Fabulously fashionable

Words by:
Glynis Fox
Featured in:
March 2013

Picturesque and inviting… if you need a dose of retail therapy or a leisurely lunch or coffee stop, you are unlikely to drive through Bawtry without parking up!
Steeped in history and conveniently close to Gainsborough, Retford and Doncaster, this charming destination exudes individuality and style and offers quality customer service.

Behind the drive to ensure that it stays that way is Bawtry Retail Association, a young group made up of representatives from a wide range of businesses, all with a determination to keep Bawtry’s fortunes flying high.

Spokeswoman, Emma Gosling said: “The Association has more than fifty members and, collectively, it gives us an opportunity to promote Bawtry as a destination town.

“We meet bi-monthly at The Crown, to network, swap notes and business tips. Members pay a small fee and we plough this money back into making the town look attractive.”

Bawtry can be described as contemporary and lively, chic and buzzy. It’s the sort of place where you can spot elegant ladies meeting for lunch, bump into the odd celebrity – who may be staying in Bawtry while performing in Doncaster – or a member of the horse-racing or polo playing fraternity.

BRA’s newly-appointed chair, Mark Bates said: “Bawtry is a great place to be and several retailers in the town created the idea of a group of business owners that would facilitate a more cohesive approach to a whole host of issues faced by the businesses.”

The Association has been heavily involved in initiatives to enhance Bawtry’s kerb appeal, with floral displays, Christmas trees and lights, but there are more ideas in the pipeline.

Mr Bates is clear about what he hopes to achieve over the coming months, with plans to tackle parking issues, increase BRA membership, introduce a taxi rank within Bawtry and also to continue to build better links between businesses.

So what are this attractive destination’s unique selling points, which make it a magnet for shoppers, diners, browsers and staying guests?

Undoubtedly, its wealth of independent shops, eateries and services businesses, is a key factor, along with the air of co-operation reflected in the way in which traders try to help each other.

Dominating the High Street is The Crown Hotel and it’s a perfect stopping off place for drinks, a meal, a short break or longer.

This four-star, 77-bedroomed venue has been providing hospitality to travellers for more than 300 years – which is perhaps unsurprising when you consider that Bawtry offers easy access to the A1, M1 and M18 and is also handy for people arriving in the UK via the nearby Robin Hood Airport.

In keeping with the demands of twenty-first-century guests, this former eighteenth-century coaching house has been extensively refurbished, to create a hotel with both rustic appeal and contemporary style. No wonder it is so popular with wedding parties, families, celebrities and conference organisers.

Doncaster Racecourse is a popular attraction in the area and hosts the famous St Leger Race every September. The Crown is a preferred partner hotel to the racecourse and in 2012 was renamed for the St Leger Week only, ‘The Triple Crown’, in honour of the racehorse Camelot, which ran in the big race on St Leger Saturday.

Hotel director, Craig Dowie said: “Leger week in Doncaster is always amazing for us. We are busy with owners, trainers, jockeys, television crews and racegoers who stay, eat and drink in our hotel.”

Bawtry is a dream destination if you love fashion, delicious dining, great gifts and beauty treatments – in fact you are pretty much spoilt for choice.

You’ll find great shopping options in South Parade, the High Street, Swan Street, Dower House Square and The Courtyard, and fabulous food and refreshments along the way.

If you are in search of top class ladieswear, designer children’s clothes, Italian cuisine, fresh fish and seafood, coffee and cakes, be sure to explore Dower House Square. A plaque at the entrance reveals that Dennis Joseph Kendrick (1931 – 1997) was the creator and founder of this small development.

Leading into this piazza-style area and fronting the square is Yasmine of Bawtry, a prestigious clothes shop which has been serving the ladies of Bawtry with stylish fashions since 1974, when the business was established by Annette Woolliams. Yasmine also opened in Epworth in 1998.

Annette said: “The shops are part of my life. I can’t imagine not having them, the customers are my friends. New stock arrives daily. By March most of our Spring collections will be in store.”

Annette’s daughter, Emma Morris, formerly of Joseph Ribkoff, has recently joined her mum, adding her expertise to the business.

Louise and Rob Atkinson are relative newcomers. They opened their fresh fish and seafood shop ZuVu in Dower House Square eleven months ago, expanding to have a second outlet in Tickhill just over a month ago.

“Although we are in a difficult climate we have found the support of businesses in both locations to be fantastic,” said Louise. “We aim to provide the highest level of service and the majority of our fish are from day boats from Filey.”

Customers can select from a wide range of catch, including freshly dressed crab to lobster, monkfish, halibut, sea bass, cod, salmon and haddock. They can also buy cold seafood dishes to eat on site.

The Courtyard, which lies off the High Street, offers more unmissable shopping.Look out for everything from beautiful lingerie to shoes, handbags and special gifts.

This area was developed by Graham Smith Design, which went on to win a Green Apple Award in 2005 in recognition of the efforts made to preserve and enhance Bawtry’s heritage.

Elaine Thorpe, who owns Etc Etc Etc, celebrates ten years of trading in Bawtry during the weekend of 16th and 17th March.

During twenty-seven years of local authority employment, Elaine dreamed of owning her own shop and now she has indulged her passion for a decade.

She started off in the Market Place, where she began selling an eclectic mix of goods for the discerning shopper – a trend which she carried through to her second shop in The Courtyard, which also stocks furniture.

Elaine simply credits her success to doing a job that she loves: “I love keeping in touch with my customers on a regular basis. All of them are lovely people and each day I am thankful that I made this jump in my career. Bawtry is a wonderful town to work in, with a true community spirit,” said Elaine.

Her customers are contacted regularly and throughout the year, invited to personal shopping and supplier-led events.

“My suppliers include Pilgrim Jewellery and Emma Bridgewater and they are really generous, so we have some lovely events which everyone enjoys.”

Reloved, which offers shoppers a dazzling collection of upcycled furniture and one-off accessories, recently moved into The Courtyard from Tickhill. The shop is owned by Rosie Cook.

“I took over Reloved Interiors from the previous owner and I am continuing to stock the wide variety of interior items that were available at Tickhill. We have upcycled painted furniture and vintage, one-off accessories,” said Rosie.

“I am passionate about finding products made by local designers that are unique and exclusive, which people really want in their homes but which can’t be found in big stores.”

Rosie, who bought the former business’ name, Facebook page and website, is in premises which used to be occupied by Bawtry Fabrics and Trimmings.

There are so many businesses in Bawtry which are worth a closer look. Others include the jewellery shop Time for Diamonds, underwear and swimwear specialist & She Knows, the bespoke soft furnishing and interiors store Womacks and the top labels designer boutique Robinsons of Bawtry.

Robinsons, in South Parade, is the place to find irresistible fashions. Ladies will be blown away with top brands, including Amanda Wakeley, Armani Collezioni, Armani Jeans, Bernshaw, Versace and Ralph Lauren. Then there’s the must-have Mulberry handbags and accessories and fabulous Vivienne Westwood buys too.

Men’s brands include Hugo Boss Black Label, Ralph Lauren Jeans, Armani and Versace.

Robinsons is owned by Russell and Wendy Jones. Last October, in addition to its twentieth regular fashion show, the shop also celebrated the launch of its Amanda Wakeley range, with a dedicated Amanda Wakeley Fashion Show.

Her designs went down a storm and Amanda also offered an auction prize of a personal shopping experience and £1,000 spending spree in her Fulham Road store in London, which raised a fantastic £6,500 for Yorkshire Cancer Research. It means that Robinsons has raised more than £250,000 for the charity over the past twenty years.

Hot on the heels of London Fashion Week comes the inaugural Bawtry Fashion Month.

With over thirty fashion, hair and beauty boutiques packed into the Market Place and picturesque courtyards, the town’s retail association has declared March the month that is dedicated to fashion.

“March is the perfect month to showcase the latest spring/summer 2013 fashions that are now in all our shops,” said Mark Bates, chair of Bawtry Retail Association (BRA) and owner of Bawtry Shoe Company. “Almost every fashion, beauty and accessories retailer is taking part and the event will also encompass a special four-day promotion from Thursday 21st – Sunday 24th March which coincides perfectly with the famous William Hill Lincoln at Doncaster Racecourse. During this time shoppers can enjoy 10% discount plus a host of other special offers at participating retailers when they quote ‘Bawtry Fashion Month’, perfect for anyone preparing for the races!”

Events taking place during the month include an Italian fashion event at Smiths David House (7th – 9th March) and ETC will be celebrating their 10th birthday (16th March) by giving free Pilgrim earrings to customers who spend over £10 plus a chance to win some fabulous prizes in their birthday raffle. Or, if your wardrobe and image need a complete overhaul, you could make an appointment with an image consultant at Glendinnings (formerly Devernois) to gain some inside advice or enjoy Yasmine’s personal styling event (20th March). The team at Milanda’s are offering a ‘Spring in to Fashion Package’ including spray tan, hair put up, strip eyelashes, file and polish for just £45 while Robinsons will be holding a masterclass for the gents on how to ‘tie the perfect bow tie’. And, in celebration of 100 years of the bra, lingerie boutique & She Knows will be offering 10% off all bra purchases over the special promotional weekend.

For the little ones Bobby & Bella children’s boutique will have a face painter in the shop on Saturday 23rd March between 12 noon and 2pm and during the special promotional event an Easter treasure hunt will be taking place around the town with a chocolate treat for all those who take part. The whole family can enjoy judging the Easter bonnets on display in selected retailers.

Simply fill out a score sheet and enter into a prize draw to be in with a chance to win an overnight stay at the luxurious four- star Crown Hotel. A raffle will also be taking place with the opportunity to win over twenty amazing prizes donated by the retailers.

“Bawtry Fashion Month promises to be a memorable experience and is a prime example of what can be achieved when retailers work towards a common goal,” said Mark. “We believe that this is why Bawtry continues to grow and prosper both as a social and retail destination but also as a place to live, work and run your own business.”

Full details of all participating retailers, special offers and events can be found at www.bawtry.org.

Situated in a very quiet part of town – where Church Street meets Wharf Street – stands the twelfth-century church dedicated to St Nicholas, the patron saint of sailors.

You may ask, why sailors here in Yorkshire? Well, back in the twelfth century the church was in the middle of the busy inland port of Bawtry, where sailors were coming and going all the year round and they would use the church to make thanks for their safe return from often long and difficult journeys.

Because of the church’s location, when the river traffic started to decline, the area around the once-bustling port became quiet and solitary and trading moved to the centre of town where the Great North Road ran.

However, the church is worth a visit today. The historic artefacts within its walls include fifteenth-century pillars and a sixteenth-century painting depicting the flight of Joseph, Mary and Jesus to Egypt.

During the twelfth century Bawtry was the country’s third largest inland port.

The town sits where the River Idle crosses the Great North Road – an old Roman road linking London to York – and this vantage point ensured that Bawtry was in an excellent position when it came to trade and commerce.

Such was the town’s importance that it received a Royal Charter in 1213 and it continued to thrive down the centuries. However, the construction of the Chesterfield Canal in 1777 pulled river trade from the port and the town’s focus altered.

Roads gradually improved after the Turnpike Act of 1759 and stagecoaches were a popular sight. The town had many inns offering travellers overnight rest.

The Great North Road became centre stage. Entering Yorkshire through the town gave Bawtry a new main claim to fame – location – as it was once known as the ‘Gateway to the North.’

The southernmost house in the town actually has the address ‘Number One Yorkshire’!

The White Hart in Swan Street lays claim to being the oldest pub, dating back to 1689, but with Swan Street actually being named after what was probably the oldest and possibly the largest of the town’s coaching inns of days gone by, The Swan. However the only remaining feature of this hostelry is the dovecote which is now part of The Courtyard shopping area.

Busy though Bawtry is, it is still easy to find the quiet little streets full of character and warmth, proudly displaying old houses adorned with bow windows, arched doorways and mysterious rear courtyards, obviously once alive with business and trade.

Bawtry Hall, a gracious Grade II listed manor house was built in 1785 by Pemberton Milnes, a Wakefield wool merchant. During the twentieth century, the Hall served as Bomber Command for the RAF and now the historic building is a residential Christian Conference Centre.

The town’s well-estalished flower and plant sales building, was put up in 1890 as the Town Hall, and used for public functions catering for up to 450 people.

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