf club which is a challenging, picturesque heathland course with many natural hazards including the River Rase, which flows through the course.

A friendly club, it has about 550 playing members. Casual green fee payers and societies are also welcome and a testimony of its popularity is the fact that many Societies return each year.

For the youngsters, Hall Farm Park, which is a family owned and run attraction set on the edge of the Lincolnshire Wolds, is well worth a visit with its indoor and outdoor play areas, friendly animals, woodland walks, crazy golf, tractor and trailer rides, tearoom serving local produce and gift shop.

And for the more adventurous, Wild Pines Park offers one of the largest ropes courses in the UK, with challenging and exciting activities for all ages. Situated in the beautiful woodland of Linwood Warren near Market Rasen, Wild Pines Park offers the chance for a unique and adventurous day out in the trees.

The site is open during winter and the experience in the trees is suitable for people of all ages, making it an ideal place for any occasion, whether it be a family day out, birthday party, school or college trip, or even a team building exercise.

Natural flood defences are to be installed along the 16-mile-long River Rase in Lincolnshire.

More than £200,000 has been secured to protect communities with work taking place over 18 months.

Nature-based defences will include field bunds, leaky barriers, scrapes to capture water run-off from land, ponds, and better cattle drinking areas to reduce damage to banks.

Councillor Colin Davie, Executive Member for Environment at Lincolnshire County Council, said: “This is brilliant news for the area.

“Climate change is having an impact on our chalk streams, so this funding will be used to help slow the flow during high rainfall and help to reduce flooding downstream in the catchment.”

The money from Government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund comes after a successful bid by the county council and Lincolnshire Chalk Streams Trust.

Trustee Sarah Baker said: “As well as the practical elements, it will also help us to develop a programme of events to share information from other chalk stream landowners and to help connect locals with this rare and beautiful chalk stream full of wildlife on their doorstep.”

The Rase is a tributary of the River Ancholme which begins on Bully Hill near Tealby in the Lincolnshire Wolds.

Market Rasen is home to a number of niche independent shops and the latest to open has joined the climate change campaign.

Inspired by activists such as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and his programme War on Plastic, business woman Jenny Salvidge has set up her own zero waste, plastic free, weigh your own shop, called The Green Life Pantry.

The shop gives people the opportunity to weigh their own foods, buying only what they need and reducing the need for unnecessary packaging.

The aim is to reduce the use of plastic by encouraging customers to refill their own containers, adopting the idea that recycling and reusing will protect the earth.

Jenny explained: “I was getting frustrated that there weren’t options for shopping plastic-free. I put feelers out to try and gauge if that type of shop would be used, and the local feeling was good.

“This way of shopping helps to reduce food waste, which is a huge problem. As customers are buying to their needs, items also take up less space. It takes slightly longer to shop but is ultimately far more rewarding.”

West Lindsey District Council’s recently released Sustainability, Climate Change and Environment Strategy defines its vision, aims and ambitions for the environmental challenges that we face today.

Chairman of the council’s Environment and Sustainability Working Group, Tracey Coulson said: “We are fortunate that we have businesses and people living in our district who take the environment seriously, Jenny Salvidge is just one of many who are working hard to make a difference and it is great that the council was able to support her with grant funding.

“Being mindful of the small ways that we can help the environment, such as using less single-use plastic, will help move us as a district towards living ‘greener’ lives.

“This is just one of many ways that we can help to combat climate change and we wish Jenny the best of luck with her business venture. We hope more businesses will share their news with us to let us learn from businesses who are environmentally friendly.”

As part of the council’s support of businesses during Covid-19, The Green Life Pantry received grants which have been put towards new dispensers in the store, making it easier for customers to weigh their own ingredients more accurately.

The shop sells a range of dry goods including grains, nuts and flours, but also stocks gifts, sweets, tea and coffee and fruits.

Jenny has also created an area dedicated to household refills such as cleaning products and shampoos. The shop is looking to buy a new scale for customers to use, to enable them to buy exactly what they need and ensure they are never over-charged.

Jenny added: “We do try and promote recycling in the shop, we encourage customers to donate their used containers as we feel it is better to re-use first, rather than recycle.

“We would love to see a community recycling scheme in Market Rasen, alongside the council’s provision of litter bins, it would give some of the local community who are less mobile or unable to get to the tip a place to take excess recycling.”

Lincolnshire’s Watermill Leisure Park has been given a gigabit-sized, new lease of life thanks to a superfast broadband upgrade.

Quickline Communications was enlisted to help bring the Market Rasen holiday park into the 21st century, with the installation of ultrafast broadband services.

Quickline was awarded a £3.48m contract, partly funded by Lincolnshire County Council for its OnLincolnshire programme, and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) superfast broadband initiative, to connect 8,000 of the most remote properties in the region with access to next-generation internet.

Watermill Leisure Park, which runs an 11-month season, is nestled in the heart of woodlands and provides an idyllic nature retreat for holidaymakers.

However, due to its rustic location, internet connectivity was not as it should have been when the owner Simon Clarke and his business partner Ben Caplan bought the business in December 2020.

Now, with the installation of the superfast broadband, visitors have a home-away-from-home experience, so on those gloomier days they can easily access movies and entertainment.

The park’s upgraded services will help with targeting a new market of individuals who can work remotely, which opens up opportunities for people to book an extended trip to incorporate both work and play.

“Having reliable broadband and WiFi is a level of service which you’d come to expect as standard, as everything requires a connection these days,” Simon said.

“The solution for this particular issue was out of our hands so when the news came that Quickline would be installing new infrastructure, we were relieved.

“This has been a game-changer as the accessibility has improved so many things for the business.
“It has opened doors for us, as having the option of WiFi is a huge plus, especially for customers who are buying our luxury holiday homes.”

Sean Royce, CEO of Quickline, said: “Enjoying a slower pace of life doesn’t mean that connectivity in rural surroundings should follow suit.

“Internet services have now become intrinsic to daily life and since the pandemic, more people want the option to get away but still have the freedom to have a working holiday if they choose to, not because broadband dictates otherwise.”

If you’re looking for delicious award-winning artisan soft cheeses, made by a well-established local dairy farming family using milk from their contented free range cows, Cote Hill Cheese is a perfect place to visit.

Situated near Osgodby, the Davenport family opened The Cheese Shed, their popular self-service farm shop last year.

Offering shoppers, a choice of Cote Hill’s Lindum, Red, Yellow, Blue and Soft White cheeses, together with other producers’ butter, eggs, cheese, plum bread, jam, marmalade, tea and coffee.

There is also a milk dispensing machine where shoppers can fill their own glass bottles with delicious fresh raw milk from Cote Hill’s herd of 80 Friesian and Brown Swiss cows and be assured of the provenance of what they are buying.

Also popular are the milkshake flavour optics and bean to cup coffee machine with freshly ground coffee from Stokes Tea & Coffee.

The Cheese Shed at Cote Hill Farm which was launched with the aim to encourage more people to shop locally, be eco-savvy and discover exactly where their food comes from, also offers a Click and Collect service for their range which includes cheese gift boxes, just visit www.cotehill.com for more details.

If you’re looking for delicious home-cooked festive fare to enjoy eating in or delivered to your door, the catering team at Nice & Naughty café/bistro in Market Rasen are offering a special Christmas menu with bookings now being taken (up to 7th December), and deliveries up to 24th December.

“We recently took delivery of our new catering trailer, which is available to book for weddings, parties, fetes and events,” says owner Nicky Brookshank. “Our personalised service allows us to cater for all dietary requirements, including vegans, vegetarians, sugar, gluten and dairy free.

“Since we opened in 2017, we have also been helping people lose weight, offering calorie controlled bespoke meal plans cooked by slimmers, for slimmers.”

Nice & Naughty, which has a five-star hygiene rating, has also created a garden area offering “Craft It” experiences for children and adults; perfect as a rainy-day experience!

As a community centred café, the team are also passionate fundraisers for local charities and recently held a special Breast Cancer afternoon tea in support of Nicky’s mother, who is currently receiving treatment, with many generous raffle prizes donated by local businesses, which proved very successful.

For more information visit www.niceandnaughtybistro.co.uk

Photographs: Mick Fox

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