All change at Alford
This market town has plenty to offer with a mix of shopping and interesting attractions. It is also home to a wealth of creative talent, as Glynis Fox finds.
Alford is a market town with a unique ambience which offers people an extra incentive to stop and take a closer look – free parking!
It’s easy to simply see this destination as a place to drive through on your way to and from the Lincolnshire Coast, but it has lots of shops which stock “something different”, as well as those which concentrate on providing the essentials.
destination, thanks to the determination of new entrepreneurs and the fact that local attractions are to benefit from a share of £8 million in Levelling Up funds.
In the Market Place you will find a variety of businesses, from florists to hairdressers, cafés, craft ventures, an award-winning fish and chip shop and much more.
As we went to press, the town’s former Cooplands outlet was getting ready to welcome old and new customers, thanks to an entrepreneurial move by a former member of staff.
Kimmy Walker-Harris and her colleagues were shocked and disappointed when they learned the bakery was closing its doors earlier this year but, undaunted, she approached the property’s landlord and said she wanted to launch her own business there.
“It was a shock when I returned from holiday to learn we were about to lose our jobs and everyone started thinking about future employment. So I was delighted when I was able to rent the premises, rebrand [as] Kimmy’s Bakery and re-employ my old colleagues,” said Kimmy.
She has bravely used her savings to fund her new venture, which is selling similar products as previously, with a changing selection of cakes. Kimmy’s team includes her former colleagues and her daughter Fenella.
The Blue Shop on The Corner (Market Place) provides plenty of temptation for people who love browsing shops where they never know what treasure they will find. Window displays reveal this is a real Aladdin’s Cave stuffed with collectables, pottery, clothing, artworks and more.
been trading for decades and which is packed with everything from tools to hardware, paint and useful gadgets for the home.
If you fancy dining out, want to stay in the town or are looking for a venue for a function, The Windmill Hotel in the Market Place could fit the bill. The original Grade II-listed building dates back to the 18th century, is associated with the radical, socialist thinker Thomas Paine and carries a blue plaque featuring his name.
In recent months, the hotel has been extended and undergone major refurbishment work, with more to come later this year.
A spokesperson said: “The hotel has been extended into the former Lloyds Bank and we have a revamped bar, a new restaurant and pool room. The former restaurant is under development and will become a private function facility.
“On the first floor we have seven letting rooms and two, two-bedroomed apartments, which have also been refurbished. There is more work to be done, including a revamp of four rooms on our top floor and work to an outside courtyard.”
Fancy a serving of delicious fish and chips? Then why not pop in and see Robert Hawse and his staff at The Jolly Friar? Robert has been at the helm for 23 years and is extremely proud that it was awarded a 5-star food hygiene and food safety rating this summer. In fact, it has achieved top marks every year he has owned the business.
Alford has a selection of cafés and one that has stood the test of time is Angelene’s Patisserie, which is owned by Angelene Handley and is now in its 24th year!
Ten years ago it was operating as a takeaway, then the landlord gave her access to the cellar, allowing for storage. Angelene was then able to put tables and chairs inside the café and add many more tasty items to her menu.
The popular café attracts regulars and visitors, and Angelene’s team includes her daughter, two granddaughters and three other part-timers.
CRAFTS AND MORE
Inshore Creations on the High Street, which is run by mother-and-daughter team Andrea Warboys and Nettie Forsyth, is absolutely packed with creative treats and gifts, so give yourself plenty of time to browse.
This is a fascinating shop, where this creative pair – who also sell at craft fairs – reveal their ingenuity and expertise when it comes to giving used materials a fresh lease of life.
Eco-minded Andrea and Nettie create exciting new pieces from reclaimed jewellery, turn good quality discarded denim and other fabrics into eye-catching new garments, make tactile textile items to help people with dementia, handcraft cushions, produce lovely drawings and paintings and even have a special range of teabags.
Not only is their shop full of their own unique items, they have also found space to promote other artisans, by regularly hosting a table of different visiting creators’ work – so shoppers can actually buy from two ventures in one go!
If you love knitting and crocheting, you won’t want to leave Alford before dipping into The Wool Factory, but do allow yourself plenty of time! If you haven’t visited before, you will be dazzled by the sheer volume of wools, knitting needles, crochet hooks and other essential items on offer.
Spokesperson Sue Cons said: “We attract shoppers from all over the county and beyond, including holidaymakers on their way to and from the coast.
“We offer a monthly subscription service whereby people can enjoy getting regular kits. The release of the exciting new Barbie film has also led us to offer Barbie kits, complete with needles, a pattern and wool.”
If you ever take a walk around Alford and find yourself admiring the latest quirky knitted toppers on the town’s post-boxes, or bollards in the Market Square, you may be curious to know who has been so busy injecting extra splashes of colour into the streetscape.
Nannas – who didn’t share their names, but those in the know, know who they are!
There’s more wonderful work to come from them as well – look out for a fabulous 17-hands-high poppy-covered horse, which will be popping up in front of St Wilfrid’s Church to mark Remembrance Day in November!
FUNDING BOOST FOR ATTRACTIONS
Two of Alford’s best-loved attractions are to benefit from major facelifts, thanks to significant injections of Government cash.
East Lindsey District Council’s (ELDC) successful bid for Levelling Up money to support ambitious regeneration schemes for the Alford Manor House and Alford Windmill promises to help transform both culturally significant sites, enhance their usage and attract more visitors.
Levelling Up Round 2 money is destined to make a real difference – with £2.05 million awarded to Alford Manor House and £1.1m secured for Alford Windmill, in addition to the funding from Lincolnshire County Council for the windmill repairs (The Levelling Up funds are part of a triple dose of funding totalling £8m,
Alford Manor House – understood to be the country’s largest thatched manor house, with an adjacent Museum of Rural Life and walled gardens – will use its funding to create a permanent function room to replace the marquee with an adjoining new kitchen and bar, a workshop for volunteers in the Museum of Rural Life and essential repairs and improvements to the House. The changes will also create space for better displays across the site.
Alford Windmill – which is currently on the Heritage at Risk register – is also poised for brighter times. Alford Trust chairman Dennis Bell said the Lincolnshire County Council-owned mill will have its cap and sail replaced, returning it to full working order, but most of its Levelling Up money will be used to convert the Miller’s Cottage into a holiday let. A new café and bakery will be built in the mill car park and there will be a millwright museum.
People will ultimately be able to learn more about the milling of local grain and the flour produced will be used in the bakery to make bread which visitors can buy.
ELDC Portfolio Holder for Market Towns & Rural Economy Councillor, Adam Grist said: “This funding will truly be transformational for these heritage sites and the communities they support.
“Securing this funding was a great day for the community groups and a celebration of partnership working. There are so many hardworking people committed to these cultural facilities and I am so delighted that the Government has recognised this and is supporting us to help keep them thriving.”
Alford and District Civic Trust Chairman Richard Quantrell said: “This is an exciting opportunity to complete the work of making the Manor House a sustainable first class visitor attraction of which Alford can be proud. We are grateful to the Government and East Lindsey District Council for their support in helping us to achieve this aim.”
The Alford Manor House and Museum of Rural Life are offering free entry to LN13 postcode residents, with their new LN13 card. Holders can visit as often as they like – they simply need to take along proof of their address (e.g. a driving licence or household bill).
PARADISE FOR CREATIVES
Anyone keen to track down a special gift for a friend or relation should definitely visit the Alford Craft Market Shop, where they will find a dazzling array of irresistible goodies.
Impressed visitors who feel inspired to get creative and make something themselves also have the chance to sign up for a wide variety of day and short courses.
The popular Alford Craft Market is also taking place over the August Bank Holiday in the Alford Manor House Gardens and an on-site marquee, so make a diary note to be there on Saturday, Sunday or Monday – 26th to 28th August – and catch the action between 10am and 4pm.
The Alford Craft Market Shop is a cornucopia of colour, where shoppers will find individually produced paintings, ceramics, jewellery, cards, candles and much more.
Access to the Craft Centre, where courses take place, is through the shop. All are taught by Lincolnshire tutors. Sessions include: the chance to make a dog collar, or belt (2nd Sep); making a drum lampshade (7th Sep) and a beginners’ monthly willow weaving course (starts Tue 12th Sep).
The Alford Craft Market August Bank Holiday Festival will feature children’s storytelling, live music, Morris Dancers (Sunday), Punch & Judy Shows and The Earthbound Misfits Street Theatre stilt walkers, plus stalls.
Looking ahead to the festive season, Alford’s Christmas Spectacular Extravaganza takes place on Saturday 25th November from 12noon until 7pm. Alford Craft Market is on Saturday and Sunday, 25th and 26th November at the Corn Exchange in the Market Place from 10am.
ALFORD REMEMBERS PAINE
Political thinker Thomas Paine is recognised as one of the crucial figures in the history of the USA and its independence from Great Britain. He is even considered to have devised the name “United States of America”. He was friends with Benjamin Franklin and George Washington.
However, he also left his mark on Alford in the mid-1700s. Paine started his career as an exciseman in Grantham and two years later was transferred to Alford. He was stationed in the town as an Excise Officer from 1764 to 1765 and he had an office in the Windmill Hotel, which is now known as The Thomas Paine Suite and overlooks the main Market Place.
Paine is also famous for publishing The Rights of Man (1791) and The Age of Reason (1793).
YOUR IDEAL EVENTS VENUE
Whether you’re looking to organise a special celebration, wedding reception, conference, or recreational classes, the Alford Corn Exchange is the perfect venue to host a variety of public and private functions.
Here you will also find regular weekly events such as craft markets, antique fairs and special artistic performances popular with both locals and visitors alike.
Built in Italianate style in 1856, the stunning Grade II listed building located on the central market place recently underwent extensive restoration, including the installation of air-conditioning in addition to a number of distinguishing features, including a beautiful central lantern, a stage with lighting and wireless PA system, and a sprung dancefloor made of maple wood.
The adjacent, fully licensed Theatre Bar and café area also features a fully refurbished kitchen with full facilities for food preparation and a serving hatch to the main hall.
“Please contact us and we will help you to make a success out of your plans.”
For more information visit www.alfordcornexchange.co.uk
EVENTS, CELEBRATIONS AND EXCLUSIVE HIRE AT THE ELM TREE
Celebrate your significant life events in our stunning and exclusive surroundings. The Elm Tree offers a five-star service in a comfortable and beautiful environment. From our stately green room to our lush country garden – the house becomes yours and molds to your needs.
This venue on the outskirts of the Lincolnshire Wolds offers you the perfect backdrop for all the momentous events in your life.
Let our caring team guide you through from booking to the last goodbye with professionalism and kindness. We are there to help every step of the way.
With our fully licensed bar you can raise a toast to loved ones and enjoy The Elm Tree’s famous home-made luxury afternoon tea alongside friends and family. With adjoining rooms, your guests will have plenty of space to relax without losing each other.
our hire fee includes exclusive use for 4 hours and an extra one hour beforehand for decoration if required. All furnishings including tables, chairs, linens, glassware, crockery, and cutlery.
Exclusive Hire – £150. Afternoon Tea Buffets – £15pp. Weddings – Christenings – Wakes – Memorials –Birthdays – Anniversaries – And all other celebrations.
For more information visit www.elmtree.co.uk or email email@example.com
ARRANGING A PEACEFUL GOODBYE
Established in 1995, R Arnold Funeral Service’s compassionate team strive to support you in helping to arrange a respectful and personalised service. As experienced and dedicated funeral directors, husband and wife team Lindsay and Richard Arnold take the time to talk to each client and listen to their individual needs. As well respected members of the British Institute of Embalmers and National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors, they can offer a range of funeral plans to help cover costs.
“As one of the most rewarding services you can offer, our compassionate, approachable team take time to talk to each of our clients, looking after and guiding you every step of the way, offering guidance whatever time of day or night that you might need us.”
For more information visit www.rarnoldfuneralservice.com
Photographs: Mick Fox