Heckington – blending tradition with modern life

Words by:
Melanie Burton.
Featured in:
July 2023

With a variety of independent businesses, tourist attractions and easy transport links, it’s easy to see why Heckington is such a popular place to live, work or visit, says Melanie Burton.

Heckington may be classed as a village because of its size, population and location but it is more like a small town with the services and facilities it has to offer. It has one of the finest medieval churches in the county, hosts one of the biggest annual village shows in the country, attracting thousands of visitors to the area every year, and is also home to an eight-sailed windmill which is the only example of its type still standing in Europe and the UK.

It is also moving with the times and proposals are in the pipeline for a new renewable energy park to be created there, which could power more than 190,000 homes with clean electricity.

Residents were asked for their feedback on the proposed Beacon Fen Energy Park which will be made up of solar PV, co-located with energy storage, to be spread across two sites – one north of the village of Heckington and the other south of Helpringham.

The early (non-statutory) engagement consultation for Beacon Fen Energy Park took place from 15th May to 18th June and included a series of in-person events and webinars for stakeholders and communities to attend.

Renewable energy company Low Carbon confirmed that, if given permission, Beacon Fen Energy Park would generate an estimated 600MW of electricity a year while also avoiding up to 120,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually.

Network infrastructure will also need to be built as part of the project to export the electricity generated by the energy park into the grid, which under current plans will be via an existing connection point at the Bicker Fen substation.

Director at Low Carbon, James Hartley-Bond, explained that speaking directly with local communities and stakeholders was a core part of its approach throughout the development of Beacon Fen Energy Park.

“Local people hold essential information which will feed directly into the project,” he said.

“The UK Government has made clear its plans for the country to reach Net Zero by 2050. Its aim is to increase the nation’s solar capacity fivefold by 2035. If given permission, Beacon Fen Energy Park will be a significant step forward towards reaching this vital goal and securing sustainable energy for the country.”

Because the amount of electricity Beacon Fen Energy Park could generate exceeds 50MW it is classified as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) and requires an application for a Development Consent Order (DCO) to be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate.

The development process for the project through to DCO submission and then examination is expected to take between two and three years. Subject to achieving consent, construction would start no earlier than 2026.

JOINT PROJECTS
Residents were also consulted on the biodiversity project, which is a joint council and community project and will see new spaces created for plants and wildlife to flourish.

Together, North Kesteven District Council and groups Heckington in Bloom and Trees for Heckington will transform a number of the council’s green spaces in the village which are currently mown and offer limited benefits for nature.

A variety of measures will be implemented to encourage improvements in biodiversity such as letting grass grow longer, planting wildflowers and trees, and providing other habitats for wildlife.

If this project proves successful, it is possible that other partnerships could be developed within North Kesteven communities to create sustainable biodiversity projects across the district.

Council Leader, Councillor Richard Wright said it was great to be working with Heckington in Bloom and Trees for Heckington to bring this project to fruition.

“With our seed-funding and their ongoing voluntary efforts, we’ll soon be seeing a brighter and more diverse environment in Heckington,” he said.

“For a long time these patches of land have just been left to grass, but we have the opportunity now to do more, especially as increasing biodiversity is vital for our fight against climate change and helping the district to reach net zero by 2030.

“More trees and plants help to capture carbon from the environment and improve air quality. One of the impacts of climate change is also the loss of species, so by providing wilder spaces we’re helping to protect wildlife.

“The council’s strategies around nature and climate change are not just words on paper; they’re active plans that we all need to take part in and support. This type of project goes to prove that by working together we can bring these plans to life.”

Heckington in Bloom was set up by Dawn Bell in 2022, following on from Heckington Best Kept Blooming Village group, also run by Dawn since 2017.

The group has 70 volunteers and already takes care of a variety of green areas in the village, including seasonal displays enjoyed by all, plus extensive litter picking.

Dawn said: “We have identified these areas where we can make a positive impact and help make the village a nicer place for residents to live in.

“We want there to be a nicer outlook for people who live here, planting spring bulbs and creating an area with lovely flowers for people passing by to enjoy.”

The Trees for Heckington group was set up by Tim Grigg in 2019 with the long-term aim of finding a site to plant a new community woodland.

In the meantime, the group looks for any opportunity to plant new trees and has already planted more than 20 trees in the village.

Tim said: “We are looking to improve the environment in the village, making it better for residents but also doing our bit for nature. We just want to make it an even more pleasant place to live.”

LOCAL ATTRACTIONS
At the moment the village is gearing itself up for its renowned annual village show which takes place at the end of July and now brings in more than 30,000 visitors each year.

It has its origins in the village’s 900-year-old feast week which is linked to the Feast of St Mary but a country show can be traced back to 1863. The current site has been the show’s venue since 1867.

Heckington Mill is another village site that attracts thousands of visitors into the village. It has played an important part in village life since the early 1800s, when it was originally built by Edward Ingledew of Gainsborough for Michael Hare as a five-sailed mill.

Following a severe thunderstorm which blew off the cap and sails, it was repaired in 1892 by John Pocklington using a cap and eight sails from a windmill in Boston.

The bricks from the Boston mill were also recycled and used to build the mill house that stands at the front of the site.

The mill ceased work in 1946 and deteriorated until it was purchased by Kesteven County Council in 1953 and made safe. It then underwent restoration in 1986 and further major repairs were carried out in 2004 to bring it back to full working order.

Now owned by Lincolnshire County Council, it is operated and run on a voluntary basis by Heckington Windmill Trust and is still a big part of village life attracting thousands of visitors each year as well as producing its own oat flour.

Heckington is believed to be the only location in the UK where there have been windmills with four, five, six and eight sails.

WELCOME TO THE UK’S LARGEST VILLAGE SHOW
Heckington Show is a special part of the summer landscape not just for the village itself but the county as well.

The show has been around since 1863, but has roots going back more than 1,000 years and is now regarded as the largest village show in the UK.

Run by a team of dedicated volunteers, it offers the best of Lincolnshire with local food from plum bread to its famous sausages, farm animals from Lincoln Red cattle to Longwool Sheep and cycle racing to showjumping.

This year’s main attractions are the Vander Brothers Aerial Wheel of Death, Paul Hannam’s Quad Bike Stunt Show and the top Spice Girls tribute act 90s Spice playing Saturday night’s Firework Concert.

There will also be a Heritage Village re-enacting history, an Activity Zone with hands-on fun for all ages, scores of trade stands, rural craft stalls and a traditional fairground boasting a steam carousel.

There are only 25 shows in the UK that are larger than Heckington and they are all major county or regional shows such as Lincolnshire, Royal Norfolk and Great Yorkshire.

No wonder then that last year’s show was featured on two episodes of The Farmers’ Country Showdown programme – the first time the series has filmed two episodes at a village show.

Chairman of the Heckington and District Agricultural Society, Charles Pinchbeck, emphasised that with the cost-of-living crisis the massive contribution from the volunteer team makes the show tremendous value for a family day out.

“What makes Heckington stand out is that despite its scale and quality it still retains a real community atmosphere which makes it a pleasure to attend, whether as a visitor or as a competitor or exhibitor,” he said.

“One of our themes is ‘county show quality – village show atmosphere’. That means making sure things still feel intimate and immediate, with lots of hands-on activities.

“We are fortunate that as the show is run entirely by volunteers we have no fixed costs, so there was no real financial impact from Covid and the team also worked really hard to keep the show spirit alive with an online show in 2020 and a Covid-friendly one-day show in 2021, which was the only event in Lincolnshire that year, and took place only five days after ‘Freedom Day’.

“Nationally a number of traders and exhibitors stopped coming to shows, either as they retired or the forced breaks created financial issues. It is taking time for that to build up again and we expect to be back to pretty much full strength again this year.


“What is clear is that even though so much of our world went digital and online during the pandemic, people still really enjoy the real world of events like Heckington Show, the chance to see new things and to meet old and new friends.”

Show organisers are not resting on their laurels either.

Next year will mark 60 years of the re-birth of the show with a volunteer team – before then it had been run by a paid secretary and all the work was done by contractors.

The last show of that type was held in 1960. It resumed in 1964 with a one-day flower show in the village hall and has grown year on year to become what it is today.

“Two things – ‘volunteer’ and ‘community’ – make Heckington Show special,” added Mr Pincheck.

“Any other show of this size will have a paid staff of perhaps five or six people. The Heckington volunteers bring a powerful mix of professionalism and enthusiasm which makes the show that little bit special.

“We will be continuing our policy of always looking how we can make next year that little bit better and more special.

“The first two committee meetings after the show have no formal agenda and talk about what we learnt from that year’s event and fresh ideas for next year.”

Chair of Heckington Parish Council, Janet Palmer, said as a local councillor she was very proud of what the show produces and brings to the village and community.

“There is always a tremendous buzz around for the week preceding the show, the village gets extremely busy with the ingress of visitors to their families and friends.”

VISITORS FLOCK TO HISTORIC WINDMILL
Visitor attractions such as Heckington Windmill were hit badly by the pandemic and have had to work hard to get back on the road to recovery.

But since reopening, the historic windmill which has stood the test of time more than once in its 193-year history has recovered well, with visitor numbers increasing last year and a projected increase on the cards this year.

Heckington Windmill Trust member, Jo Lewin said bank holidays and events have been particularly well attended and the trust is extremely grateful to its volunteer team for their hard work in bringing the site back into full operation since Covid restrictions ended.

“At the moment the windmill is not working due to storm damage,” Jo said. “But we are eagerly awaiting repairs that we hope will be carried out in the next two years.

“In the meantime we have Maud, our steam engine, which runs a milling machine where we can make our own oat flour, and together with our heritage Ruston engine we can mill our own stone-ground wholemeal flour, which are available at the shop at the mill, and also online via our website.

“The mill is a perfect place for families to visit with an award-winning tearoom which was voted as one of the top Quirky Tea Rooms in the country by Countryfile Magazine. It sells lunches, refreshments and most importantly cakes baked on site in our bakehouse using our own flour. Plus there is also a micro-brewery selling craft beers.”

The windmill may have strong links to the past but the Trust is forward looking in its thinking and in March this year it started a three-year ‘Engagement and Development Project’ which aims to increase activities available on site for visitors.

“This includes special events, craft and baking courses, and events and activities for children’s groups and schools,” Jo explained.

“We are also working towards increasing our volunteer numbers to help [with] all the new activities that we have planned for the next three years.

“We are a large heritage site run by volunteers, so we are always looking for new members for our teams, whether it is working in the tea rooms, running the shop, milling flour or baking cakes.”

Funding for the project came from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and ultimately from people who play the lottery.

“Their support enables projects like this to come to fruition and will allow us to expand our range of activities, and increase the numbers of visitors that visit the windmill, ensuring a sustainable future for this heritage site,” Jo said.

“Our website has a list of our upcoming events and activities and is always being updated with new projects coming online.

“Of particular interest in the autumn will be a range of craft and baking courses that will expand what people can learn about on site.”

EXPLORE HECKINGTON WINDMILL
Do you have family or grandchildren coming to visit, or maybe some friends from afar expected for the weekend? If so, you’ll be planning a trip out to give everyone some space, entertain, amuse and even educate, and even better still show why you like living in Lincolnshire!

To tick all those boxes and more, Heckington Windmill should be at the top of your list – it’s an iconic Lincolnshire landmark at the heart of a complex of attractions, including its own “Millers Tearoom” where you can relax and enjoy home baked cakes made from flour ground in the mill.

The agile among your group can explore the mill tower – stepping inside to understand this marvel of Victorian engineering, but everyone can access the visitor centre with its informative and interactive exhibition space – all enthusiastically run by mill volunteers.

Mark a memorable day out with a visit to the gift shop, where you’ll find a bottle from the on-site 8-Sail Brewery, a bag of flour to bake at home, plus the opportunity of taking some very shareable photos on your phones.

For more information visit www.heckingtonwindmill.org.uk

PROFESSIONAL GROUNDWORKS SOLUTIONS
If you’re looking for a reputable and reliable company to help resolve your earthworks and groundwork challenges, local specialists SE Hill Ltd deliver an outstanding professional service.

Whether you’re planning to build an equestrian arena of your dreams, or construct concrete stable bases, this friendly and efficient family-run business, which has been established since 1973, will find an affordable solution.

“We take pride in our standard of workmanship which brings us repeat business, with many clients in Lincolnshire,” says managing director Steve Hill. “We specialise in soil and water engineering, land drainage, ditching, site clearance, ground works, laser levelling, foundations, landscaping, ponds, lakes, reservoirs, specialist earthworks and track and roadway maintenance – plus a variety of equestrian services, always making sure that each job is completed above and beyond your expectations.”

For more information visit www.sehill.co.uk

SLEAFORD SCHOOLS JOIN FORCES FOR BRIGHTER FUTURE
Established as a Multi Academy Trust in 2015 by Carre’s Grammar School in Sleaford, The Robert Carre Trust aims to improve and impact positively on the lives and educational experiences of young people in the local community.

Kesteven and Sleaford High School joined the Robert Carre Trust from the outset and the governing bodies of both schools believe that this arrangement between the two schools provides benefits for young people of Sleaford and surrounding areas.

Together they offer the best features in terms of high quality teaching and learning, leadership, administration and governance.

The two schools continue to operate on the two current sites, sharing facilities, leadership and staff where beneficial, while students from both schools also have access to the Sleaford Joint Sixth Form.

The Robert Carre Trust (RCT) aims to cultivate a range of high quality provision which supports learners to achieve their full potential through clear progression pathways from primary to secondary school and into further and higher education, apprenticeships and employment with training.

“By working together, we will strive to create a genuine partnership of schools and academies of which students, parents, staff, governors and the local community are proud to be a part. This will build upon existing partnerships, traditions, academic achievement, and enrichment of the schools within the Trust for the benefit of its young people.”

Each academy publishes its admission arrangements, prospectus and school policies online. For information about forthcoming open events and tours, visit the website.

For more information see robertcarretrust.uk
www.carres.uk, or www.kshs.uk

ALL SYSTEMS GO AT MOUNTAIN’S BOSTON SAUSAGE!
Firmly established as a traditional butcher and popular farm shop serving high quality meats, delicatessen produce and much more, the family run Mountain’s Boston Sausage is celebrating the reopening of its popular restaurant The Bistro after a devastating fire last autumn.

The restaurant was forced to close for almost nine months while construction work took place, but the determination of the directors and contractors to get the business up and running as quickly as possible has been unwavering and the team is excited to launch a tempting new menu in smart refurbished surroundings.

“The restaurant has been extended to provide an improved dining experience with a new state-of-the-art kitchen. We’ve kept some of the firm favourites on the new menu, including our famous Boston Sausage and Mash, Full English Breakfast, Beer Battered Haddock, as well as our daily Chef’s Selection.

“We have created a new intimate dining experience where customers can look forward to a warm welcome from our dedicated friendly team with a choice of indoor and outdoor seating.

“We are also planning some special themed nights including our eagerly anticipated Steak Night scheduled for July – look out for updates and details via our social media channels.”

The farm shop’s delicatessen section has also been expanded to offer a wide range of cheeses, including Brie de Meaux, Smoked Lincolnshire Poacher, Cote Hill Blue, Snowdonia Black, Délice De Bourgogne and many more.

Inside the farm shop there is a wonderful selection of giftware, cakes, jams, chutneys, gins and local delicacies; customers can also enjoy a “grab ‘n’ go” snack at the FEAST food stall which serves gourmet burgers, hot dogs, weekly specials, tasty tray bakes and cakes, with a superb picnic seating area, children’s play area and dog walking paddock.

Mountain’s Farm Shop is open Monday to Saturday from 8am to 5pm and Sunday 9am to 4pm.

www.mountainsfarmshop.com

IT’S SHOWTIME!
Heckington Show returns on the last weekend in July with a stellar line-up of displays and lots to enjoy for a fun family day out.

For anyone with a Lincolnshire connection, whether you’ve moved here recently or lived in the village all your life, Heckington Show is a special part of the summer landscape – and for those curious to know more about this unique county there’s no better place to begin.

The show has been with us since 1863 and has roots going back more than 1,000 years. A team of local people – all volunteers – have made this not only a wonderful visitor experience, but also the largest village show in the UK.

Come to Heckington Show to enjoy the best of Lincolnshire with local food from plum bread to our famous sausages, see our farm animals from Lincoln Red cattle to Longwool Sheep and to watch competitors in cycle racing and showjumping.

Many who take part are local, but don’t think that means a low standard – Laura Kenny and Victoria Pendleton have raced here and breeders, athletes and producers come from across the country.

The show’s tradition means that taking part feels worthwhile and the big crowds help bring out the best in everyone.

Big crowds come to Heckington because there’s something for everyone. This year’s main attractions are the Vander Brothers Aerial Wheel of Death, Paul Hannam’s Quad Bike Stunt Show and the top Spice Girls tribute act 90s Spice playing Saturday night’s Firework Concert.

There’s so much to see, we recommend attending both days using the special two-day passes. You will discover a Heritage Village re-enacting history, an Activity Zone with hands-on fun for all ages, scores of trade stands, rural craft stalls and a traditional fairground boasting a steam carousel.

Regulars will find favourites to enjoy and a few surprises too, all thanks to the amazing volunteer team who combine their wealth of skills, talent and connectivity so magically for one July weekend.

ensures great value for money and was recognised with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in 2018. Heckington Show takes place on Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th July – tickets are on sale online now!

Visit www.heckingtonshow.org.uk to find out more and buy your tickets.

Photographs: Mick Fox



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