The town on the Trent

Dining Out

Words by:
Glynis Fox
Featured in:
April 2016

Nothing stands still for long in the market town of Newark which – thanks to its great location a stone’s throw from the A1 – is attractive both as a commercial location for new and growing businesses and a convenient commuter base.
Scores of new houses are being built in the surrounding area, and the destination draws shoppers from miles around because of its strong independent offer, national-name stores and homegrown service businesses.

Newark is also home to a diversity of manufacturing, engineering and tech companies and is well-known for its wide range of pubs, restaurants and cafes, which guarantee there is something to tempt all tastebuds.

Now a major hotel chain is showing its confidence in the future of this destination having revealed plans for a new sixty-four-bedroom hotel, with shop and restaurant units at ground floor level.

Its investment signals ten new hospitality jobs, according to Lincoln based Chartered Surveyor Banks Long & Co, which is the agent for the Robin Hood Hotel site, where the hotel is destined to be built.

This is an important development for this site, because it will follow Banks Long & Co’s recent success in leasing premises within the Beaumond Cross complex, which has attracted national as well as regional and local interest.

Late last year premises were leased to Newark family business Holdens and newcomer to the town, the gym 3Sixty Fitness. Now there is only one large unit left to be snapped up at Beaumond Cross.

More recently, Robert Fields launched his enterprise Robert Fields Barbershop in nearby Martindale Lane.

Banks Long & Co managing director Tim Bradford said: “The hotel’s decision to invest in Newark is great news for a number of reasons. Newark is growing fast and needs this facility. The new jobs are welcomed and the planned hotel means we can finally come forward with plans to complete the development and deliver an attractive new building on this prominent junction in 2016.”

Mr Bradford said that, due to the sensitive nature of the site, he has been discussing the issue with Newark & Sherwood District Council, which has also been looking at the proposal for the new hotel and how that might fit into this location.

“The hotel’s decision paves the way for a fresh approach on this site and it provides a key solution to allow us to move forward by creating first and second floor hotel accommodation, with retail and restaurant units below,” he said.

“It is significant that the hotel’s board has chosen to invest in the town centre, rather than on the ring road, as this will bring significant benefits to businesses located centrally within Newark,” added Mr Bradford.

Developer M F Strawson Ltd director, Niel Strawson said: “We have always felt confident about the potential for the Beaumond Cross development, but it has taken some time to progress our vision. Naturally the last property market crash has caused some delays.”

Late last year, well-known Newark family furnisher Holdens decided to take a double unit at Beaumond Cross, where it has created a new store, featuring a mezzanine floor for its beds and bedroom departments.

Since 1986, Holdens has been trading from a large site – stretching from Middlegate to Castlegate in the town centre – but its owners decided to rent out the section of the premises fronting Middle Gate to the Yorkshire Trading Company. Holdens Bespoke, which specialises in made-to-measure kitchens and all types of cabinet furniture, trades from the fourteen-room Georgian building at 11 Castlegate.

Holdens was keen to have its main retail outlet in Beaumond Cross because the family liked the idea of staying in the town centre, while also being based at a location which offered the business excellent parking facilities and the prospect of benefiting from exceptional footfall.

Managing director Jonathan Holden and his wife Marion had decided to retire and hand over the management of the business to their daughters Emma and Katie (fourth generation).

Mr Holden said: “It has gone very well. We have a fresh new look. Lots of people are visiting our new outlet, which enjoys the bonus of good parking facilities. We are now staying open until 7pm on Wednesday evenings, which gives people the opportunity to enjoy late night shopping.”

Entrepreneur Daniel Murray chose to launch his gym venture at Beaumond Cross in November – having decided that Newark was the ideal place to kickstart his plans to eventually have three outlets.

Daniel said Newark’s proximity to the A1 and its sheer growth potential were among factors which drew him to the town.

Attracted by plans for 12,000 new houses and Newark’s drive to encourage more tech firms to move to the area, he chose a unit close to Holdens’ and other high-profile tenants, including Golf Addiction, Subway and Asda.

“I am very happy with the way things are going. In terms of growth, we already have 260 members. I have also been approached by an external investor who is looking at the business from the town’s perspective and how we can improve what we are offering,” said Mr Murray.

Robert Fields is the latest entrepreneur to move to this part of Newark, having launched RJF Robert Fields Barbershop in nearby Martindale Lane in February.

Robert, who offers haircuts, cut-throat shaving and male waxing services – which have become increasingly popular – is delighted to have got off to a flying start.

“I picked these premises because I was convinced I would benefit from passing trade. Things are actually going much better than I expected and I am already exploring the potential of adding extra services,” said Mr Fields.

There are also plenty of niche businesses to be found in the centre of town, including many which have successfully traded in Newark for many years.

They include the jeweller Andrew Michael’s in Stodman Street, which specialises in fabulous jewellery and luxury watches. With more than thirty-five years’ experience under its belt, this is a shop where customers are guaranteed great personal service.

Women who are looking for stylish womenswear will find a selection of top brands at another well-known local business, Jane Young, which has two shops in Chain Lane.

Stray’s at the junction of Middlegate and Boar Lane is a multi-faceted business and the place to track down a coffee “made to your exact specification”, enjoy tapas and jazz sessions and browse and buy books and jazz CDs.

On the leisure and eating front, Newark’s wide choice of bars, restaurants and cafes include venues where you can enjoy a casual ‘beer and a bite’ or the full works.

Kevin Shaw is a director at Wright Vigar and has seen much change in his home town of Newark.

“A few years ago if you wanted to further your career, or purchase anything ‘out of the norm’, you would have to make the arduous journey either to Lincoln or Nottingham, as Newark just didn’t have the facilities or the breadth of business opportunities available,” said Mr Shaw.

“A huge amount of planning, lobbying and plain and simple hard work has gone into making Newark a real contender for attracting not just tourists and shoppers to the thriving visitor experience, but also serious investors who are keen to relocate their business to Newark.

“It offers potential investors a rich pool of resources including excellent road and rail infrastructure, commercial property and housing at competitive rates, a strong labour force and supportive economic development strategies.

“I am delighted that Newark continues to develop a robust business focus in this economic climate – and has truly become a place where people choose to live, work and visit.”

Smith’s Jewellers, Newark, is a traditional independent family jewellers, serving Newark since 2004 and now run by the third and fourth generation of the family.

We aim to deliver the right product to each client with an after sales service that is as important to us as it is to each individual client.

We believe in quality jewellery and service and aim to satisfy each customer’s different needs.

With many years of experience passed down through generations, we offer a genuine service in all key areas of jewellery sales, alterations and repairs.

We pride ourselves on our approachability. So no matter how small or large your jewellery needs, whether it is buying, selling, repairing or redesigning, we are always happy to give advice.

Smith’s Jewellers, Newark, have just ventured into the digital age with our first website, so you can now enjoy our jewellery from the luxury of your own home.

Not every town and village has such a bustling Market Place as Newark – but this is a destination where you will find something going on most days of the week.

On Mondays (except for banks holidays) and on Thursdays the market square is the place to find antique and craft stalls, so be prepared to find some great finds.

On Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays the Market Place is dominated by general retailers, when you can buy everything from fruit and flowers, to clothes and decorative items for the home.

Farmers’ Markets are held on the first Wednesday of every month.

Newark is easy to explore on foot and boasts some great attractions and, if you are touring by car, there are even more places to visit in the local area. The town is the ideal place to enjoy a break from twenty-first-century shopping and take a trip back in time.

You can wander around the ruins of Newark Castle and its gardens and have a guided tour of its dungeons, tower and undercroft.

Also not to be missed is the £5.4 million National Civil War Centre in Appletongate, and the Newark Town Hall Museum and Art Gallery, off the Market Place.

The National Civil War Centre brings to life Newark’s importance during the vicious seventeenth-century wars because of its position at the crossroads of the Great North Road and the Fosse Way – an important crossing point over the River Trent. During the clashes between the Crown and Parliament, Newark underwent three sieges – the last in 1645-46.

For something more light-hearted or the chance to enjoy live music, check out the programme of events at the Newark Palace Theatre, which is also in Appletongate.

And if you love looking around religious buildings, St Mary Magdalene Church, in Church Street, should also be on your list of places to visit.

If you are happy to drive within a fifteen-mile radius of Newark, your family can let their imagination take flight at the Newark Air Museum, which lies a short distance away at Winthorpe.

Southwell and magnificent Southwell Minster – about eight miles outside of Newark – is also well worth a visit and, if you are looking for an action-packed family fun day, check out the Wheelgate Adventure Park at Farnsfield.

On a more serious note, The National Holocaust Centre & Museum at Laxton (eleven miles away from Newark) offers educational and research opportunities and the chance to hear the personal testimonies of Holocaust survivors.

Craftsman Philip Stephenson is in the frame for a relocation move and further expansion. The Newark framer, who only launched his business Framin’ ‘Ell two years ago, is marking the milestone by moving from the town’s Brunel Business Park to Fernwood off the A1 and he is hoping to take on an extra pair of hands later this year.

Phil, who served in the Army for thirty-seven years, is getting approached to work on an increasingly diverse range of projects.

“To date, these have included requests to frame sports shirts, coins from the Newark Civil War, musket balls and also ceramic flowers!” he said. “I’m looking forward to moving because I will be more accessible for people travelling from the A1. I will be closing at my current premises on 2nd April and reopening at Balderton Hall, Fernwood on 11th April. I am also hoping to take on an apprentice later this year.”

Phil’s customers include anyone from art club members to serious art collectors. More people are starting to realise that if they have invested money in a valuable painting or photograph, it needs to be professionally framed, to help retain its value.

In recent months, Phil has also made a name for himself through his stylish mounting and framing of some of the hundreds of individual ceramic poppies which were originally on show at HM Tower of London and which were sold to support a variety of charities.

“To date I have framed nearly fifty poppies. I have also been doing them at cost because, with my service background, I am acutely aware of what they stand for,” said Mr Stephenson.

Coincidentally, Poppies: Wave – one of two sculptures from the installation Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, a display of 888,246 poppies honouring the deaths in the British and Colonial forces of the First World War – is coming to Lincoln. Excitingly, visitors to Lincoln Castle between 28th May and 4th September will get an opportunity to see this stunning artwork and the installation is expected to attract huge numbers of visitors.

Chartered accountant Wright Vigar associate director Michelle Allen said it is great to see Phil, who is one of its clients, doing so well.

“It is especially rewarding to see the growth of a fledgling or niche venture. A business which frames musket balls and ceramic poppies is certainly a first for us, and we wish Phil increasing success in the future,” she said.

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