Market Rasen – past, present and future

Words by:
Melanie Burton
Featured in:
November 2023

It’s all systems go as the town prepares for the festive season, while a new pilot project is set to help unlock the potential of the town’s heritage assets. Melanie Burton reports.

Standing as it does on the western edge of the Lincolnshire Wolds, the small, picturesque market town of Market Rasen has always been a popular place to visit, whether for just a few hours or an overnight stay.

It has plenty to offer with a rich heritage, renowned racecourse, a caravan park and great walking routes and trails just five minutes’ stroll from the town centre. The high street is home to more than 50 independent businesses and traditional, long-standing family run shops.

Market Rasen was originally known as East Rasen, with Middle Rasen being the more important location but it became prominent when it was granted the right to a market. Originally the market took place on Sundays, but was moved to Tuesdays in the early 13th century and is still an integral part of the town with all sorts of bargains up for grabs, including an auction every week.

Market Rasen is justly proud of its heritage and visitors can learn more about it through the town’s virtual tour, which takes you around the historically important landmarks including the railway station, housing a heritage centre with display boards and audio stories, and the Old Police Station where there are often art and history exhibitions.

The town still retains much of the character of its 19th-century heyday, and has stories dating back to pre-Roman times. This interactive tour allows you to explore the area and delve into some of the fascinating stories behind the buildings and locations seen today.

The historic character of the town is also being preserved through an innovative project run by West Lindsey District Council. Work has already been carried out on the building at 24 Market Place and it is the first major project to benefit from the Market Rasen Historic Buildings Grant Scheme. The District Council is working in partnership with a local steering group to help unlock the potential of the town’s heritage assets.

The work included repairing windows, roof repairs, reinstating columns and repairing columns known as pilasters and installing a new York stone step outside the front building. The shop sign will also be replaced with a hand painted sign. Once completed, the building will contribute highly to the historic diversity of the market place.

Councillor Stephen Bunney, Ward Member for Market Rasen, welcomed the work: “We are committed to supporting and protecting the historic buildings and their original features in our town centre,” he said. “Once complete, these works will not only give a boost to the area in terms of visual appeal, but it will also help conserve part of the town’s history. “Without schemes such as this, some buildings would be in danger of obliteration due to the worsening condition of the buildings.”

The grant will help fund work to improve and conserve buildings, using traditional materials and techniques. Local heritage representative Neil Taylor said it was great to see work progressing on the scheme.He said: “A lot of people in the town have a keen interest in this heritage project and will be looking forward to seeing the first building complete.

“It supports the reinstatement of architectural features, including ‘putting back’ lost features, such as traditional shopfronts, replacement windows or doors, and reversing alterations, which have damaged the character or appearance of the building. It also can include new, traditional hand painted signage, which is more in keeping with the properties.”

The schemes all help to improve the street scene and make the town a more attractive place to visit, which in turn means increased footfall – something the new mayor of Market Rasen is passionate about.

Councillor Jo Pilley was elected by her fellow councillors back in September, having been deputy mayor since May. She replaced Councillor Stephen Bunney, who stepped down from the role because of commitments as a county councillor and also as chairman of West Lindsey District Council.

Tourism and increasing visitor numbers will be an important focus for Councillor Pilley, who has lived in Market Rasen for five and a half years.

“When we first moved here I noticed there was nothing to tell me about the place,” she said. “This is something that needs looking at, maybe a seasonal outlet for a tourist information centre.”

Taking on the role of deputy mayor is councillor Alison Dales, making it the first time the two mayoral positions have been held by women at the same time.

Another boost for the town has been the recent accreditation of Market Rasen Leisure Centre to the YMCA Lincolnshire Age-friendly Business Network. Received as part of its commitment to the whole community, the facility, operated by Everyone Active in partnership with West Lindsey District Council, is only the third business in the town to receive this recognition.

The award gives customers the confidence to know that businesses meet a recognised standard in fostering a positive approach to ageing, and will support them in achieving their goals. There are currently around 210 recognised businesses and organisations across the county.

Market Rasen Leisure Centre received particular acknowledgment for its accessibility, friendly reception colleagues, the assistance they were able to provide in highlighting different activities on offer and the area’s notice boards and information wall. The café area was highlighted as a good place to meet and the range of activities offered was also praised.

The centre already offers walking netball and walking cricket, as well as weekly guided wellbeing walks. More recently, the team has introduced Zumba Gold for those wanting to enjoy all the benefits of Zumba without the high-impact moves.

Grace Tompkins, community development officer for YMCA Lincolnshire, said: “An Age-friendly Business helps in making a vital contribution to community life by helping to understand the needs of all ages and abilities, while intentionally focusing on the needs of older clientele.

Aaron Coy, team leader at Market Rasen Leisure Centre, said: “This recognition is testament to our team’s hard work over the past year. Everyone Active has a commitment to the whole community and so we set out to make the centre a place for everyone to share and enjoy the benefits of being active together.”

As chairman of West Lindsey District Council, councillor Stephen Bunney, said: “The team at Market Rasen Leisure Centre works hard and is committed to making the centre accessible and available to everyone. “The YMCA Age-friendly Award recognises its commitment to the community and its willingness to help customers partake in the use of the centre’s wide range of facilities.”

With the Christmas and New Year season just around the corner, Market Rasen is gearing up for an active social calendar with events planned throughout November and December.

It starts with the ever popular fireworks display at Market Rasen racecourse on 3rd November organised by Komodo Fireworks, which holds the accolade of being British Musical Fireworks Champion twice and has also won numerous annual fireworks champions and wedding display awards.The event will also have a licensed bar, large funfair, hot food and drink stalls, fire and LED acts, roaming entertainers and a DJ live set.

Remembrance Sunday will be marked on 12th November and the Christmas tree lights will be switched on at a ceremony on 6th December, which includes a visit from Father Christmas and children’s entertainment.“We have several events taking place from a Santa fun run to the Christmas lights switch-on and from Christmas lunches for those who have helped our community to carol concerts,” said Market Rasen Town Council clerk, Annie Lawson.

The Civic Carol Concert organised by West Lindsey District Council together with the Rotary Club and Market Rasen Town Council will be on 8th December followed by the Christmas Market the following day.

The Rotary Club has once again organised the town’s own Santa Fun Run which will take place on 10th December. A 2k run starting at the Market Place and finishing at the leisure centre, the event was held for the first time last year with a view to it becoming an annual fixture. The 11th December will see the senior citizens getting in the festive spirit with a Tea Party and on 20th December, Market Rasen Jockey Club together with the town council are providing Christmas lunch.

Celebrations have been the order of the day in Market Rasen this year and it looks set to continue into 2024 as well.

2023 marked the 50th anniversary of The Lincolnshire Wolds becoming an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The anniversary gave the chance to celebrate all that has been achieved in working to protect and enhance the Lincolnshire Wolds, its habitats and physical features, its heritage, culture, communities and management.

As part of this, the Lincolnshire Wolds Countryside Service, the Lincolnshire Chalk Streams project and Farming in Protected Landscapes organised a series of events to showcase, promote and engage with people who live, work and visit the Lincolnshire Wolds. From walks and talks to practical tasks and arts, there was something for everyone.

Celebrations continue into 2024 as Market Rasen Racecourse marks its centenary year with a special centenary celebration race programme planned for 31st March. As the only racecourse in the county, Market Rasen attracts visitors from far and wide, not only for its race programme but its music events as well.

From 1828 racing had been run on various sites on the outskirts of the town but in 1924 Market Rasen Racecourse found a permanent home.

The Legsby Road site was purchased in 1923 by six local men: Harry Abraham, Wilfred Cartwright, Robert Bygott, William Frearson, Robert Fletcher  and James Henry Nettleship.

The racecourse was a purpose-built site with a capacity of 1,700 where racing was held more than once a year from April 1924 (1888-1923 was a once-a-year event on a national holiday).The first meeting at the new site took place on Easter Monday, 1924 with Have A Clue being the first winner on the course.

After the declaration of the war, the racecourse was requisitioned by the military and was used in succession by the Yorkshire Hussars, the Welsh Fusiliers and the Hampshires. The buildings erected by the three different squadrons were used to house prisoners of war who helped with the maintenance of the course. However, contractors were only allowed to mow the grass twice a year. Recent developments included the return of national television in 1998 after an absence of 16 years, the appointment of a turf consultant to advise on the continuous improvements to the course and a new winners’ enclosure and dual-purpose walkway.

Victor Lucas was responsible for the running of the course from 1945 until his death in 1971. He planned the layout of the course, paddock, parade ring, stands and weighing room, which remains largely in place today. During this time the fixture list was expanded from three meetings each year to a total of 12 in 1967.

The course’s Boxing Day fixture is always highly popular, attracting more than 7,000 race goers every year. It is a great chance for families and friends to continue the festive feeling, with many people in Lincolnshire enjoying a chance to go to the races. The Neigh and Play Playground has also been a very popular feature since being installed, encouraging people to bring along their children for race days.

Born out of owner Leyla Keeber’s lifelong passions for sewing and dogs, plus a desire to eliminate plastics from daily life, Wool ‘N’ Woofers offers an exceptional range of pet beds.

“Wool’s natural properties make it the perfect filling for cushions and beds, keeping cool in the summer, warm in the winter, and being naturally odour-resistant keeps dog beds smelling fresher for longer. It is also hypoallergenic and dust mite resistant, a perfect choice for allergy sufferers,” says Leyla.

“Each piece, handmade from my home in Wragby, features 100% wool fillings and quality natural materials, such as cottons and wool herringbone, to provide ultimate natural comfort.”

The range, which also includes cushions, features a variety of sizes in attractive country style designs with a made-to-measure service also available.

Available online via or find at the Market Rasen pop-up market on 28th October.

Duckworth Motor Group has a remarkable history intertwined with engineering.

In 1952, James Duckworth, a skilled engineer, relocated to Lincolnshire, laying the foundation for the family’s legacy.

Martin Duckworth, James’s son and also an avid engineer, developed a fascination with motor vehicles and at the age of 12 he worked part-time at a Lincoln garage nurturing his passion. In 1962, Martin and James established their own village garage.

Driven by Martin’s love for Land Rover and with a customer base favouring the Defender, the Duckworths sought an official Land Rover franchise. After years of effort, in 1980 their perseverance paid off.

The family renovated a derelict workshop, which is still home to the Market Rasen branch today, to accommodate a showroom and workshop.

In 2002, Ben Duckworth, Martin’s son, joined the business, bringing with him a Land Rover apprenticeship and HND in Motor Manufacturing.

Ben took over in 2007, opening a flagship JLR showroom in Boston in 2017, and a showroom at Kirton, Boston, specialising in Isuzu and used-approved vehicles.

Today, the group thrives with more than 150 staff across three sites. Their success is fuelled by an unwavering dedication to customer satisfaction and a loyal clientele.

With a passion for Land Rover and a commitment to engineering excellence, Duckworth Motor Group is the place to go for Land Rover in Lincolnshire.

Duckworth Motor Group continues to be a huge part of the local community in many ways from sponsoring Market Rasen and Louth RUFC’s shirts to supporting the Market Rasen Beer Festival, numerous local fundraising Golf Days, as well as the recent Food & Drink Festival.

For more information visit

Ideal for animal loving students in search of hands-on training, Rase Veterinary Nursing College’s diploma course provides a gateway to a successful future.

With a nationwide shortage of veterinary nurses, there has never been a better time to consider training for this rewarding profession.

Opened last year, Lincolnshire’s first veterinary nurse training college in Market Rasen, supported by local veterinary group Rase Vets, has seen a growing number of students applying for places on its two-year diploma course in Veterinary Nursing.

This modern nursing college facility, which opened in a former bank building in the town’s Market Square last autumn, is accredited by external awarding body Vetskill with its VTECH Level 3 diploma course recognised by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.

The course commences in September each year with just 14 student places available.

Head of centre, Norrie Graham MRCVS from Rase Vets said the course is proving extremely popular and the response from current students, who will graduate in autumn 2024, has been overwhelmingly positive.

“Our end-of-year feedback showed that students found their first year on the course a positive experience and were enjoying the learning journey alongside their peers.

“All our training is face-to-face and we are the first establishment of this kind in Lincolnshire that is veterinary led.”

Recent research has shown that veterinary nursing offers rewarding career opportunities for people interested in animal health and welfare and with the demand for veterinary nurses increasing, employment prospects are excellent.

The idea to set up the county’s first veterinary nursing college was initially formulated during the Covid pandemic. It took 12 months to successfully apply, and complete the accreditation process with a further six months for internal building works to be completed.

“Veterinary nursing students locally struggled with remote learning during Covid and the situation reiterated the importance of the face-to-face learning experience. We found there were sufficient numbers of nursing students in the local area to warrant setting up an independent nursing college.

“We chose to base ourselves in a previous prominent bank building due to its central location within the market place, as it was also a great opportunity to contribute to regeneration of the town centre.

“The physical size of the building was a large enough premises to cater for the facilities that we needed to provide for the students without having to get a change of use for the building.

“There were many internal upgrades required, as well as electrical and fire safety changes in order to bring the building in line with modern health and safety standards.

“We subdivided the main lecture theatre into two rooms: the lecture theatre itself and the Hubble, a quiet study area with resources which include books, and we kept the old bank vault structure to use as an additional teaching area.

“The whole ground floor is dedicated to student learning with a large reception area, a well-lit lecture theatre for 14 students, a wet lab (for practical classes) as well as kitchen and toilet facilities.

“We also had to get final approval from the end point assessors who have stringent requirements for examination room layouts.”

According to Norrie, there is currently a national shortage of staff in veterinary practice and the college course has been designed to help address this.

“Trained veterinary nurses are able to work with some autonomy, as well as assist the vet, therefore it is a growing role which requires many skills and sound knowledge that provide a lifelong career.

“The ideal candidate needs to be practical, flexible, have an enquiring mind and be pragmatic.”

During the two-year course in companion animal veterinary nursing, students learn about professional responsibilities, laboratory work, diagnostic imaging, nursing care, pharmacy, surgical theatre management, including anaesthesia and nutrition, to name a few of the main topics of study.

“Students are required to do practical training working in a veterinary practice alongside the course.

“The course is companion animal based but there is an opportunity to spend time in an equine and zoo practice if a student has broader interests.”

The course, which is run over 24 months on a day release basis, can be undertaken by anybody over 16 who is employed within an approved veterinary nurse training practice.

Students (who are required to have a minimum of five GCSEs at grades of A-C /4-9 including maths, English language and science) spend one day a week at the college in Market Rasen and the remainder of their time with their employer in clinical practice working a minimum of 30 hours per week.

Upon successful completion of the course, students are allowed to apply for professional registration with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.

Expert staff
Head of centre, Norrie Graham BVSC MRCVS is an experienced veterinary surgeon who runs a large local veterinary practice and set up the Rase Veterinary Nursing College.

The course has been written and is taught by veterinary surgeon, main lecturer and programme leader Becky Brooks MRCVS, who has a wealth of teaching experience.

Becky has worked as a vet in practice for 30 years and is also a qualified veterinary physiotherapist, having worked in nurse training and teaching vet physio students, as well as lecturing in Veterinary Physiotherapy at Nottingham University Vet School.

Internal quality assurance (IQA) is led by Rachel Cooke RVN, an experienced veterinary nurse in teaching and assessing qualifications. She is also an objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) examiner.

Fellow lecturer and assessor Tracey Oliver RVN is an experienced veterinary nurse who also has teaching and assessing qualifications with many years of experience working in local practice.

Role of veterinary nurses
The college is independently funded and welcomes anyone eligible for an apprenticeship, as well as taking on private students, with the two-year course costing £15,000.

“Prospective students who meet the criteria and want to apply can send a copy of their CV via the college website and a member of our team will be in touch with further information.

“The role of the veterinary nurse in modern clinical practice is a team role, providing care to sick animals in what can be emotionally charged situations and strong people skills are an absolute must.

“Nurses find themselves providing crucial support to their veterinary surgeons and clients alike. Whether you find yourself in theatre, or in an out-of-hours role (sometimes both), the job is both satisfying and challenging, yet flexible enough to cope with work/life balance expectations.

“The college is a new platform for training that offers opportunities to people from the local area, whilst also providing the skillset to people for a lifelong career in veterinary nursing.

“There has been a lot of work involved in the first year of setting up the curriculum for the students, but the results so are positive and we are ready to adapt for the future needs of the profession.

“Lincolnshire has historically suffered from a lack of investment in this sector and we are delighted to provide this opportunity to the young people of the area.”

To find out more about a career in veterinary nursing, contact RASE Veterinary Nursing College email: or visit

The Advocate Arms stands proudly in the heart of Market Rasen. This historic building, which was built in the 18th century, has been refurbished to the highest standards with a contemporary feel, yet retaining a warm and welcoming character in which its guests can relax and unwind.

A favourite haunt for locals and visitors alike, the Advocate Arms Hotel boasts diverse options for dining and cocktails.Our chef patron Matthew Horsefield presents a menu of luxury comfort fare and innovative creations so whatever your delight, we offer highest standards.

Our award-winning team is ready to assist customers, seven days a week, from serving breakfast/brunch to evening dining, we are sure to be able to tempt our customers.

Fancy a night away? Check in to our AA 4 stars restaurant with rooms!

We also offer bed & breakfast rates and great value dinner, bed & breakfast rates too.

For more information visit

As Market Rasen Racecourse prepares to mark its centenary milestone in 2024, it continues to be a beacon of sporting excellence, captivating generations with thrilling races and unforgettable moments.

Opened in 1924 with an original capacity of just 1,700 people and just three fixtures per year, Market Rasen now hosts more than 20 jump racing meetings annually, as well as various conferences, events and live music concerts.

The original racecourse, built in 1923 on 50 acres of land, officially opened its doors to racegoers on Easter Monday, 21st April 1924 with admission fees starting at just 10p per person for stand, ring and paddock access.

During the war, racing was suspended, and the racecourse served primarily as a residence for Italian prisoners of war who helped maintain the grounds until racing resumed in 1946.

Lincolnshire boasts a rich history in steeplechasing with the first-ever recorded races held before 1820 – which had just two contenders, was run over 10 miles and included 120 jumps! From 1821 a more reasonable and renowned series of matches, covering distances of up to 10 miles and possibly including up to 80 jumps, were established.

These races evolved to become the precursors to the Market Rasen Spring Meeting, an annual event held on Easter Monday, situated on lands offered by various local landowners.

Since its inception, Market Rasen has seen a number of innovative changes, including the addition of summer racing which was introduced in 1995, along with six other courses in the UK.

Another significant annual highlight is the cherished Boxing Day meeting, an integral part of Lincolnshire’s Christmas festivities, drawing thousands of spectators each year.

For more information visit
Tel: 01673 843434 Follow on Facebook, X and Instagram

Wold View Bespoke Container Conversions offers affordable solutions for custom-built spaces, to suit your individual requirements.

If you’re looking for extra space in your garden or outside area, Wold View Bespoke Container Conversions offers affordable solutions for creating instant additional rooms or offices.

A well designed converted container is ideal as a stylish home office, home gym, sun room/entertainment room, recording studio, or even luxury living – all designed to suit your individual specifications.

The containers, which are made of steel and are available in 20′, 30′ and 40′ lengths and 8′ widths, can also be welded together and placed on top of each other.

Fully watertight and secure, the conversions are insulated and warm, benefitting from an additional outer skin with a decorated interior offering a warm, dry and safe construction.

The converted containers feature a wood cladding outer covering. Customers can choose their preferred material together with uPVC doors and windows, while shape, size, interior design and exact position requirements, plus heating systems, water and electricity supplies can also be added.

With secure lifting points fitted as standard, smaller units can be easily moved from one location to another, depending on access to site, while larger constructions may need to be dismantled to enable easy transportation, which can all be arranged by the expert team at Wold View Bespoke Container Conversions.

Strong and durable
“Based in North Kelsey Moor, we can deliver anywhere in mainland UK. Costs are entirely dependent on individual customer requirements for type of insulation, cladding, exterior covering, and interior decorating and fittings and fitments. If customers give us exact details of what they require, we will work out a quote for each and every type of conversion we can provide.

“If maintained correctly, our units will last as long as the owner’s house as well as its future occupants. The container’s natural build ensures longevity even in the most hostile of environments, however once insulated and covered that longevity will be increased, as long as well looked after.

“From quirky extra living spaces to unique office conversions, Wold View Bespoke Container Conversions offers endless possibilities!”

For more information about Wold View Bespoke Container Conversions tel: 07722 593694

Photographs: Mick Fox

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