Louth gets active for the new season

Words by:
Melanie Burton
Featured in:
May 2022

With the holiday season now underway, places like the historic market town are gearing up for what they hope will be a busy summer – with a new scheme helping to enhance its public spaces. By Melanie Burton.

Located as it is on the edge of the Lincolnshire Wolds and just a short distance from the East Coast, Louth makes an ideal base for holiday-makers, day trippers and those wanting to enjoy a short break.

With lots of attractions on the doorstep, a variety of long-established independent family run businesses at the heart of the community and picturesque countryside all around it as well as sandy beaches a short drive away, Louth has something to offer everyone and is commonly referred to as the ‘capital of the Wolds’.

It is now the largest market town in the East Lindsey district covering an area of 4,394 square miles and has a population of approximately 17,000 with around 8,200 properties (2019).

Work is now underway to better enable the town to become a destination for residents and visitors where they can enjoy shopping in an open space, the existing café culture and the unique aesthetics of the area. By encouraging those who want to shop and travel to Louth to stay for more than just a quick stop, the Active Travel Scheme will see a boost for the area with more potential business for traders and services in the town.

The ideas and propositions behind the scheme were discussed with the county councillor, local businesses and then Lincolnshire County Council (LCC) consulted with the Town Council before formulating plans for the trial scheme.

It is often assumed that more parking is the answer to struggling high streets, but this is not supported by available research.

Studies have linked the quality of public spaces to people’s perceptions of attractiveness of an area, contributing towards their quality of life and influencing where they shop. Pedestrianisation can bring additional social benefits to urban centres – including boosts in economic activity. Studies from the UK have found an increase in trading of up to 40% across a number of pedestrianised sites.

In addition to the benefits of the pedestrianised area, and the encouragement of cycling and walking in the centre of Louth, general air quality is likely to improve.

Executive member for highways at Lincolnshire County Council, Councillor Richard Davies, said:

“There are many obvious benefits to Louth in terms of Active Travel and the benefits it brings. But it is vital that everyone involved, either directly or indirectly, understands and keeps in mind that this is a trial scheme that will evolve and develop over the next 18 months.

“During that time we will listen, very closely, to what residents and businesses tell us. The Active Travel scheme is not about making sweeping changes at a cost to established businesses and the needs of the town, but more about creating an improved relationship between people and the places they are encouraged to visit.

“We want to continue working with the people of Louth to make this scheme the very best it can be and bring to life a sustainable programme for the future of the town.”

After speaking to businesses and residents around Mercer Row in Louth, LCC decided to review some initial elements of its new Active Travel plan.

Barriers and planters currently in place on Mercer Row have been removed and planters used to close off access to Cornmarket, to denote the newly pedestrianised area. Changes to signage were also undertaken.

Councillor Davies added: “We listened to what concerns residents and businesses expressed to us at the start of the scheme.

“As with every step of this experimental scheme, we’ve taken notice of feedback and by doing so we are ready to make changes where appropriate – removing some of the unsightly barriers and replacing them with planters and ensuring signage meets requirements but doesn’t interfere with the needs of businesses in the immediate area.

“This scheme will be in place for 18 months and during that time residents and businesses will be able to submit feedback. If at the end of this period Louth decides that it doesn’t want the Active Travel plan then we can easily remove it.”

Louth boasts some fine examples of Georgian and Victorian architecture. It has also retained its medieval street plan and avoided the town centre changes that have spoilt many of England’s market towns.

It hosts a variety of markets including regular weekly events (Wednesdays, Fridays & Saturdays), a cattle market, monthly farmers’ markets, and thriving Victorian and Christmas Sunday Markets when thousands of visitors come to soak up the atmosphere and buy special gifts.

The town also has the Greenwich Meridian of zero longitude running through it. It is the world’s Prime Meridian for measuring longitude and travels north to south across the globe. The line actually passes through Cordeaux High School, one of only three schools worldwide to sit exactly on the Meridian.

Louth is also home to St James’s Church, a nationally acclaimed 15th-century perpendicular church with a 16th-century crocketted spire which rises 295 feet and is thought to be the highest parish Church of England spire in the country.

The town has many butchers, bakers, cheese shops, delicatessens and greengrocers all selling fresh, high quality, local produce. It also has its own museum which showcases the history of the town including its involvement in the crafts and trades of yesteryear.

Louth Museum is an award-winning visitor attraction in the historic town with four galleries, a library and a gift shop.

The galleries are home to such things as a back-lit panoramic bird’s-eye view of Victorian Louth, rocks and fossils of the Lincolnshire Wolds, 200,000 years of local archaeology, exhibits on the disastrous Louth Flood of May 1920 and the largest national collection of Victorian woodcarvings by Thomas Wilkinson Wallis.

The Town Gallery is focused on objects made or used in Louth and the people behind them. The Ludalinks Gallery joins up displays related to the course of the River Lud.

The tragic story of the Louth flash flood on 29th May 1920, which claimed 23 lives, is told in the Town Mezzanine Gallery with a walk-along floor map, photographs of wrecked buildings, related objects and newsreel footage of cleaning up after the flood.

The museum’s Panorama Gallery features an all-round view of the town and district as seen from the top of the spire of St James’s parish church on a summer’s day in the 1840s. It shows the pattern of streets and the market place, with a roofscape little changed today.

It is a digital replica of Brown’s Panorama, a remarkable 360-degree panorama, a snapshot in time.
The term panorama comes from the Greek meaning ‘all embracing view’ and Brown intended the viewer to feel as if the features of Louth had been placed before the eye at a glance, as if the spectator had the flight of an eagle.

William Brown was a family man and an active member of the local community. He was a Methodist preacher and teetotaller, and faithfully recorded life as the local correspondent for the Lincoln Rutland and Stamford Mercury newspaper, a position he held from 1839 until his death.
For most of his life he made his living as a housepainter.

In 1844 St James’s Church spire was struck by lightning and it is said that the tower and spire were split from top to bottom. Apparently, inside the church the fissures were large enough for the countryside beyond to be seen. Brown seized the opportunity to ascend to the highest point in the landscape, using the scaffolding erected to repair the structure, from which to sketch the surrounding landscape on seven panels of 51 degrees each and then he transferred his drawings to two 6ft by 9ft oil on linen canvasses.

Brown was 56 years of age when he began the transferral process and it took him two years to complete the original canvasses.

The intricate detail and accuracy employed by Brown render his Panorama a valuable historical record. And, once he had completed the painting he did not leave it alone but tried to keep it up to date, painting out things that had been demolished, such as windmills, and painting in new buildings like the Town Hall, not built until 1854.

After Brown’s death in 1859 the paintings disappeared, not to be found again for 92 years, when in 1948 the then Mayor of Louth, Wilfred Alex Slack happened to meet Mrs Whitehead, the wife of the vicar of Alford who said she had two ‘pictures’ which he ought to see.

The ‘pictures’ were in bad condition but the Mayor realised that the paintings had to be bought for the town and restored. With the help of a National Art Collections Fund grant and public subscription this was achieved.

In 2007 the paintings were cleaned and restored and now hang on display in Louth Town Council’s Old Court Room.

Louth is one of 13 sites in the Boston, East Lindsey and South Holland districts of Lincolnshire selected to take part in a project aimed at helping promote wildlife and reduce carbon emissions.

One hundred and forty fruit trees were planted by staff and volunteers as part of the ‘Grow the Network’ project which has built on the foundations of last year’s ‘Bearing Fruit’ project, which saw 10 community orchards planted across East Lindsey.

This year, orchards have been planted on 11 new sites, with the orchard sites at Belchford and Wainfleet St Mary’s being extended from last year.

Funding of £6,199.04 was awarded to the South & East Lincolnshire Councils’ Partnership by Natural England’s Nature Recovery Network Seedcorn Fund.

The ‘Grow the Network’ project will help to support a wide variety of wildlife, particularly pollinators, and this initiative will contribute to building better linkages in urban areas to assist in the delivery of a Nature Recovery Network – a major commitment in the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan.

The project will work with local groups to promote community cohesion and support green recovery from Covid-19.

The sites will play a contributory role in capturing and storing excess carbon from the atmosphere and support positive environmental impact.

The new community orchards are being developed in Louth’s Harveys Way and also in Fulletby, Spilsby, Mablethorpe, South Ormsby, Wainfleet, Alford, Spalding, Quadring and two in Boston.

The Lincolnshire Wolds Outdoor Festival, which runs from 30th April to 5th June, is a brand new event that encourages participants to get out and explore the stunning scenery of the Lincolnshire Wolds – a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – whilst taking part in an array of exciting activities. It also serves as the spiritual successor to the Lincolnshire Wolds Walking Festival.

There are more than 200 events and activities taking place during the festival across a multitude of locations including mountain biking, dancing in nature, fishing, outdoor movie screenings, golf, walking and cycling.

East Lindsey District Council’s portfolio holder for market towns and rural economy, Councillor Adam Grist, added: “The Outdoor Festival is all about encouraging residents and visitors to the area to try out something new whilst exploring the beautiful surrounds of the Lincolnshire Wolds.

“The Festival Programme is packed full of activities and events that will do just that and my thanks go to the team who have brought the festival to fruition and all the groups and businesses who have lent their support too.”

The Lincolnshire Wolds Outdoor Festival is developed collaboratively by a steering group of organisations, including The Ramblers, Lincolnshire Wolds Countryside Service, Active Lincolnshire, Stourton Estates, Heritage Lincolnshire, Lincolnshire County Council, North East Lincolnshire Council and East and West Lindsey District Councils; with East Lindsey District Council serving as lead delivery partner.

The Kings Head is a traditional old coaching inn situated in Louth town centre with a history going back some 250 plus years.

It has something to offer everyone, with good food created from locally sourced fresh ingredients and cooked to order. Their menus are served each lunchtime and evening in the downstairs Bar or Bistro, or alternatively Friday and Saturday evenings in the Upstairs@The Kings restaurant. Enjoy fine dining in cosy, Covid-19 safe surroundings. Reservations recommended.

All hotel accommodation has en-suite facilities, there is also a self-contained three-bed apartment within the hotel for groups or families visiting the area.

The pleasant garden area is perfect for summer afternoons, with heated and covered shelter for evenings. The hotel also provides a large dedicated customer car parking area.

Bookings can be taken for special occasions and menus prepared tailored to your requirements.
All subject to availability.

For more information Tel: 01507 602965 or visit www.kingsheadlouth.co.uk

Situated in Mercer Row in the centre of Louth, Woolliss & Son Butchers offers a wide selection of quality meats, as well as a select range of home-made award-winning pies which blend traditional and modern tastes using their own fresh, locally sourced meat.

The experienced team at this highly regarded family business also pride themselves on the quality of the ready prepared products and meat sold, as well as exceptional butchery skills. Here you will find a comprehensive range of quality meat products. Woolliss & Son Butchers also caters for those with a sweet tooth, offering a select range of cakes and bakes.

Open 8.30am–4.30pm, Monday to Saturday.

For more information visit www.woolliss-butchers.co.uk

Striacroft Jewellers is Louth’s longest established family jewellers. Now under the ownership of its second generation, this gem of a store offers a wide range of high quality diamond, gold and silver jewellery, engagement rings and wedding rings together with watches, clocks and a selection of gorgeous giftware.

A member of both the National Association of Jewellers and The Guild of Master Craftsmen, Striacroft Jewellers offers a variety of services including in-house jewellery and watch repairs, engraving, valuations and insurance. They cater for all budgets with items from as little as £10 to tens of thousands. Along with the selection of new items, there is also a large range of secondhand jewellery.

Among the leading brands stocked are Fei Liu Fine Jewellery, Amore Argento, The Real Effect and Henryka. If you’re looking for a perfect watch, Striacroft Jewellers are main agents for Citizen, Zeppelin, Iron Annie, Kronaby and Lorus watches and you will also find pre-owned luxury brands including Rolex and Omega.

Open Monday to Wednesday, 9am-4.45pm and Friday to Saturday, 9am-4.45pm. For more information visit www.striacroft.co.uk

Has anyone else been ready to pack away the coats and boots, and reunite with their favourite spring outfits since January? After spending the last two summers in lockdown, it’s no exaggeration to say we’re all ready for a good one this year. We may still be slightly wary of new variants emerging but whether you’re soaking up the sun during your first holiday in what feels like forever or social distancing in your garden, Orchid Boutique have some stunning summer fashion waiting for you.

Neutrals will never be out but bright and bold hues are very much in this season, with the added touch of pastels meaning we can experiment with heavy prints and eclectic colours. Rabe, Vionic and The Flexx for this season give us emerald and lime greens, mixed with shades of blue, whilst Monari and Geox add vivid orange to complement their pastels.

The demand and necessity for easy, yet luxurious, gorgeous clothes and shoes, means that with designs from Monari, Rabe, Bianca, Dolcezza, Frank Walder, Geox, The Flexx and Unisa, you can create outfits that will suit your individual style, that you can throw on in a hurry.

This season Orchid are pleased to introduce a new golf-wear range from Dolcezza, so you can dress to impress on the course, then simply add an on-trend trainer from Geox for relaxing in the 19th.

Arriving soon, gorgeous bright kaftans, perfect for around the pool or on the beach, which you can team with matching bags and sandals from Vionic for that perfect holiday style.

Orchid Boutique give customers the opportunity to try new styles, combining this with affordability, quality and service, customers really gain the best value from their purchases.

As one of the most difficult days of your life, making arrangements for a dignified departure of a loved one is never easy to deal with, but R Arnold Funeral Service’s compassionate team strives to support you in helping to arrange a respectful and personalised service.

As experienced and dedicated funeral directors, husband and wife team Lindsay and Richard Arnold, owners of R Arnold Funeral Services at 161 Newmarket in Louth, take time to talk to each client and listen to their individual needs, while also looking after and guiding you every step of the way.

Established in 1995, they are well respected members of the British Institute of Embalmers and National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors and offer a range of funeral plans to help cover costs.

“Having been a funeral director for the past 25 years, we understand the importance of traditional values,” explains Lindsay Arnold.

“We understand that this is a stressful time and understand that when it comes to planning a final farewell, the service should be as unique as the life it celebrates, so it’s important that we offer a personalised 24-hour service.

“As one of the most rewarding services you can offer, our compassionate, approachable team take time to talk to each of our clients, listening to their individual needs and looking after and guiding you every step of the way, offering guidance whatever time day or night that you might need us.”

For more information visit www.rarnoldfuneralservice.com

Photographs: Mick Fox

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