A town for exploring

Words by:
Glynis Fox
Featured in:
March 2015

In a nutshell, the historic market town of Spilsby has a lot going for it, thanks to its great location, niche shopping offer and lively community spirit.
The home of the famous explorer Sir John Franklin – a statue of whom dominates the Market Place – is a destination where you will find a real mix of newer enterprises trading alongside long-standing independent businesses.

The town’s industrial estate is also home to major companies, which supply an amazing range of goods and services and which provide employment in what is a very rural area.

Spilsby offer families a wide range of schooling and anyone moving into the area will find a wealth of community groups and activities, from toddler groups to U3A.

In addition, Spilsby is perfectly situated if you want a friendly stopping-off point on your way to the seaside, or fancy a quick lunch stop whilst touring the area and visiting attractions including Bolingbroke Castle, Snipe Dales Country Park, East Kirkby Aviation Centre and Gunby Hall.

Town clerk Bonny Smith said the town is holding its own on the shopping front. New businesses have moved in over the past few months and hostelries have been sprucing up their premises.

“There are still a few empty shops in Spilsby, but the level of occupancy is favourable in relation to other towns,” she said.

Newer shops to look out for, if you haven’t visited the town for a while, are Witch-crafts and the gift shop Mumfy’s Place, and you will also find a stationery shop and party store.

Long-established businesses include the hardware and tool shop Tongs of Spilsby, Simons Butchers, motorcycle specialist A E Wildman & Son and the clothing shop, The Green House.

Simon Johnson has been at the helm of Simons Butchers for twenty years, but he has diversified over the years to offer shoppers more products and services.

Today, his butcher’s shop sells ready-prepared dishes for the busy customer, as well as traditional meats. Just over two years ago he branched out further by snapping up the deli almost across the road from the butchery and launching Deli-E11even – a bakery and coffee house.

But he didn’t stop there. In October 2013 Simon took over Modens Bakery, which is home to a much-loved Lincolnshire plum bread. Now he is concentrating on consolidating his diverse interests, whilst encouraging visitors to Spilsby to pop into Deli-E11even for a break or to check out what today’s modern butcher offers.

A E Wildman & Son’s roots stretch back to 1926, when the motorcycles, servicing and accessories outlet was started by Ted Wildman. Today, what is claimed to be the oldest business of its kind in Lincolnshire is headed by Peter and Lisa McDowell. Motorcyclists from miles around visit the business, which also boasts its own cafe – Triumph’s.

A E Wildman & Son sponsors one of the highlights of Spilsby’s events calendar, the Spilsby Bike Night, which typically attracts 2,000-plus bikers and their friends.

This year’s Bike Night takes place on Tuesday 19th May.

On the Vale Road Industrial Estate you will find a wealth of companies, from label makers to promotional goods suppliers, hauliers and electrical businesses, which are taking Spilsby’s name to the wider world.

One of the more recent arrivals is Western Power Distribution, whose super eco-friendly depot with its stores and offices last year scooped a BREEAM post-construction award.BREEAM, a standard setter for best practice in building design and construction, rated the building as ‘outstanding’.

“Getting Western Power Distribution’s award-winning depot on the town’s industrial estate was a major coup for the town,” said Bonny.

Spilsby also has a good selection of pub and owners and managers have been busy investing in their offer.

“The Nelson Butt is currently doing very well, especially on the meals side. You have to book in advance for a table. I understand that The George is having its kitchen refurbished and The Red Lion continues to be a popular meeting place for bikers and members of other organisations,” said Bonny.

“Overall, Spilsby is a good place to eat now, with a choice of pub, restaurant and cafe meals. Apparently, the Cornhill Cafe does one of the best cooked breakfasts around,” added Bonny.

It is understood that The White Hart Hotel has been bought by Hawthorn Leisure. It was being run by temporary managers as we went to press. Some refurbishment work was underway, with part of the pub remaining open every day. Hawthorn said it would be looking for a “permanent” manager and staff.

Spilsby has a real wealth of community-based interest groups, so if you’re thinking of moving into the town or recently relocated to the area, it could be a great idea to check them out.

Activities taking place in the Franklin Hall – where the town council is based – include martial arts, bowls, tai chi and yoga and there are more events in the pipeline.

“The East Lindsey District Council-run virtual gym is very well attended, as are the Keep Fit classes. U3A continues to attract new members and the list of activities is expanding to include Spanish, Latin and a Singing for Fun group,” said Bonny.

Spilsby is twinned with Fresnay sur Sarthe in France and Bassum in Germany. The Spilsby & District Twinning Asssociation meets regularly in The Red Lion pub.

“We had a successful visit last year of sixty-two French visitors. New hosts were found and have taken a keen interest. We are going to France in July, with one of the junior football teams, and the German visitors are coming during August Bank Holiday weekend.

“We are holding fundraising events throughout the year to pay for the hosting costs. The Town Council also makes a donation towards the reception.”

As part of the day-to-day business of the Town Council, Bonny added that extra taps had been fitted at the town’s allotments and the council is exploring ways of offering easier access for a disabled tenant. It is hoped that a compost toilet will also be installed at the site, if funding can be found.

“An outdoor gym for the Playing Fields is still a project in the pipeline and we are applying for funding to help with the cost of that,” added Bonny.

St James Church in Spilsby may have started life as a college for priests but today it is gradually reshaping itself to become an ever more important asset to the local community.

The building, claimed to be the largest in the town, stands on the corner of Church Street and Boston Road and, although it dates back to the fourteenth century, it has undergone many changes down the centuries.

Now the venue, which contains memorials to the Willoughby de Eresby family, Sir John Franklin and his brother Major James Franklin and Sir Willingham Franklin, is tackling its latest challenge – the drive to raise £42,000.

St James’s Vicar and Rural Dean of Bolingbroke, Canon Peter Coates said: “We need to raise the money for the repair and replacement of rainwater goods and valley guttering. In 2009 similar work was completed on the east end and on the Willoughby Chapel but at the time funds could not be stretched to complete the work across the rest of the church.

“Our efforts to fundraise will be aided by the return of our popular Saturday coffee mornings – starting on 2nd May, from 10am to 12noon.

“They are a great opportunity for the community to come and have a chat. Also we have our annual Arts & Crafts Fayre, taking place on Friday July 24th and Saturday July 25th.”

The Church, which is the hub of a group made up of seven parishes, already caters for bellringers, organ players and interest groups such as the U3A, but the team at St James’s is keen to welcome more.

A £10,000 grant from the National Churches Trust awarded a year ago – as part of a £645,000 funding package shared by forty-five historic and community-minded churches – is already driving interest in the churches as a multi-use venue.

“We used our grant to build a much better kitchen and install three toilets, which has really enhanced our facilities and made us more attractive to community groups and other potential users,” said Canon Peter.

A summertime festival which is being launched in Spilsby will highlight how the past has shaped the Lincolnshire Wolds – a nationally important landscape.

After the groundbreaking triumph of the first Lincolnshire Wolds Festival of Archaeology, the organisers are busy planning this year’s festival, which will take place from Saturday 11th July to Sunday 26th July.

Rich in past human activity, the Lincolnshire Wolds have an abundance of cultural and archaeological heritage – two factors leading to Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty designation.

The countryside is bursting with archaeology, which many people may pass unknowingly while venturing out into the rolling landscape. Clues such as bumps in fields can be signs of a past settlement.

The Lincolnshire Wolds are home to over 100 Deserted or Shrunken Medieval Villages, one of the highest concentrations in the country.

Flint hand axes have been found at Welton le Wold showing that early humans inhabited the landscape over 300,000 years ago. Stone tools turned up by the plough are evidence of hunter-gatherer people living in the Lincolnshire Wolds between 10,000 to 6,000 years ago.

The Lincolnshire Wolds Festival of Archaeology is organised by Down Your Wold, a partnership project between Heckington-based charity Heritage Lincolnshire and Lincolnshire Wolds Countryside Service.

Thanks to Heritage Lottery Funding the project has coordinated events and activities to inspire people to discover more about this fascinating landscape.

Festival highlights include: A launch event at Spilsby Franklin Hall on Saturday 11th July where renowned archaeologist Dr Kevin Leahy will talk about pre-history in Lincolnshire.

English Heritage expert Tim Allan will speak on Monday 13th July about the national importance of the archaeology of the Lincolnshire Wolds.

Nearby Gunby Hall and Gardens is also offering free entry and Deserted Medieval Village tours on Sunday 19th July as the attraction celebrates its archaeology day.

More events will be announced shortly on www.down-your-wold.co.uk/events.

Archaeology enthusiasts are invited to become involved with Layers of History, an initiative lead by Heritage Lincolnshire. Volunteers can learn how to investigate, record and interpret Lincolnshire’s landscapes.


2015 marks a milestone year for one of Spilsby best-known companies. Tong Peal Engineering, a leading designer and manufacturer of grading and handling equipment for the vegetable industry is celebrating its 85th anniversary.

The family-run business – which has a turnover of about £13 million a year and which employs 140 people – has grown to export to more than twenty countries around the world.

It all started with an ironmonger’s shop in the town, which was run by Edmund Jackson Tong and his sons Ken and Geoff. During the 1930s, the company diversified into making simple equipment for local farmers. That side of the business flourished and went on to become independent from the ironmonger’s and had to move into bigger premises.

In the 1980s, there was further expansion, thanks to the influence of Ken Tong’s son Charles, who still runs the company. He realised that increased specialisation in potato production, along with changes in the way the crop is marketed, was creating a demand for more sophisticated machinery, with a bigger capacity for crops. That sparked the launch of The Caretaker machine – and the latest version was unveiled this year.

But whilst Tong Peal’s range of agricultural products has diversified significantly over the years, it has also snapped up the opportunity to expand into the waste management market and now provides conveying and sorting equipment for major recycling customers, including Next and the Lindum Group.

Charles Tong said: “I’m extremely proud that Tong Peal has reached this landmark anniversary. A major key to our longevity is ensuring we are meeting the changing needs of the agricultural industry, providing the right machinery for the right jobs at the right time.

“Our investment in research and development and team of expert engineers has allowed us to create market-leading equipment that incorporates the latest technology to ensure our products improve efficiency and throughput for our customers.”

Charles’ son Edward, who joined the company in 2003, will be taking over as managing director later this year.

Champagne Wedding & Event Hire is a new Spilsby based business set up by Sally Bush to provide “Luxurious, yet affordable finishing touches to make your day complete.”

Anything from cake stands, post boxes and table centrepieces, to a stunning Rolls Royce Silver Cloud III and double-decker London bus, Champagne Wedding & Event Hire provides Lincolnshire the chance to hire it all and more at a reasonable cost.

The most popular items include a pair of elegant ivory thrones for the bride and groom to enjoy their wedding breakfast in style, lifesize illuminating ‘Mr & Mrs’ letters for that unique photo opportunity, a large Ferrero Rocher Heart Stand and a trio of giant garden games to help keep both little and big guests amused.

Champagne Wedding & Event Hire offer generous discounts on multiple items hired and welcome the opportunity to purchase any new, sought after items so please do get in touch to discuss your requirements.

Manor Farm, East Keal, Spilsby, Lincs PE23 4AS, Tel: 07775 601645, Email: champagneweddinghire@outlook.com www.champagneweddinghire.co.uk

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