Independent retailers are pride of the town

Words by:
Glynis Fox
Featured in:
January 2020

Historic Brigg may be well rooted in the past, but it is quite innovative when it comes to providing locals and visitors with a delightful mix of shopping and services, writes Glynis Fox.

One of the most surprising things that first-time visitors to the town discover is its amazing mix of independent businesses, which include those tucked into the town’s courts and yards. All offer a warm welcome and service with the individual touch.

Equidistant from Grimsby and Lincoln – 25 miles – as well as nine miles from the steel making town of Scunthorpe and the Humber Bridge, Brigg serves a wide and diverse catchment area.

Its location on the River Ancholme in North Lincolnshire makes it highly attractive to leisure-seekers too. The Ancholme is a major pull for anglers from far and wide and loved by rowers, canoeists and pleasure boat owners.

Brigg also has a wide range of sports clubs, an extensive recreation ground and several children’s playgrounds, as well as the popular council-owned Ancholme Leisure Centre, with its large pool and lots of other facilities.

If you love getting creative, Brigg has plenty to offer, thanks to businesses like The Steel Rooms and Jaylaurs Sewing Studio, as well as the Brigg Arts and Culture Centre, which has been created at the town’s Sir John Nelthorpe School.

The Steel Rooms has been a popular feature of Brigg’s streetscape for the past seven years. This multi-faceted business, owned by Julie Steel, is based in Springs Parade, and is a magnet for people looking for a coffee stop, a bite to eat, arty gifts, leisure workshops and interesting displays of paintings and pictures. The business also sells small items of furniture.

“We deliver a wide range of workshops and exhibit works by local artists and people from further afield, but we also have our own art and design business. Our café can seat 45 people and we offer teas, coffees and lunches and cater for all dietary requirements, including those with vegan and gluten-free diets,” said Julie.

The Steel Rooms runs a packed programme of workshops, and there are plenty to choose from in 2020, including acrylic painting, felt making, willow work, collagraphy printmaking and digital photography.

Jaylaurs Sewing Studios in Wrawby Street is an even longer established business and a great place to find a wide range of colourful fabrics. The business offers workshops too.

Assistant, Lauren Brett said: “I think interest in sewing is growing. We are certainly really very busy. As well as selling a wide range of fabrics and sewing notions, we also do clothing alterations, alter curtains and make cushions.

“In 2020 we will once again be running our popular range of day and evening classes. Our classes cover everything from embroidery to patchwork, crochet and felting. We usually have between eight and ten people attending on each occasion.”

Brigg has several long-standing businesses, but it also has the power to attract newer enterprises.

JB Wallhead & Sons in Wrawby Street has been trading for more than 120 years and, unsurprisingly, has built up a strong following of local customers and those from miles around, who are looking for high quality men’s and ladies’ country wear and other clothing.

Owner, Richard Wallhead said the business continues to thrive on the back of welcoming, friendly service and the fact that it always carries an extensive selection of clothing and accessories.

A newer arrival among Brigg’s ladies fashion businesses is Molly Browns, which also has outlets in Beverley and York.

This January, staff in its North Lincolnshire store – based in the Market Place – are thrilled to be celebrating Molly Browns’ first anniversary in the town.

The fashion shop is the place to find both smart day wear and eye-catching evening and cocktail style, but it also prides itself as a ‘go to specialist’ for any mother of the bride or bridegroom determined to find the perfect outfit for an unforgettable day.

A spokeswoman said it is all about offering great friendly customer service.

“It has been an amazingly busy first year for us. In addition to our fashions, we are also delighted to be able to offer shoppers a full range of accessories, from handbags to fascinators, scarves and jewellery,” she added.

Husband and wife team, Nick and Mel Webb launched their independent bookstore The Rabbit Hole in Market Lane in 2017 – taking a leap in the dark which has certainly paid off, despite challenging economic times.

They had both taught for more than twenty years and worked mostly with children with special educational needs and youngsters in Pupil Referral Units and had long dreamt of having their own bookshop and helping to transform more children’s lives.

“We liked the look of Brigg and the fact that it has a number of independent shops,” said Nick. “We are always trying to get more authors in front of schoolchildren, and we work hard with schools. It’s all about encouraging reading for pleasure.”

But The Rabbit Hole is about much more than children’s books. The store, which has three rooms, also stocks books for adults, new titles, second-hand books, vinyl, CDs, pictures and paintings, so it’s certainly somewhere to enjoy browsing, as well as buying. The shop is open six days a week.

Excitingly in the New Year, The Rabbit Hole will be supporting a ‘first’ – the North Lincolnshire Children’s Book Festival, which is taking place at Pink Pig Farm, at Holme, near Scunthorpe on the weekend of 7th and 8th March.

If you’re looking for furniture and fancy a coffee stop at the same time – you can do both by checking out Grandad’s Shed in Wrawby Street.

Grandad’s Shed’s origins may lie in a small market stall, but today its two-storeys sell a wide range of furniture, home accessories, giftware and much more.

And when customers have finished browsing (and maybe buying!) some great pieces for their home, they can re-fuel by popping upstairs to The Loft and enjoying a selection of food and drink.

Brigg has many more niche businesses worth exploring, so why not visit, park up the car and take a closer look for yourself?

If you enjoy going to towns on market days, Brigg’s take place on Thursdays and Saturdays.

Anyone living in the town or moving into the area will discover Brigg is also home to an amazing number of clubs and community groups and there’s something for families who love everything from dancing to football, boating, sporting challenges, swimming and much more.

O’brien’s Opticians celebrated their 40th anniversary in 2019, as well as winning more accolades within the industry and from their clients for the outstanding expertise and service delivered by their team.

Optometrist, Dr Sheeraz Janjua heads the practice which was a finalist and runner-up in the Optician Awards 2019 UK Independent Practice of the Year. Dr Janjua was awarded the degree of Doctor of Optometry (DipSv) from Aston University in 2017 for his research in dry eye syndrome. At the time, he was one of only 25 optometrists in the UK with this qualification.

Supported by longstanding staff, new services were introduced, including dry eye and blepharitis appointments and treatment plans in a practice which already uses a state-of-the-art examination suite with optometric eye testing software.

“We take great pride in the precision calculation of spectacle prescriptions – using techniques honed over twenty years in optometry,” said Dr Janjua. “We diagnose, prescribe and supply specialist lenses for macular degeneration and I am also a Sport Vision specialist and consultant optometrist to Derby County Football Club and can supply sports eyewear such as Oakley and Maui Jim with sport specific lenses.”

The practice’s accessible location in Brigg attracts patients from across the county seeking specialist eye care. The practice dispenses specialist lens types, tints and coatings which can help people with various daily tasks such as driving (day driving and night driving), vision in low light levels and VDU work. Dr Janjua introduced specialist lenses from the USA for people with vision loss related to glaucoma, retinitis pigmentosa, diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). These special, prismatic lenses have been a huge success. The practice can now also supply revolutionary lenses that use honeycomb lens technology to improve vision for those who struggle to see very well.

The practice specialises in the finest German, Italian and Japanese quality frames including titanium and acetate frames. O’Brien’s are also official stockists of Lindberg – the best eyewear in the world. Their craftsmanship is unmatched by any other existing brands.

Patients can be referred via GP surgeries, eye clinics and Lindsey Blind Society while others make an independent decision to travel to Brigg from near and far for their diagnosis and eye care and new patient registrations are welcome.

If you would benefit from a comprehensive and individual consultation on the health of your eyes and vision, contact O’Brien’s Ophthalmic Opticians on 01652 653595 or visit:

Brigg Town Council is proud of the Angel Suite, which it opened in 1995, after the final phase of renovations to the town’s old Angel Hotel was completed.

The building acts as a community venue for the town. It can cater for almost any type of function, and is notably popular for wedding receptions and other celebrations.

The large hall on the upper floor is still referred to as “the ballroom” from its days as the Angel Hotel Ballroom, but the venue also houses a mid-sized lounge or meeting room on the lower floor.

The former inn sits in the heart of the town, so it is also the perfect place to meet friends for coffee or a relaxing lunch, in the Café Courtyard, or the Tudor Room “Snug.”

Do you know a person who should be recognised for their sterling support towards the wellbeing of Brigg?

If so, individuals and voluntary organisations are urged to nominate them for The Joseph J Magrath OBE Award for Public Voluntary Service 2019.

Brigg Town Council will present the person they believe has contributed the most to the town during 2019 with a Silver Rose Bowl – which they can keep for a year.

Your nominee might have given valuable service within a local organisation, to the old and infirm or to young people, to the cultural life of the community, within sport and leisure organisations, undertaken courageous actions, or actions which have increased the standing of the town.

Nominations close on Monday 20th January 2020. More information is available from Brigg Town Council on 01652 659402.

Brigg has strengthened its name as a place for culture and the arts, with the opening of a new £139,000 centre at the town’s Sir John Nelthorpe School.

The Brigg Arts and Culture Centre has been created on the Grammar School Road site, where the former school library has been sympathetically redeveloped to create a new entrance and reception area for the school. New toilets have also been installed, including disabled facilities.

The building is listed, so considerate steps were taken to improve it and bring it into the 21st century. The music and drama suite was refurbished to provide space for both visiting artists and local performers.

The new centre – which is accessible for the community as well as school pupils – will host local, regional and national artists, performers and groups, further boosting the profile of Brigg as a centre for the arts in North Lincolnshire.

North Lincolnshire Council Leader Councillor Rob Waltham said: “The Arts and Culture Centre is a brilliant space and we hope to see a range of artists visiting. We are also keen to continue working with local businesses and community groups to develop the centre further.”

The opening of the Centre formed part of the school’s ‘Our Place in Time’ anniversary celebration, in partnership with the Council. It celebrated 350 years (1669–2019) of education on the grammar school site and 100 years (1919–2019) since the inception of the Girls’ High School (subsequently sited on Wrawby Road).

School headteacher Robert Biglands said the new development marked a significant milestone for the School, Brigg and the wider community.

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