Best kept Caistor
A North Lincolnshire market town is eager to tempt more people to discover its charms and enjoy the warm welcome it offers to both visitors and locals.
Wolds gem Caistor has already been named best small market town in the Community Lincs-run Best Kept Village and Small Towns competition for three years on the trot and, as we went to print, fingers were firmly crossed for success again this time around. The results will be announced this month.
So what is so special about Caistor and why is it worth discovering? Take your pick. Whether you want to go walking, admire the best in floral displays, visit independent traders, try out a new eaterie or simply steep yourself in history, there’s something to suit everyone.
Perhaps you would prefer to take in the town’s interesting architecture on foot or go for a ramble in the nearby countryside. Caistor is surrounded by wonderful scenery. And there are lots of events to enjoy too.
Over the past few years Caistor has been making the headlines, thanks to projects such as the £2 million Town Heritage Initiative, which has funded regeneration work. The BIG Lottery funded Village SOS scheme has enabled a former chapel to be transformed into Caistor Arts and Heritage Centre.
Caistor has also been given the opportunity to shape its future by preparing its own Neighbourhood Plan. The town council is working with the Plan Steering Group to progress this project.
It is against this backdrop that Town Clerk Helen Pitman, Jo Hodson – who runs the popular wine bar and restaurant The Settlement – and advertising and design specialist, Lynda Caine are encouraging members of the community to go along to a meeting at The Settlement on 25th September, to explore ways in which Caistor can attract more shoppers and visitors.
Mrs Pitman said: “We want to become recognised as the gateway to the North Wolds. We are inviting people who like what we have here to work together to promote this area further afield.
“Through the Town Heritage Initiative we won Government funding to regenerate the Market Place three or four years ago. The Arts and Heritage Centre was created out of the former primitive Methodist chapel, thanks to Lottery Funding and the Village SOS Scheme, which gave us about £300,000.
“We have consulted with the community over the Neighbourhood Plan, identified areas for future development and we are now drafting up policies.”
Prior to this whirl of activity, Caistor had lost some of its services and facilities. Now it is starting to benefit from the changes and new investments, including those made by recent business arrivals.
Jo Hodson and husband Mark, together with business partner Martin Merrigan, saw the opportunity to renovate their Market Place premises, which had formerly been home to a printers and newsagents, but which had been empty for ten years.
The result is The Settlement, a wine bar and restaurant which can seat sixty people.
After having a tenant working there for a year, Jo and another business partner, chef David Kelly, began running the business themselves in March.
“We offer lunches and evening meals from Tuesdays to Saturdays and also serve Sunday lunch. We are also able to host private parties. Everything is going very well and we have taken on a second sous chef,” said Mrs Hodson.
“The community meeting, which we are hosting on 25th September, is aimed at gauging information as to how we, as a community, might promote Caistor to the wider world.”
Changes which have taken place in the town in recent years include Lincolnshire Co-operative’s move from a Grade Two-listed building in the Market Square to the High Street. The Society created a store and car parking on the site of the former Talbot Inn, preserving part of the building in the process.
The town and surrounding villages are also served by a Montessori School as well as Caistor Grammar and The Yarborough Schools (both academies) and Caistor CofE and Methodist Primary.
Caistor’s wealth of family businesses includes Sandhams Wine Merchants, Systematic Print Management, the Caistor Window Company and Whitegate House Kindergarten.
Saturday is Caistor’s traditional market day, but the handful of stallholders is boosted on the second Saturday of every month when the town welcomes the popular Farmers’ Market, which bring in another fifteen to twenty stalls, bringing in shoppers from miles around.
“We have seen an uplift in prospects with more people coming in to buy from our farmers’ markets and we want to capture all this enthusiasm and not let it go,” added Mrs Hodson.
Lynda Caine, a specialist in advertising and design, works with her husband Stuart, who is a copywriter.
“After ten years working away, I came back to the area to settle down and have a family and I love it. We do everything from brochures to business cards, posters, campaigns and web design.
“There are a lot of people doing some very interesting ventures. We feel we are good at what we do and we like to think we don’t charge people the earth. It is very rewarding working for local people,” said Mrs Caine.
“I think there are a lot of people who want to help each other and to share their experience and help others to get on the ladder and generate rural jobs. We don’t want to lose our young people.”
Martin Sizer and his partner, Kaye Lee have been at the helm of Caistor Post Office for the past four years. Mr Sizer, who formerly lived a few doors away, said that when the Post Office came up for sale it looked very busy. Buying it appealed and it seemed to be a good way of becoming part of a town with a fantastic community spirit and lots of different interest groups.
“As the post office has lost various services, due to the advancement of technology, we have looked to diversify. For instance, we have introduced greetings cards from more than twenty different suppliers, so there is something for everyone from cheaper cards to luxury designs.
“We have recently expanded into selling celebration helium balloons for occasions such as anniversaries and weddings and we have developed a new website, plus I also provide an outreach post office service to Tealby, Glentham and North Kelsey,” said Mr Sizer.
“We have also applied for main post office status, which would allow us to offer enhanced services and increase our opening hours. We hope this will happen by the end of the year.”
One of the town’s newest arrivals, which has brought a welcome addition to the mix of shops, cafes and businesses is The Dresser of Caistor in South Street, which is the brainchild of Hayley Capstick.
She said: “I have been a wedding photographer for the past eleven years and being in that industry encouraged me to open this type of business. It was a case of finding the right premises.
“I feel that I am offering something to Caistor. The town deserves more to be put into it to attract people from further afield.”
Ms Capstick who stocks seasonal garments, from mid-market ranges upwards, along with jewellery, handbags, hats and other accessories, is keen to offer shoppers something new by changing her stock every six weeks.
“I’ve done quite a bit of advertising and also gained customers through word of mouth, which is great. I am being quite selective about what I stock and work on selling items on a fifty per cent commission basis.”
So whatever you are looking for, you could be surprised to discover how much Caistor actually offers. Another feather in its cap is the fact that the town has been awarded the Walkers are Welcome status this year and it hosted the celebrations which marked the end of the Lincolnshire Wolds Walking Festival.
Caistor’s diary is bursting at the seams with exciting events to suit everyone’s tastes.
September kicks off with The Caistor Art & Craft Festival, which takes place in the Town Hall on Saturday and Sunday, 1st and 2nd September, from 10am to 4pm. It’s a chance to view, buy and experience works of art, photography, quality crafts and plants. There’s live music and delicious refreshments too. Admission is free.
The town will also be buzzing during Caistor Heritage Weekend on 8th and 9th September.
In addition to the monthly Farmers’ Market on 8th September, people interested in combining local history with a leisurely walk, will be able to learn about the town’s heritage. As part of the Heritage Lincs Open Days Event 2012, free guided walks are planned on both the Saturday and Sunday.
‘Chairs, Clocks and Caistor Trades’ will start at 10am on both days and finish at about 11.30am. they will be followed by ‘A Fascinating trail through Old Caistor’ at 2pm. Both walks start at the Lion in the Market Place.
Sunday afternoon (9th September) will see the annual Proms in the Park event, when the Market Rasen RPC Silver Band will entertain the crowds at South Park Street, from 3pm. This is a free event.
There will also be a flypast by The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Avro Lancaster and The Hawker Hurricane, weather permitting.
If you’ve got a sweet tooth why not go along to The Pudding Club @ 28 (Arts & Heritage Centre) on Saturday, 15th September.
There’s a chance to enjoy a light main course, then indulge yourself with four delicious homemade puddings, and hear an after-dinner speaker. Cost £20 per head.
For booking details contact Caistor Arts & Heritage Centre, 28 Plough Hill, Caistor on (01472) 851605.
The Caistor In Bloom Awards Ceremony will take place on 22nd September at Caistor Town Hall from 10am until noon.
When former Caistor Grammar School pupil Jordan Duckitt answered a mysterious call from the organisers of the 2012 Olympic Games and took up their invitation to go to London, he had no idea that he was about to become part of Britain’s history.
But the teenager, who had been due to go on holiday with his parents, cancelled his flight and went to the capital where he was put up in an hotel and then told to go along to the Olympic Park Stadium.
It was there that he and six other young people met top film director Danny Boyle, who masterminded the stunning opening ceremony of the multi-million pound games, and learned that they would be among the stars of the show.
“We all turned up at the Stadium, but we hadn’t a clue was happening, then Danny Boyle walked around the corner and talked about the games inspiring the future generation,” said Jordan.
“He was amazing. When he told us what we were going to do I was speechless. I didn’t believe it, no-one was expecting it, but I thought ‘wow!’”
Jordan had been nominated to be one of seven young people chosen to light the Olympic cauldron at the opening ceremony thanks to his work as chairman of the London 2012 Young Ambassador Steering Group.
The nomination came from swimmer Duncan Goodhew, who is vice chair of the Youth Sports Trust, which runs the Young Ambassadors’ programme.
And Jordan, who was thrilled to have been given such a significant role to play, is still pinching himself.
“I was told to enjoy the experience and I remember every second of it. The atmosphere and the crowds – it was electric. It is something I will remember and treasure all of my life,” he said.
And Jordan, who had to keep this all secret from his family, finally caught up with his parents on holiday in Cyprus, where he discovered they had watched him on a television in a bar.
And they weren’t the only ones because this amazing young man, who hopes to go to Edinburgh to study medicine in September also found himself being interviewed by the Cyprus press!
CAISTOR IN BLOOM
The unmissable Caistor Lion, which was re-gilded to shine brightly in honour of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, stands proudly in the Market Place surrounded by outstanding floral works.
The eyecatching displays are courtesy of Caistor in Bloom, one of sixty local community groups and a strong force within the town.
Committee member, Deborah Barker said the group, which organises local competitions each year and which scooped Gold in the large village category of the East Midlands in Bloom campaign last year, has come a long way in a short space of time.
“We set out on our miraculous journey in May 2009. At our inaugural meeting we thought a few townsfolk would turn out for the curiosity factor,” she said. “But we were overwhelmed by the support, with forty to fifty people cramming the Boardroom at the town’s Multi-Use Centre, and overflowing into the street.
“Caistor has been incredibly fortunate to receive generous funding from major businesses in the town as well as the Town Council, coupled with many private donations, all of which has gave the group a positive approach to achieving our Gold Award last year.”
John Clark of Carr Lane Nurseries in Stallingborough is a supplier to Caistor in Bloom.
“We became involved with the Caistor in Bloom project as the group was looking for a local nursery to supply some of the bedding plants and plant some of the baskets and planters in the town,” he said. “Steve Penny from Waltham Herbs recommended us as we had experience in supplying baskets and plants for Immingham in Bloom.”
A Halifax report states that towns and villages which do well in Bloom/BKV competitions find this helps to push up the value of houses in the area by ten per cent.