Blooming marvellous

Words by:
Melanie Burton
Featured in:
January 2018

Following on from the success of being shortlisted as a finalist in the Great British High Street competition, the north Lincolnshire town of Brigg hasn’t rested on its laurels.
Much work has been done in the town to improve the appearance and visitor experience in a bid to attract more visitors and the efforts are paying off with a string of successes.

Brigg Town Council clerk Dinah Lilley, who has been in post for five months, said the highlights of 2017 were the council’s Brigg in Bloom project, which resulted in success in the East Midlands in Bloom competition, and the Best Kept Village competition organised by the Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE).

“Brigg in Bloom spans the age groups. There is a 20-year-old involved and also people in their 80s and they are always looking for volunteers to take part,” she said.

“We entered the East Midlands in Bloom competition and were awarded a Certificate of Achievement in the Small Town category and we were highly commended in CPRE’s Best Kept Village competition also in the small town category.”

The project was supported by North Lincolnshire Council which awarded the town council £5,000 from its Community Grant Funding pot. The money was used to buy and install planters throughout Brigg for the summer.

Mayor of Brigg, Councillor Sharon Riggall, said: “It was the first year supporting Brigg in Bloom and we received the support of a number of volunteers in the town to help plant and maintain the new planters and borders.”

The East Midlands in Bloom welcomed 57 village, town and city Bloom groups into the 2017 competition from across the six counties.

Jeff Bates, chairman of East Midlands in Bloom said: “The awards are given in recognition of all the hard work, time and dedication to enrich the environment where we all live. We are also very grateful for the support from businesses which enables us to continue each year.”

Preparations are already underway for Brigg in Bloom 2018.

Letters requesting sponsorship have been sent to local businesses and a grant application has been completed for funding from North Lincolnshire Council’s ‘In Bloom’ initiative.

The Brigg in Bloom Committee has also agreed to two additional octagonal planters to be purchased for Bigby Street and two new sets of liners for the planters along the riverbank.

Brigg is an historic market town, having been granted a formal charter for a weekly market and yearly fair back in 1205 and was subsequently reconfirmed in 1235

A traditional market is held on Thursdays and Saturdays and a farmers’ market is also held on the fourth Saturday of the month selling local produce from pork and organic vegetables to ostrich meat and locally produced condiments.

Artisan breads baked in a nearby mill using traditional French bread making techniques are also available, as is local cheese including the Lincolnshire Poacher vintage.

“We are a small market town and that is the key thing for us,” said the clerk.

“Our farmers’ market is nationally recognised and takes place on the fourth Saturday of the month. It is really popular and people come from all over the country for that.”

Brigg has a great selection of independent shops offering a choice of gifts, fashion, homewares and daily essentials as well as great value and friendly customer service.

In 2011 Brigg Town Business Partnership was set up to support the local independent traders in the town and it is going from strength to strength.

Chairman Deb Dunderdale, who took over the reins at the beginning of the year, said the partnership had been busy.

“The partnership had a very busy year in 2017,” she said. “We had the pump blessing with lots of groups taking part and we have been working with the Friends of Brigg line to promote the railway line and Visit Brigg.

“We also helped in the first Brigg in Bloom project and the Arches project with Brigg Town Council.

“December was very busy, with our first Festival of Trees taking place with the help of St John’s Church, Posada (Mary and Joseph travelling around the businesses and homes of Brigg), the Pop-up Choir from Lincoln, Christmas Windows and Children’s Trail.”

Brigg Town Business Partnership revived the tradition of blessing the public water pumps as part of the celebrations to mark 60 years since Queen Elizabeth II was crowned in 1953. The pumps are located on Bridge Street, near the County Bridge, and beside Wetherspoon’s White Horse pub, on Grammar School Road South.

The partnership has also worked hard to promote shopping in Brigg and the Brigg railway station and the iconic line between Sheffield and Cleethorpes, via Brigg, Kirton Lindsey, Barnetby, Gainsborough and Retford.

“We worked with the Friends of Brigg Line to produce Visit Brigg posters and banners to go up at train stations on the Brigg line to promote the line and help attract visitors to the town,” said Deb.

The partnership’s aim is to bring more shoppers to town on the Saturdays-only train service.

Looking ahead to 2018, the business partnership has a number of events and initiatives already lined up including Brigg Live Arts Fest in May, the pump blessing ceremony and Maypole.

“Looking forward to this year though, we have had a bit of a knock with Greggs and NatWest closing. I feel very optimistic about Brigg and the partnership will be working hard to promote the town and businesses again in 2018, so it still has a lot going for it.

“Hopefully we will be entering the Great British High Street competition again and we are planning to hold the Briggstock acoustic festival subject to getting help with booking groups and music,” Deb said.

The partnership organised the first event in 2012 to promote trade in the town and put the community at the heart of the high street.

Brigg old town is centred on the marketplace and the adjoining streets of Bridge Street, Wrawby Street and Bigby Street,

A significant number of buildings in the town centre date to the late 1700s or early 1800s and are listed with the old town as a whole designated as a conservation area.

The marketplace itself is dominated by the Buttercross and the Angel, a former coaching inn with an early mock Tudor façade.

Last year a public consultation was carried out in the Buttercross over plans to add metal arches to the courtyard entrances in Brigg town centre as a guide for visitors and shoppers.

Work still needs to be done on the project including assessing the final cost, and gaining alternative funding for the scheme was being looked at.

The Buttercross was built in 1817 by the Elwes family to provide a meeting place for local organisations; the stone paved ground floor was used as a market for the sale of butter, eggs and poultry.

It was originally open to the elements but the ground floor was closed in when it was refurbished as part of the Brigg regeneration scheme in 1991.

With the Christmas and New Year festivities coming to an end, the communities of Brigg turn their thoughts to more sombre matters as January is the month that the Holocaust Memorial Service and exhibition takes place.

The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT) is the charity which promotes and supports Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD).

This simple ceremony provides the opportunity for reflection regarding the atrocities of war and genocide.

A candle is lit, and ten stones are laid in memory of the 10 million Jews who perished at the hands of the Nazis in the Second World War.

No invitation necessary and everyone is welcome to attend the ceremony, which takes place on 28th January in the Courtyard Café in the Angel.

As well as the memorial service there is also the Holocaust Memorial annual exhibition which runs from 16th to 30th January in the Angel Suite Rotunda.

A Book of Remembrance will be open for visitors to record their thoughts and this year’s theme is ‘How can life go on?’

Brigg has a range of independent and niche businesses which attract visitors from far and wide.

One in particular is O’Brien’s Opticians which has been servicing the town for nearly 29 years.

Director & senior optometrist Sheeraz Janjua was recently awarded the degree of Doctor of Optometry from Aston University for his research into dry eye syndrome.

Doctor Janjua is one of only 25 optometrists in the UK with this qualification.

O’Brien’s has been providing eyecare, quality eyewear in Brigg since 1979, and Doctor Janjua has been at the helm since 2003.

He leads a small team of optometrists and long-standing optical assistants.

New services have been introduced including dry eye and blepharitis appointments and treatment plans in a practice which already uses a state-of-the-art examination suite with optometric eye testing software, the same as that used at the prestigious Moorfields Eye Hospital and Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital.

The practice also offers free home eye tests involving all the usual staff at the practice and patients are also able to choose from the same frames and lenses that are available at the shop.

O’Brien’s is situated in the Wrawby Street area at the heart of Brigg town centre.

“The aim is to create a warm and welcoming environment within the traditionally furnished surroundings,” Doctor Janjua said.

“Emphasis is placed on personal service, correctly fitted frames and accurately dispensed ophthalmic lenses.

“In a market dominated by larger optical groups here is a practice dedicated to providing patients with a reassuring, individual and professional service.”

Doctor Janjua says that the prescribing and dispensing of spectacles are closely linked and advises that it is in a patient’s best interest to have their spectacles dispensed where they had their eyes examined.

“It is more difficult to resolve problems you may have with your spectacles when prescribing and supply are separated,” he said.

O’Brien’s is open Monday to Saturdays and on-street parking is available in the surrounding streets.

The Steel Rooms was founded in 2012 by Julie Steel and her family, who have a passion for art and creativity. Since that time The Steel Rooms has evolved into a concept incorporating a café, art gallery, gift shop, bespoke framing service and events hub.

The gift shop now offers greeting cards and prints designed and drawn by the team.

In the café, guests can find a range of freshly prepared food, with plenty of choices for vegetarians, gluten and dairy free options.

The art gallery has a wide variety of exhibitions, and the team have recently launched a new natural artists programme.

Throughout the year there are many different workshops for young and old alike. Visit

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