Continuing to build on a rich heritage

Architectural landmarks and the natural environment are the focus of recent projects to rejuvenate parts of Grantham and showcase more of what this town with a wide-ranging history has to offer. By Kate Chapman.

With its mix of national and independent retailers plus a whole host of cafés, restaurants and places to stay, Grantham really does have something for everyone.

The town has come a long way from its humble beginnings, when it began life as a small Saxon village that went on to grow into a thriving market town during the 11th century. Grantham was recognised in the Domesday Book in 1086 with a recorded population of 183 households and in the Middle Ages it was successful in the wool and leather trade. More recently the UK’s first running diesel engine was made there in 1892, followed by the first tractor in 1896.

Today, the town which straddles the River Witham and the London to Edinburgh East Coast Main Line, is home to a population of more than 40,000.

It has its place in the history books as the birthplace of Britain’s first female prime minister, Margaret Thatcher – the longest serving prime minister of the 20th century (1979 to 2000). Grantham was also home to another pioneering female – Edith Smith, the first woman police officer to be given full powers of arrest, and both their stories are told in Grantham Museum.

Sir Isaac Newton, the founding father of modern science was educated at King’s School in Brook Street too. His birthplace Woolsthorpe Manor, in nearby Woolsthorpe, is among a long list of world class heritage sites and attractions in the town and surrounding area, which also include Belton House, Belvoir Castle and the 13th-century St Wulfram’s Church – a Grade I Listed cathedral-like medieval parish church, which towers over the town and was described by Simon Jenkins as ‘the finest steeple in England’.

And now another of the town’s historic landmarks is preparing to take centre stage as it undergoes an exciting renovation and repair project.

Westgate Hall, a Grade II Listed building, is set to be transformed into a high-end restaurant, with vital works being made possible thanks to a £300,000 grant through the Grantham High Street Heritage Action Zone programme, funded by Historic England and South Kesteven District Council.

The funding will provide for both urgent repairs and necessary improvements to bring the former corn exchange back into use. The remaining repair costs will be funded by the property owner, while the new tenant will support financing new décor, fixtures and fittings.

Restaurateur Ade Adeshina, who has previously worked for top chefs including Marcus Wareing and Gordon Ramsay, is behind the exciting project and is hoping to create a new destination eatery along the lines of his successful fine dining restaurant The Chubby Castor, in Peterborough. His current venture has already been recommended in the prestigious Michelin Guide and received two AA Rosettes.

Grantham’s new 70-seater venue will include a large, private dining room, a cocktail bar, lounge and open kitchens. It is being designed to be respectful of the historic building, with minimal alterations.

Once open, the new business will create 30 jobs and serve as a destination venue for Grantham, by attracting more people to the area, supporting the visitor economy and enhancing the town centre’s evening and night-time economy.

“It has always been my plan to open a second restaurant,” explained chef Ade.

“We spotted Westgate Hall almost by accident when we decided to drive into the town centre one day – and thought what a terrific building it is and such a shame that it wasn’t being put to good use.

“I am originally from East London and it’s easy to draw similarities between the regeneration of that part of the capital and what is now happening in Grantham.

“The regeneration of Westgate Hall will be at the forefront of that investment in the town, and I am excited about our plans.”

SKDC Leader, Councillor Kelham Cooke, said preserving historic buildings is vital to understanding South Kesteven’s heritage and an environmentally responsible practice.

“Westgate Hall is of both architectural and historical interest, which has regrettably deteriorated over the years. We are fortunate to be in a position to help support the preservation of this landmark building,” he added.

“We have been in long conversations with the owner and know the new tenant is prepared to invest in this venue, which will undergo work from later this year for opening in the first part of 2024.

“It was recognised the building in its current condition was an eyesore in that part of the town, with a disproportionately negative impact on Grantham. Restoration of this building will act as a catalyst for regeneration in the area.

“South Kesteven District Council has a vision to be the best district in which to live, work and visit and as we deliver on those priorities, residents and businesses can expect to benefit from continued growth.

“Once lost, our district’s heritage is impossible to replace, so we take seriously our responsibility to preserve and enhance what we have here.”

Grant support for the project is for a maximum £300,000 and will fund structural work, repairs to the floors and ceilings, masonry renovation and safety work, including making the building watertight and reinstating the majestic octagonal skylight windows to their former glory, having been boarded up and painted by the previous tenant.

DISCOVER CHRISTMAS – DISCOVER IT DOWNTOWN
Downtown, Lincolnshire’s favourite department store, has been at the heart of festive shopping in the county for more than two centuries.

Now is the perfect time to discover Downtown’s 2022 Christmas shop. It is open and stocked with inspirational decorative schemes including the new ‘Christmas Wishes’; lustrous artificial trees, baubles and lights as well as this season’s most stylish colourways to refresh the decor in your home this year.

If you’re looking for gift inspiration then a browse through the perfumery is the starting point, for that special person. Favourites include Perfect by Marc Jacobs, Flora by Gucci and iconic fragrance, J’adore Eau de Parfum by the House of Dior.

Explore the toy department bursting with leading brands such as Lego and Our Generation Dolls to thrill an excited youngster or discover the Food Halls and their many, locally produced luxury food treats which are sure to please even the trickiest person on your list.

If you are an expert Christmas planner you will love shopping the exceptional range of products all under one roof, including gifts for your favourite pet, kitchen accessories for enthusiastic bakers and gadgets for the gardener in the family.

When you need to sit back and catch your breath, visit one of the Downtown Cafés for a barista coffee, a light snack or sweet treat. There is a choice of seating in which to sink and check through your list one more time. Just a couple more purchases and you will discover Christmas giving is all sewn up!

RIVERCARE
‘Rescuing our rivers, saving our seas’, is the motto of RiverCare Grantham, which has carried out its 115th clean-up along the town’s waterways and surrounding areas.

As well as tidying the River Witham and its weirs, volunteers are also involved in other projects designed to protect, improve and conserve the area’s watercourses.

RiverCare Grantham was set up in 2004, when resident John Knowles and a handful of others joined forces to remove a mattress and other rubbish dumped in the weirs. Since then, the group has grown in size and now clears up to three-quarters of a tonne of rubbish annually.

“We have a large age range – volunteers from about five upwards, children who are at primary school, who come along with their parents, people in their 20s and those who are older,” explains Ian Simmons who co-leads the group with David Martin.

“We’ve all got similar outlooks – we all want the place to be kept safe, clean and suitable for the future generations.

“We usually split ourselves into three teams of around six or so. Another member, Gary Harden, has an Indian canoe, which acts as an aquatic skip, and he is able to reach all the places the rest of us can’t.

“We tidy the neighbouring streets too. If we don’t take that rubbish away it will end up in the river and then the sea. Things like cigarette butts are terrible as they contain microplastics.”

RiverCare Beach Care (East Anglia) is a Keep Britain Tidy project supported by Anglian Water, designed to help community groups litter-pick, undertake citizen science projects and act as guardians of their local watercourse or beach.

South Kesteven District Council helps with the removal of rubbish, which over the years has included wheels, fridge freezers, engine blocks and numerous dinks bottles, cans and other rubbish. Ian says the group has a core of 25 members, who regularly meet to look after a 1.8-mile stretch of river from Bridge End Road to Harrowby Weir, along with 25 others who also help out.

In addition, members measure phosphate and nitrate levels at nine sites as part of a Lincolnshire Rivers Trust project, which feeds the data into national and global websites. The group has also worked with the Environment Agency too.

“The river is in relatively good health, thanks to the work that’s been done in the past 17 years,” Ian adds. “Rescuing our rivers, saving our seas is really what we’re doing. It’s our aim to preserve the waterways for future generations and we’re always looking for new people to get involved and help out.”

To find out more about the work of RiverCare Grantham search rivercaregrantham on Facebook or visit rivercare.org.uk to find out more about similar groups in the county and beyond.

GRANTHAM OPERATIC SOCIETY
Members of Grantham Operatic Society (GOS) can’t wait to start rehearsing their next musical – Me and My Girl – which they will showcase next spring. The award-winning group, now in its 65th year, was forced to take a break during the pandemic, but members were thrilled to be back on stage performing the Gershwin musical Crazy For You earlier this year. Now they are preparing to start rehearsals for their latest musical comedy, which they will perform at the Guildhall Arts Centre in April 2023.

A special launch night was held at the start of the month for those interested in joining the group, and GOS chairman Elaine Bishop says any other over 16s who would like to get involved are still welcome to get in touch.

“We’ve got a group of around 25-35 people, but that changes year on year, as people move away, and other things happen. But we’re always keen to hear from any singers, dancers and actors who might like to be involved. Some of the principal roles have already been cast but there are still places in the chorus and on the backstage and front of house side.”

GOS members hope Me and My Girl, which originates from the 1930s, will appeal to the whole family and includes the well-known songs ‘Lambeth Walk’, ‘The Sun Has Got His Hat On’, ‘Me and My Girl’ and ‘Leaning on a Lamp Post’.

“I first joined this society when I was 16,” adds Elaine, a professional singing teacher,

“I’ve been away and rejoined again in 2019, so it feels like I’ve come full circle. It’s a great group. The society feels like a family to us – we all look out for each other.

“We have a great production team in Sam Kerby, Adam Bishop and Heidi Clayton and are really looking forward to putting on Me and My Girl, it’s going to be so much fun to rehearse.”

To find out more you can contact the group via its Facebook page at: GranthamOperaticSociety or email granthamoperatics@gmail.com

GOS is hosting a Come and Sing Pirates of Penzance session on 29th October at Christchurch, Finkin Street, where everyone is welcome. See the Facebook page for more information.

AUCTIONING TREASURES AND MORE AT GOLDING YOUNG
As a well established family owned business since 1864, Golding Young offers friendly expertise in auctioneering and valuation with salerooms in Grantham, Bourne and Lincoln, providing an unrivalled five-star service for buyers and sellers alike.

Situated in Old Wharf Road, close to Grantham’s town centre, this highly regarded auction house started life in the town in 1900 and has remained on its current site for nearly all of its life.

Regulated by the RICS, Golding Young holds monthly Collective Sales across its three Lincolnshire salerooms in which a core section is dedicated to antiques and collectables, as well as specialist sales of Asian art, fine art, toys and automobilia several times a year.

In 2019, Golding Young became the first saleroom in the area to host its own online bidding platform with ‘GY-Live’.

The Grantham saleroom is renowned for its professional, approachable and dedicated team of experts who have contributed to Golding Young becoming firmly established as a household name with many appearances on local radio and national television.

For more information visit www.goldingyoung.com

ACHIEVE EXCELLENCE AT GRANTHAM PREPARATORY INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL
“Grantham Preparatory International School is a non-denominational independent day school for both boys and girls aged 3-11. We foster academic, musical, and sporting excellence by creating a friendly learning environment and using traditional teaching methods backed up by our dedicated and experienced teaching staff.

“Here at Grantham Prep., we take pride in our outstanding academic reputation, ensuring that we provide the highest level of tuition to pupils of all abilities. The strict limitation on class size at the school guarantees that all children receive individual attention so they can reach their full potential in all aspects of school life. With the guidance and support offered, all children will be prepared for the transition to Secondary School by the end of their time here at Grantham Prep., including Public School entrance exams and Grammar School selection exams.

“At Grantham Prep. we have a unique Early Years Unit with a stimulating indoor and outdoor environment for the children to access all year.

“We also offer an extensive range of extracurricular activities after school hours to supplement learning. Children can strengthen muscles, develop new skills, and face new challenges while fostering a love for learning outside of the classroom.”

To learn more, please visit the website: https://tgps.co.uk/

FESTIVE FUN AT THE MARCH HARE TEA ROOMS
Based in the picturesque market square of Corby Glen, near Grantham, the March Hare Tea Rooms, which is famed for its delicious breakfast and lunch menus, plus afternoon teas, is inviting customers to enjoy the countdown to the festive season with a selection of seasonal events.

On Thursday 17th November a special Christmas Shopping evening has been organised, with a variety of stalls featuring gift ideas from local artists and craftspeople, with home-made Christmas cakes and seasonal traybakes created by owner Amy Roberts and her talented team.

Don’t miss the Christmas Wreathmaking evenings on 29th November and 6th December, which take place from 6pm to 8pm. Tickets cost just £30 and includes a selection of foliage, oasis and ribbon, so just bring along your gloves and secateurs and enjoy a fun and festive evening set to a background of carols.

The March Hare Tea Rooms, which also caters for vegetarian, gluten free and vegan-friendly requirements, is open seven days a week from 9am to 3.30pm.

For more information visit www.marchharecorbyglen.co.uk

Photographs: Mick Fox



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