Gainsborough’s grand to visit

Words by:
Glynis Fox
Featured in:
June 2014

Lots of different ‘ingredients’ are essential if today’s market towns are to blossom and thrive – from ongoing investment, to lively businesses and a great programme of events.
Towns are no longer simply shopping destinations; they have to shout about their tourist attractions, highlight their community projects and make sure everyone is aware of the special dates on their calendar.

In Gainsborough, it is certainly worth keeping an eye on what’s going on, whether that’s watching out for the latest changes to the streetscene, new business arrivals or noting dates for the family’s diary.

On the commercial front, there is fresh excitement after Marshall’s Yard developer Dransfield Properties announced it has set its sights on creating a new hotel in the town – just a stone’s throw from the multi-million pound shopping complex.

The news comes as Gainsborough Town Manager, Samantha Dodd has revealed that there is also a big push underway to bring in more visitors to see what the town has to offer, when it comes to shopping and leisure activities.

More traders are also being encouraged to become part of the town centre’s bright and breezy markets, and a new leisure area has been created for the public to enjoy.

Property wise, Gainsborough’s ambitions for a smart town centre hotel have taken a step forward, after plans were submitted for a key site in the town.

Dransfield Properties said its proposed £3 million development will revitalise the former Sun Inn site on the corner of Market Street and North Street, with an attractively designed Edwardian style hotel, which will house fifty-two bedrooms.

Dransfield has been working closely with West Lindsey District Council’s planners on the architectural style of the hotel – ensuring that it fits in with the neighbouring buildings, in what is a prominent town centre location.

There has been a long-held aspiration for a hotel in Gainsborough, in a good town centre location, to boost local business and tourism.

The Sun Inn closed several years ago and new plans for the site would see the redevelopment of the building and bring a disused town centre site back into use.

Dransfield Properties bought the building earlier this year and has been working with the design team at Dixon Dawson Architecture to bring forward what aims to be an attractive, well-designed development for the site.

The same design team which worked on the town’s award-winning Marshall’s Yard development, also brought forward by Dransfield, has worked on the plans for the new hotel.

The building has been planned in a traditional Edwardian design, with a natural stone plinth and arched windows on the ground floor.

The company is now working with West Lindsey District Council to attract grant funding to ensure this jobs-creating project can become a reality.

Dransfield Properties’ managing director, Mark Dransfield said: “We know from our experience that there is definitely a need for a hotel in Gainsborough town centre and this is something the local authority has been working towards for some time.

“This development would be a great addition to the town and a boost to both tourism and the wider economy in Gainsborough. The Sun Inn site is located on a key site, so we have challenged our architects to deliver a statement building which will stand the test of time. I think the design is exceptional and sends a clear message that Gainsborough is a strong market town and worthy of investment.”

Meanwhile, Marshall’s Yard continues to develop and attract new retailers and even more shoppers.

In the town centre itself, Oldrids has continued its transformation of its Lindsey Centre store and there’s an extra splash of colour when market traders set out their colourful stalls in the Market Place on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

All this is being complemented by a big drive to stage more events in this part of town, as well as a fresh determination to promote Gainsborough’s tourist attractions.

Town Manager, Samantha Dodd said: “In addition to supporting local businesses, I am working to increase the promotion of Gainsborough and to bring more visitors into the town.

“The Town Partnership has launched a new Shop Fronts Grants Scheme, which means that businesses moving into empty properties can apply for up to £2,000 to improve their shopfronts and existing tenants can get up to £1,000 – these figures need to be match-funded.

“So far we have had a steady flow of applications from independent businesses within the town centre and we want to hear from more, because we want to improve the look of the town centre.”
Gainsborough has a number of attractions; notably Gainsborough Old Hall, All Saints Parish Church, Gainsborough Heritage Association (which is based in The Old Post Office) and the Gainsborough Model Railway Society.

There are also other attractions, such as the town’s Trinity Arts Centre and Old Nick Theatres, as well as the Blyton Park Race Track and the Mount Pleasant Windmill at Kirton Lindsey, just a few miles away.

“Events are very important to modern day towns and we are trying to stage those which raise the profile of Gainsborough to residents, first-time and returning visitors,” said Samantha.

“We have a number of tourist attractions and we are trying to link them together to create packages for visitors to enjoy. For instance we have linked the town’s famous medieval building, The Old Hall, with Marshall’s Yard.

“They are now being marketed to tour operators and it is hoped this will lead to the town benefiting from about fifty coach tours a year,” she added.

“On 7th June, visitors should look out for a Viking invasion as the town marks 1,000 years since the King of Denmark, Sweyn Forkbeard came up the Trent. He was King of England for five weeks, but died the following year at Gainsborough.

“The town has a strong link with the Vikings and we are keen to celebrate our history. References to Sweyn Forkbeard and his son, Canute, can still be found throughout the town today, such as the Canute Public House, in Silver Street,” said Samantha.

The Vikings Invade day promises to be lots of fun, featuring Have a Go Archery, Strike Your Own Coin and Viking games, plus a shop Treasure Hunt!

Father’s Day, 15th June also promises another unmissable occasion, when Trent Valley Mini Owners’ Club will be taking over the Market Place. It is also Marshall Tractors Day at Marshall’s Yard.
Gainsborough Model Railway Society will also be opening its doors on both Saturday, 14th June and Sunday, 15th June.

And Gainsborough Town Council’s Football Development Officer, Jonathan Coles is urging footie lovers not to miss out on a fun tournament themed around the upcoming World Cup.

It takes place at the Levellings playing field (Hickman Bacon Memorial Park) in Love Lane, on 14th June from 10am to 4pm and is free. The under sevens, under eights, under nines and under tens are taking part, with each team being allocated a country with a match-playing T-shirt.

This round robin-style tournament is being supported by Gainsborough College and the Town Council.

An Arts & Crafts Fair which took place in the Market Place in July 2013 and March this year, proved to be a real success, when people could browse and buy unique handmade items.

“The last one attracted about 3,000 people and so its traders are returning again on 5th July, as part of another event (Independents’ Day) and then hosting their own event on 10th and 11th October,” said Samantha.

“Gainsborough Independent Retailers, which is a sub-group of the Town Centre Partnership is also looking forward to celebrating Independents’ Day on 5th July.

“This is when people are encouraged to take a closer look at what individual shopkeepers can offer. There will be lots of stalls in the Market Place on that day, followed by a 1940s dance at the Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in the evening.”

Gainsborough Town Partnership has also been working on a tourism plan with Gainsborough College’s travel and tourism students and with Trent Valley Academy’s young journalism students on their project about ways of promoting the town.

West Lindsey District Council’s Markets Officer, Rebecca Jackson said there is a chance for more would-be traders to be part of the vibrant Tuesday and Saturday markets staged in the Market Place.

“The market is very lively on Tuesdays and some of the traders also have stalls on Saturdays, which also attracts further stallholders,” she said.

“We have more stalls available on Saturdays and an incentive for new traders wishing to come along on that day, because they can take a stall for £7.50 for the first six months. The starting price for new Tuesday market traders is £17.50.”

GAINSBOROUGH HERITAGE ASSOCIATION – Based in North Street, the heritage centre is open to the public six days a month.

The Association hosts regular events and exhibitions. You can research the town’s world famous companies of the past, including Marshalls and Rose Brothers and visit the Association’s shop.

Its exhibition, A Night at the Pictures continues through June.

GAINSBOROUGH MODEL RAILWAY SOCIETY – You’ll find the Society’s home in Florence Street and it’s a great place to go if you are passionate about the world of railways.

Visitors can see one of the largest hand-built in ‘O’ gauge railways, depicting the East Coast Main Line from King’s Cross to Leeds Central. Also look out for replicas of favourite locos such as the Flying Scotsman, Papyrus and Mallard.

Pop along on Saturday or Sunday, 14th or 15th June, between 1.30pm and 6pm.

THE OLD HALL – Follow in the footsteps of famous visitors such as Richard III, Henry VIII, John Wesley and the Pilgrim Fathers, who have all at one time passed through The Old Hall’s doors.

A prominent feature in Parnell Street, this is one of the best preserved medieval manor houses in England, with a great hall, medieval kitchen and a brick built tower, reflecting its historic importance and wealth.

ALL SAINTS CHURCH, CHURCH STREET – Take time out by popping into the Grade One-listed All Saints Church. You can spend time reflecting on its inspiring architecture, find out about one of the concerts it hosts throughout the year or have a refreshing cuppa in its cafe.

Since taking over from the Lincolnshire Co-operative Home in February 2013, Oldrids department store has also been working to offer shoppers in Gainsborough a great, new retail experience.

The company has introduced some big name brands for fashion lovers, such as Seasalt and Superdry, as well as exciting new additions to their furniture and homeware offerings, with brands like Tempur, Ercol, Cath Kidston, Denby and Sanderson, all having arrived in store.

Over the past year, work has been underway all over the department store, with the aim of making it a much more inviting and engaging place to shop.

An Oldrids spokesman said: “Part of the refurbishment has seen the addition of the Oldrids electrical department, which offers a fantastic selection of technology, including cutting-edge audio-visual and home entertainment equipment.”

Customers can now find the very latest products from Apple, Sony, LG, Sonos and many other technology brands as well as large and small domestic appliances.

Introducing new and exciting brands to the Gainsborough store is all part of welcoming it into the wider Oldrids and Downtown group and spreading the company’s ethos of providing everything customers need for their homes, along with excellent customer service and an altogether enjoyable shopping experience.

This integration of the store into the wider company has also seen staff and customers at the Gainsborough store become involved with fundraising for the Oldrids and Downtown charity of the year.

“Their hard work and generosity last year contributed to a fantastic total of over £20,000 for Marie Curie, with this year’s fundraising efforts taking place in aid of the Respite Association, based in Lincolnshire,” said the spokesman.

“We will continue to work closely with the store team to further improve the proposition this year, through additional brand introductions and low cost environment enhancement projects.”

It’s hard to believe Marshall’s Yard is seven years old this year. With an exciting new retail line-up this year including Mountain Warehouse, Poundland and the men’s fashion store, Fallen Hero, the centre continues to be extremely popular with shoppers, ensuring there is always something new.

Shoppers who haven’t visited the market town’s shopping centre for a while may want to take advantage of the cheap parking fees and see what’s new.

Browns department store, the independent business originating in York, took a leap of faith opening in Gainsborough with top name brands on offer for the very first time in the town.

However, the team at Browns couldn’t be more pleased with how things are going. The store has performed overwhelmingly in what is still a difficult climate in retail and has proved there is a market in Gainsborough and its surrounding areas for what the store sells.

Since opening, the business has gone from strength to strength in terms of its standard of customer service which has led to shoppers making repeat visits to their brand offer, which now includes Ted Baker handbags, Moda in Pelle shoes and Barbour.

Jackie Helliwell, centre manger, said: “We now firmly believe we have a well-rounded offer on the centre, quickly replacing Yeomans outdoors offer when the company went into administration, with Mountain Warehouse and offering convenience to our savvy shoppers with Poundland – we really do now have something here for everyone.”

Monthly Farmers’ and Country Living Markets on the second and last Saturday of the month also draw people to the centre for a more leisurely day out.

A comprehensive calendar of attractions and key family events ensures there is always something happening at the Yard.

Father’s Day will see the centre celebrate with over thirty Marshalls tractor engines on display and on 12th July, it will be transformed into a little Italy, with an Italian food market and entertainment.

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