A most desirable market town

Words by:
Glynis Fox
Featured in:
May 2014

The Wolds town of Louth is a real gem set in the heart of a rural area.
It offers the visitor a super mix of attractions, colourful markets and retail therapy with a personal touch.

This is a destination which bursts with pride over the fact that it is home to a high number of independent traders, as well as nationally recognised names.Unsurprisingly, it is keen to maintain its unique character for the future.

If you love local history and art, you will want to take time out to pop into the town’s museum in Broadbank. This attraction boasts a range of galleries, a classroom, library and gift shop.

Run by the voluntary charity The Louth Naturalists’, Antiquarian and Literary Society, it has won four Renaissance Heritage Awards and was named Lincolnshire Heritage Museum of the Year 2012.

This venue hosts a changing range of exhibitions – look out for The Combine Farming Heritage Exhibition which runs from 7th to 30th May.

If you have a passion for arts and crafts, don’t leave town without popping into the ever-changing, colourful world of Park Gallery, near Spout Yard, Ludgate.

Louth’s famous landmark, St James’s Church, which towers over this bustling destination, is also well worth a visit. Next year sees the 500th anniversary of the completion of its spire.

This is a town which is also well-known for its lively markets, special events and overall shopping experience, whether you are looking for the freshest of fruit and vegetables to locally produced meats and cheeses, quality fashions, footwear, furniture or individually crafted gifts.

Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays are traditional market days, but this year locals and visitors can enjoy Craft Markets on the third Saturday of the month and Louth Food Friday events on the second Friday of each month.

Over the years, many developers have been tempted to put forward schemes in order to take their name or brand to the town – but many locals are keen to maintain Louth’s special ambience and they tend to be pretty vocal about what should or should not be built on their patch.

Town Manager, Nicola Marshall said: “Louth is a busy and friendly market town. It is, of course, facing challenges, in common with other market towns across the country.

“These include economic downturn, out-of-town shopping, internet shopping, rising prices for households, business rates and parking costs – but Louth has a resilience, as well as its history to draw upon.

“We have a high number of independent shops – around seventy-five per cent of our total – but we are also large enough to attract nationals. For instance, we have a Clarks shoes franchise, M&Co, Peacocks, New Look and Greenwoods stores.

“We have family greengrocers – including W Robinson & Sons which has been in the town and run by the Robinson family for 180 years – luxury goods and fashion outlets for men and women, stores selling homewares (including artisan and deluxe products), pharmacies, secondhand bookshops and much more.”

Look out for those individual touches which enhance the shopping experience in Louth too. Local artist, Margaret Taylor is the talent behind the amazing mural on the wall of the jeweller Scott’s (Lincs) Ltd. A working artist since the 1960s, she was commissioned to create the eye-catching piece by former tenant Pailthorpe’s in 1987.

Margaret, who trained at Lincoln Art College, updates the mural every so often. In 2005 she refreshed it with the addition of two figures and made further slight adjustments in 2012. You can find out more about Margaret’s work by visiting www.themargarettaylorcollection.co.uk

Proposed major developments for Louth always attract plenty of debate and media attention, whether they concern plans for more housing, a new supermarket or the future of the town’s Cattle Market.

It’s clear that there are challenges for Louth – including the ongoing tension between the need to move forward and develop, whilst holding onto the richness of the town’s heritage and retaining its strengths and attractions.

By the time you read this, work will have started on the demolition of the town’s redundant Malt Kiln Mill in Newbridge Hill, paving the way for a £4 million Aldi store which will create around thirty-five new jobs. Hundreds of people will also be involved in its construction. The demolition programme is expected to take around six months to finish and the store a further six months to build.

East Lindsey District Council is currently marketing the town’s Livestock Market site as available for redevelopment; although the authority said that, if this were to happen, an alternative Livestock facility would be made available in the town.

A Scrutiny Panel is exploring all the issues relating to the Cornmarket site, including talking to the market’s existing and potential users about what they would require from any new facility.

Councillors also want to find out more about how local people would like to see the site used, if it were to be redeveloped.

Scrutiny Panel chairman, Councillor Daniel Simpson said: “It is our job to provide the District Council with a balanced and considered report on the Livestock Market site to help in the decision-making process.”

Louth Town Clerk, Linda Blankley said: “We have had some input into this already. We are supporting, in principle, the Keep Louth Special view of retaining the market on its existing site but enhancing it operationally with other sustainable activities.”

The Scrutiny Committee will finish its work towards the middle of this year.

Today’s best market towns know that one of the keys to success and boosting footfall is to offer shoppers and visitors a range of attractions and a lively programme of events.

The Louth Town Partnership aims to promote Louth as a place to shop, visit and live and runs a number of events throughout the year, which pull in people from the town and further afield.

27th April: Spring Festival, Louth Town Centre, from 10am to 4pm (Food, crafts, demonstrations, music and entertainment)

18th May: Louth Lions Vintage Tractor Rally, from Louth Town Centre, 2pm

1st June: Louth Lions ClassicCar Rally, from Louth Town Centre

5th June: Louth Lions Bike Night, Louth Town Centre, from 4pm (A real crowdpuller which attracts thousands of bikers and friends)

20th June – 13th July: Zero Degrees Festival, which includes a wide range of events to suit all tastes

20th June: Party in the Pews, St James’s Church

22nd June: Vintage Day in the Cornmarket, European style café culture, music, dancing and stalls. Also watch out for Louth Music Festival sessions and comedy during the Zero Degrees event.

13th July: The Zero Degrees Festival culminates with the Louth Food Festival, in the Town Centre, featuring more than ninety stalls

Louth, with its quaint winding streets, is perfect for exploring and there are lots of attractions worth discovering.

Town Manager, Nicola Marshall said: “There is a terrific cultural scene in the town and Louth punches above its weight with its own three-screen cinema, theatre, art gallery, music societies, sports centre and cricket pavilion. There really is something for everyone.”

Award-winning Louth Museum is packed with interesting collections which reflect the history of the area and highlight some of its famous characters. This venue also hosts fascinating exhibitions.

A Museum volunteer said its features include four galleries. The Panorama Gallery features a contemporary interpretation of William Brown’s panorama. This famed piece of work, which gives a 360-degree view of the town from the top of St James’s Parish Church spire, was sketched by Brown in the 1840s and then painted by him.

Rocks and fossils and a rare Roman trulla (saucepan) are among the artefacts on display in the Ludalinks Gallery, while the Town Gallery lifts the lid on objects made or used in the town. The museum has the largest collection, nationally, of woodcarvings by the Victorian artist and craftsman, Thomas Wallis.

In the Town Gallery Mezzanine, visitors can learn about the disastrous flash flood, which hit the town in May 1920.

From 7th – 30th May, the Museum will be hosting The Combine Farming Heritage Exhibition, providing a superb opportunity for people to learn how farming has influenced the history of Lincolnshire.

Park Gallery, near Spout Yard, was re-opened in December 2013 by figurative artist, James Gillick. His three interns Jacqueline Del Curto (California), Patrick Guthrie (Ludford) and Sophie Botsford (Cambridge), run it on a day-to-day basis.

Jacqueline – an apprentice for six months – is helping at the gallery until the end of May, before returning home to set-up as a self-employed artist. Patrick will be there until September, when goes to University College, London to study the History of Art with Material Studies and Sophie is keen to set-up as a professional artist when her internship ends in September.

Jacqueline said: “The Gallery is unique in that Patrick, Sophie and I are targeting local artists – both seasoned professionals and young artists – to exhibit their work. We believe in fostering art in the community and encouraging local talent.”

The gallery can also be hired for community meetings and activities. It also offers children’s craft classes over the school holidays and private drawing and painting lessons. Most exhibitions run on a monthly basis.

The old courthouse – in The Sessions House, which is home to Louth Town Council – houses the original Brown’s Panorama, which comprises two nine foot by six foot oil paintings.

It can be viewed by the public on Wednesdays and Friday mornings from 10am.

A local historian will be on hand between 10.30am and 11.30am to help bring this artwork to life for visitors.

One of the things which makes Louth stand out from many other market towns, is its sheer wealth of privately-owned businesses.

So many of its independents have stood the test of time and this seems to be a factor which encourages other new and expanding entrepreneurs to ‘give it a go.’ Traders also know that offering good customer service plays a key role in their ongoing success.

Long-standing businesses include the clothing, footwear and luggage retailer Luck of Louth, department store Eve & Ranshaw, Meridian Meats and The Cheese Shop. But there is always a new arrival or expanding retailer adding to the mix. The latest include Mother Earth, and Wild Orchid Interiors.

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