Town at full gallop
Lincolnshire has many small, bustling market towns but one that springs to mind is Market Rasen, which is one of the western gateways to the Lincolnshire Wolds and has plenty to attract visitors to the area.
It seems to be once again a growing town, with housing developments springing up and more people moving into the area.
It might be famous for being home to the only racecourse in Lincolnshire, but Market Rasen offers everything you need from fresh local produce, clothes and gifts to electrical goods, takeaways and supermarkets.
Entertainment and leisure is also a big focus for the town with its many walks, cycle paths and country lanes to explore and there is plenty to attract those much-needed visitors.
In fact, major events that have been taking place throughout the year have seen thousands flock to the town, helping increase footfall and boost the local economy.
Market Rasen racecourse also plays its part in putting the town on the national map not only through its popular race days but also through its open-air shows. Rasen Rocks 2015 attracted around 14,000 people when legendary crooner Tom Jones appeared at the racecourse and a similar number turned out to enjoy Jess Glynne.
This year racegoers were treated to X Factor star Ollie Murs and the Brit award winning Kaiser Chiefs.
The Kaiser Chiefs are widely regarded as one of the best live bands the UK has produced in the past decade and featured at Glastonbury this year.
On a smaller scale but equally important is the local entertainment that goes on in the town, particularly at the revived Festival Hall which is an iconic building which has undergone a major regeneration project.
The 400-seater hall, which was built in 1972 from subscriptions raised by the town, has had extensive repair work carried out including a new weatherproof roof and is now a regular venue for live entertainment, private parties and regular clubs and activities. Supported by Market Rasen Town Council it is bringing in the audiences on a regular basis and putting the town on the entertainment map.
The town council is carrying out last-minute preparations for its major Christmas event, its festive market and Mayor’s Charity event on Saturday 25th November from 10am to 4pm. Combined with the switching on of the Christmas lights, it will be a day of fun for all the family and an event which gets the local community together supporting the local businesses.
There will be festive stalls, Santa in his grotto, live music and street entertainment, as well as seasonal refreshments and a Christmas pantomime n the Festival Hall.
“We have regular bookings at the Festival Hall and lots of live music events coming up,” said bookings clerk Kerrie Nicholson.
“We have a packed programme of events right through to next year, including a Leonard Cohen Songbook event in February.
“Everything is going well. We continue to put live music on and we are busy with our regular hirers. People are using it in the community for private functions and children’s parties which is good news.”
Market Rasen is not just about entertainment and leisure but can also pride itself on its long-established businesses such as Peter Rhodes and Duckworths which have been part of the fabric of the town for decades.
It also has a market that dates back centuries and though it isn’t as vibrant as in the days of yore it nevertheless plays an important part in the local economy.
Originally the market took place on Sundays but it was changed to Tuesdays in the early thirteenth century. Over the years it has seen a wide assortment of goods bought and sold such as cattle, arable crops, grain, coal, fertiliser and salt.
The market was first given a charter in 1219 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. Another event would be the hiring fairs.
Anybody looking for work would come to the market place and mill around hoping to be chosen for work – people would be hired for just one year, hence the annual hiring fairs.
They would carry the tools of their trade to show prospective employers what their line of work was – so a house maid would carry a mop and bucket, or a field hand would wear a sheaf of corn in his hat.
Once they had been chosen for work and settled on a fair wage, it was time to relax and celebrate and the market place would be alive with games and Punch & Judy shows for entertainment.
From 1800 to 1888 there would be a week of festivities every year at the end of September, organised by local innkeepers and the Friendly Societies and this was the start of the horse races for which Market Rasen is now famous.
The horse races would be on the Monday, Tuesday was like a giant sports day with events like climbing a greasy pole or wheelbarrow races for the townspeople, on Wednesday there would be a cricket match and every day there would be music and dancing late into the evening.
Over the years this week of festivities grew to become an annual fair with rides and entertainment for all the townspeople to enjoy.
Nowadays there are more modern methods to get yourself hired, such as networking events – and networking is proving to be popular with businesses in the Market Rasen area.
In fact, one Rasen business networking group is having to move into larger premises because it has expanded so much since it was established less than a year ago.
The Lincoln North branch of 4Networking, which formed in March this year, has had to move to a new bigger location at Hemswell Court for its meetings because membership has risen so rapidly.
FULFILLING YOUR BATHROOM DESIRES
Luxury bathrooms are something everyone desires and for one expert, making people’s dreams come true led to him setting up his own business.
With a wealth of thirty years’ experience under his belt in bathroom layout design and installation, Ian McCready branched out on his own and set up Bathroom Desires in Market Rasen back in 2013.
He opened a brand new bathroom showroom with six display areas to help customers find the bathroom they were looking for and business is booming.
“We offer a one-to-one service and the whole job is done without the customer having to see lots of people. We go out to customers’ homes to measure up and go through all the details with them,” said Ian.
Ian worked for Marenda Lindsey’s Bathrooms as sales and showroom manager before he opened his own showroom nearly five years, so is well equipped to help people achieve their desired bathroom.
“We offer the full service and cover the whole of Lincolnshire. Business has gone mad at the minute which is nice. We are very busy and it has more than exceeded my expectations.”
Business is so successful, Ian’s son Declan has now joined the company.
“He is 23 and will be taking over the reins eventually, so he is learning the ropes from me at the minute,” said Ian.
“We offer a one-to-one service and offer late night opening by appointment only,” added Ian.
DIAMOND YEAR FOR PETER RHODES
2017 has proved to be a milestone year in more ways than one for one of Market Rasen’s oldest established businesses.
Peter Rhodes was established in 1957 and is still a family run business. It is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year and has just opened a new expanded showroom.
The business was started by Peter and Joyce Rhodes, and is now owned by Joyce and her son-in-law Roger Clark.
“We have been in business now for sixty years and Joyce has been here since it started. She still comes into work all day every day and is still very much hands-on,” said Roger.
Peter Rhodes’ kitchen centre and electrical shop used to be located on the corner near the traffic lights in the centre of Market Rasen but it has now opened a brand new shop in its warehouse.
“It wasn’t our intention to move into a new showroom to mark our 60th year but that is what has happened,” said Roger.
“There is more room, it is a lot better and there is a lot more spaces for people to shop. It is all on one level, there are no steps so it is wheelchair friendly.”
Market Rasen’s population is increasing as more houses are built and Peter Rhodes’ business is benefitting from it.
“Market Rasen isn’t what it used to be but there are still a lot more people coming into the town. More people are moving here so we are still busy, particularly the kitchen centre and the white goods,” said Roger.
“We employ fifteen people both here and at the Kitchen Centre and we have another shop in Louth too.”
Peter Rhodes is part of the Euronics network and as such is a specialist in the field of electrical goods.
Euronics stores are all independent electrical retailers, who as members of Euronics, the largest electrical buying group in Europe, join forces to create heavyweight buying power.
With thirty member countries across Europe and 11,000 specialist stores and branches, reaching 600 million consumers, every agent in each country is a specialist in the field of electrical goods.
Peter Rhodes started out as electrical contractors and spent the first ten years on Gallamore Lane, before expanding and moving to its current premises.
“Joyce has been involved for the whole of the sixty years. She is the driving force behind the move and it is her vision that is moving the business forward,” said Roger.