Festival, feasts and fantastic high street

Words by:
Melanie Burton
Featured in:
May 2019

A spirit of collaboration among business people and community groups is helping the market town of Louth to buck the national trend, finds Melanie Burton.

Louth is renowned for its varied independent businesses which, together with its popular tourist attractions, its long and interesting heritage and numerous major events, are key to the success of this thriving traditional market town.

And reports from Louth’s Independent Traders indicate that it is continuing to draw shoppers, as chairman Gary Denniss explained.

“People are coming back to the High Street. Everyone in the town has had a good Christmas and the success is continuing because people are coming back into town, instead of going out of town and shopping on the internet, which is very inspiring.

“We are working extensively hard to create footfall. It is a fantastic place and we are bucking the trend of other market towns. We have a town full of independent traders and it makes all the difference.”
Louth Independent Traders is a not-for-profit, non-political collaboration of business people who combine their skills to promote and support Louth.

Formed in early 2015 by local businesses with the ambition of generating a more buoyant town centre, the group’s aim is to be the driving force promoting the town through special events and advertising, thus encouraging further investment by both business owners and councils.

“Membership of the association is fantastic, with 90% of the businesses in the town part of the Independent Traders group. There is a good atmosphere in the town and very few empty shops. There are all sorts of shops in Louth, so if you can’t get what you are looking for here you don’t need it,” said Gary.

As you would expect from a market town, Louth hosts a variety of markets including regular weekly markets (Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays), monthly farmers’ markets, and thriving Victorian and Christmas Sunday Markets when thousands of visitors come to soak up the atmosphere.

Many visitors come to Louth, not just to shop but to take a look around the attractions that the historic town has to offer, such as St James’s Church which is a magnificent and widely admired example of church architecture with its sixteenth-century spire soaring to 295 feet, making it the tallest parish church spire in England.

Louth is one of the few significant settlements sited on the international meridian line – in Eastgate just east of the Northgate junction, it is marked by a brass plaque – the Greenwich Meridian of 0 degrees longitude, which enables you to stand with one foot in the western hemisphere and the other in the eastern hemisphere, from which the name of the Zero Degrees Festival is taken.

Louth Museum on Broadbank is an award-winning visitor attraction which showcases the history of the town including its involvement in the crafts and trades of yesteryear.

It was refitted in 2006 and now has four galleries, a library and a gift shop.

The Museum celebrated its centenary in 2010 and has won four Renaissance Heritage awards as well as the Lincolnshire Heritage Museum of the Year award and and a Pride of Place award from Louth Civic Trust.

Owned and run by a voluntary charity – the Louth Naturalists’, Antiquarian and Literary Society, founded in 1884 – it is known locally as the ‘Ants and Nats’.

The original single-gallery museum opened in 1910 and was one of very few in the UK purpose-built by a learned society.

Its first exhibition of 2019, which opened at the beginning of April and runs until 1st June, turns the spotlight on 100 Years of the RAF around Louth and features the local RAF stations.

Lincolnshire was known as ‘Bomber County’ as it was home to more than eighty RAF bases during World War II, with fifteen near Louth.

The displays include photographs, brief station histories, stories of key events and personnel together with interesting artefacts.

Louth can also boast an area of natural beauty in the form of Hubbard’s Hills which is now a local beauty spot and popular place for family picnics, school field trips and dog walking.

The park is dedicated to the memory of Annie Pahud and was donated to the town by the trustees of Auguste Alphonse Pahud, and opened to the public on 1st August 1907.

Auguste Pahud, who was Swiss, moved to Louth in 1875 to take up duties as a German and French teacher at King Edward VI Grammar School. He married a local girl, Annie, daughter of wealthy farmers William and Maria Grant.

Annie died in 1889 and Auguste never got over this, committing suicide in 1902.

The trustees of Auguste Pahud bought Hubbard’s Hills to honour his wish to create a memorial for Annie and established an Edwardian pleasure garden with a lake, a country park and a memorial. The conveyance required ‘the natural beauty of the property and its rural character is to be forever maintained’.

In 2009, the responsibility of maintaining the park passed to Hubbard’s Hills Trust Limited and it is dedicated to the restoration of the Louth beauty spot to its former glory through a conservation plan to safeguard the next 100 years of the Hills; replanting trees, enhancing the chalk stream and dredging the ornamental lake.

Louth can be justly proud of its heritage and is one of the towns featuring in a project designed to bring together new and old archaeological information which will, for the first time ever, show how thirty Lincolnshire towns have changed since the Middle Ages.

Run by Lincolnshire County Council and funded by Historic England, the Lincolnshire Extensive Urban Survey (EUS) is part of a national programme which aims to understand how and why towns have developed in the way they have.

Bringing together information, mapping and evidence – both old and new – the project looks at how Lincolnshire towns have grown to be what you see today.

The project will look at thirty towns in the county and aims to bring together and increase our knowledge and understanding of the heritage, development and character of these areas.

Nicola Grayson from Lincolnshire County Council, who is leading the work, said: “We have such a rich heritage in Lincolnshire, so we are really spoilt for choice on which towns to choose. We’ve chosen a real spread of locations – from historic market towns to large seaside destinations.

“The aim is to produce a geographical information system (GIS) map for each town showing the county’s residential settlements from the Roman period to the present day. This can then be used to help planners make decisions about future land use, and promote sympathetic developments.”

Major events in Louth always attract a good turnout and there is always something going on in the town to encourage the local community to get out and about.

June sees the start of the popular Zero Degrees Festival which is a celebration of the arts, music, dance and comedy taking place in various venues around the town.

The Zero Degrees Festival is a Louth-based, independent, not-for-profit, community organisation, run entirely by volunteers, with its roots firmly in the community. The primary aim of the festival is to broaden and enrich the cultural experiences Louth can offer to local residents and visitors, and also to inspire and encourage people to participate in those activities.

The long-term aim is to establish Louth as a festival town, regionally and nationally, and in so doing fulfil a further aim, which is to support the local economy.

Among the many events taking place over the two-week-long festival is Party in the Pews, Music at Free Degrees outside the King’s Head, the new Outfields Music Fest and the Vintage Day, sponsored by The Masons Arms Hotel.

This year’s Zero Degrees Festival runs from 15th June to 1st July and boasts almost eighty separate events, building on the success of last year’s festival, which saw thousands of people supporting the events.

Eve & Ranshaw in Louth is Lincolnshire’s oldest independent department store and one of the oldest stores in the UK, having been established in 1781 by Adam Eve.

It is with great sadness that owner David Sandwith recently passed away after a battle with cancer, having led the store since purchasing it in 1977 with his father, Christopher. David leaves behind a legacy of over forty years of service and dedication to generations of customers and to the local community. The store, however, continues to thrive and evolve as David’s oldest son, Marcus, now takes the helm meaning that the Sandwith family, having first opened up a draper’s store in 1891, have been continuously trading in Louth for 128 years. Eve & Ranshaw continues to offer a true department store experience based on its reputation for curated choice and outstanding personal customer service to the town and surrounding area.

Visitors to the store will be able to experience the newly refurbished Lingerie department with professionally trained staff; browse the gift offering with an enviable selection of handbags, jewellery and seasonal accessories; or meet the home furnishing team who can create the perfect look for your home and offer a made-to-measure curtain service. Eve & Ranshaw aims to appeal to a wide customer audience and has a dedicated team across the following departments: menswear; ladies fashions and shoes; home furnishings; children’s clothes and toys; curtains and linens; lingerie; gifts and cookware.

Established now for 36 years, the creative studio headed by Clive Rhodes in Louth continues to fulfill a diverse range of domestic and commercial projects around the country. Their team are experts at creating a bespoke scheme for your interior, working with the finest names in fabrics, carpets, rugs, paints, wall coverings as well as solid flooring and interior finishes.

A recent project was to transform a north facing television room which now exudes a year round spring like freshness and warmth, thanks to the vision of the client, which extended beyond her predilection for silk. The Tree Peony fabric, a matte linen print, evoked for her the garden beyond, as a botanist and earnest gardener.

This choice was supported with striped silk Roman blinds, which in turn added detail to the upholstered cornice pelmet and bespoke rondels holding back the dress curtains. Leading names which featured in this commission included Colefax and Fowler, Ian Sanderson and Linwood Fabrics.

Clive Rhodes refurbished the client’s sofas and chairs using the coral palette shot through with green and gold wefts. Decorative cords, fringe and button tufts were commissioned from Clare Hedges, a Norfolk based passementerie maker.

Whatever the scope of your plans, Clive Rhodes offer services ranging from space planning and colour advice through to full project management.

For further information contact Clive Rhodes on 01507 603112 or visit: www.cliverhodes.com

This year promises to be an extra exciting one for dancers in Louth following the expansion of a local dance school.

More aspiring dancers will get the chance to fulfil their dreams now that the town’s family-run Studio 2000 School of Dance has expanded into the Masonic Hall building in Queen Street.

Professional teacher Nicola Goldby and her husband Stuart snapped up the chance to buy the property and are now breathing new life into the historic property having created new studios for the school’s 250 pupils and others waiting in the wings to join classes.

Nicola said: “The School provides dance classes in ballet, tap, modern, musical theatre, street dance, acrobatic arts and singing.

“We serve a good catchment area and take children from the age of 2½ through to teenagers and adults. We also put pupils through RAD and ISTD examinations.”

Stuart added that the School has a great relationship with the Riverhead Theatre, where dancers take part in events.

“It’s that time again, as gorgeous new spring stock graces our shopfloor,” says Danielle Hardy of Daniella’s. “New for this season we have Jose Saenz, delivering exciting and contemporary styles – from beiges, to blues and reds, to florals and snake prints. Our desire is to provide you with a selection of footwear and accessories which make you as excited with your purchases as I am when buying with all of you in mind. Regardless of who you want to be – an elegant woman at an evening party or a ready-for-action businesswoman – our shoes will always match your mood and image. Like they always say, ‘Accessories make the outfit’!”

“Delve into a fresh look this spring/summer and discover the lifestyle collections at Orchid Boutique,” says owner Tanya Hardy. “This is our favourite season, and the colour trends cover such a broad range, from pretty-as-a-picture pastels to the much bolder reds and blues with acidic lime, yellow and orange. Orchid Boutique offers lifestyle collections for the modern woman. Our carefully selected styles and colours allow the simplicity to cherry-pick the latest looks to mix and match, even across brands, creating a unique range of outfits from just a few pieces – or to simply buy a couple of key pieces that fit in with your existing wardrobes, giving you an instant update.”

Another new initiative which is being piloted in Louth is the Lighthouse drop-in centre which offers help and support to people struggling to cope with modern-day life.

The new centre is open every Friday morning between 10am and 1pm in Nichol Hill, to provide food, essentials and support for those in need.

The scheme is being run by the Louth Methodist Church Outreach Project and is located in the old Nichols building.

Mark Harrison, who is co-organiser of the centre with Helen Dee, said the idea for the centre came about because the Nichols youth project, which had helped hundreds of children in the town over the 21 years it had been running, folded last summer and it was realised that youngsters who had gone through the project would be in their 20s and 30s and could be experiencing difficulties such as Universal Credit issues and the like.

“It is a drop-in centre to support people experiencing difficulties and there is no age barrier,” said Mark.

The centre also has a temporary food bank.

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