More prosperity ahead for bustling market town

Words by:
Glynis Fox
Featured in:
September 2022

If you love shopping, riverside walks and the arts, it’s a fair bet that you’ll love visiting Sleaford. By Glynis Fox.

The town is always an enjoyable place to while away some time, whether you plan to stop by for a short visit, enjoy a longer stay or are already local.

Step on to its high street and you’ll find a swathe of interesting independent traders and big brands, along with a plethora of places to eat and drink.

In its historic Market Place you can sit under the shade of a parasol and enjoy delicious al fresco food with views of the grand St Denys’ Church, Bristol Water Fountain and Sleaford War Memorial, or dive down one of the side streets to discover many cafés, bars and restaurants.

Areas in which to find niche businesses, apart from Southgate – a main route through the town – are Millstream Square, the Riverside Centre and the Bristol Arcade.

Riverside is home to a variety of shops and an extremely popular newcomer, the Community Grocery Store, which has got off to a flying start since opening its doors in July. This revived area is also the place to find optical services, the Post Office, cards and gifts, and clothing shops.

Nearby Millstream Square is another good spot to stop for coffee and you can also visit the gym, get your nails done, top up your tan and buy pet food in this area.

Bristol Arcade is the place to track down your favourite health foods, treat yourself to a cheeky bag of your favourite sweets and spend time choosing the perfect unique handcrafted gift for a friend.

If artistic pastimes and exhibitions are your thing, look no further than The Hub, where you will find a changing programme which showcases the work of wide-ranging designers, artists and makers.

Sleaford Museum is full of interesting exhibits and has even recently launched a Sleaford Top Trumps game together with Heritage Lincolnshire. Keep it in your pocket as you explore. Find out more at: www.heritagelincolnshire.org/projects/sleaford-trump-cards

The town offers plenty of activities when at your leisure or, if taking a more relaxed pace, you can follow the River Slea as it meanders through the town and discover natural spaces along its corridor, including Eastgate Green, Lollycocks Field and the Nettles.

TOWN INVESTMENT PLANS
Just like the Slea’s waters, there are exciting things bubbling under the surface of Sleaford, such as investments including those by North Kesteven District Council and partners.

Nothing is going to stand still. North Kesteven District Council has been allocated £3.3 million from the £2.6 billion UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF).

Visit northkestevenukspf.commonplace.is/ and sign up for updates straight to your inbox as projects from the investment plan are uploaded for viewing. Your feedback will help shape how they are implemented in our communities.

The UK Shared Prosperity Fund says the monies should be spent in three key areas: communities and place; supporting local business; and people and skills as well as with the over-arching aim of building pride in place and increasing life chances, and the investment plan consists of projects which aim to do this.

Expanded wayfinding signage is on the way too, which will better reflect all that Sleaford town centre offers by better highlighting its heritage assets, shopping, leisure, attractions and other key features, and across a wider area.

North Kesteven District Council is leading on it, with Sleaford Town Council and Lincolnshire County Council as key partners. This expanded signage will help Sleaford town centre remain a welcoming and flourishing place, with residents, stakeholders and businesses having been encouraged to help shape it.

EXPLORE NATURAL SPACES
Do you love cycling or simply exploring on foot? Either way Sleaford is ready to welcome you. There are a number of Stepping Out walks across the town – find out more at hillholtwood.co.uk/stepping-out-walks.

For those who prefer to pedal, there are routes and information at n-kesteven.gov.uk and lots of places across the town to lock up your bike while you stop for refreshment.

Two new routes have been added to the council’s cycle trails. One is the Spires and Sails, which is a circular route from Sleaford taking in various villages including Heckington. Read more at: www.heartoflincs.com/things_to_do/cycling-in-the-heart-of-lincs/

People can enjoy the nostalgic sounds of flour milling at Cogglesford Watermill, with its restored waterwheel powered once again by the Slea, following repair work funded by North Kesteven District Council, together with an improved visitor experience. Why not become a miller for the day, by booking your own experience at heartoflincs.com/things-to-do or pop along to one of its public milling days? This attraction is open from 12 noon to 4pm on Mondays, Fridays and weekends each week, for normal activities.

Nature lovers will enjoy exploring the many natural spaces within the town and can also find out about opportunities to volunteer – by joining with efforts to improve biodiversity at Lollycocks Field Nature Reserve, or donning waders to help with in-channel works in the Slea.

Find out more at hillholtwood.co.uk/looking-after-lollycocks or Lions at lions-uk.com for the Slea in-channel works. It’s all part of the Witham/Slea Blue Green Corridor project funded by the European Regional Development Fund, South Kesteven District Council, North Kesteven District Council, the Environment Agency and National Trust, and in addition to the wonderful groups and volunteers who also care for Sleaford’s green and blue spaces.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING AT THE HUB
If you love the creative world of arts, crafts and design but haven’t dipped inside The Hub in Sleaford since its £1.2 million revamp, you are missing a treat!

Today’s extended building is light and airy and it boasts everything from workshops to exhibitions and other events. There’s a café bar too.

Covid-19 put the brakes on plans to start the refurbishment project in spring 2020 (when it was also expected to stay open while work was underway). That meant the revamp, funded by North Kesteven District Council, didn’t start until summer 2020 and it was spring 2021 when it reopened to the public.

A change of name, from the National Centre for Craft & Design (NCCD) back to The Hub, coincided with the revamp and followed the 2018 merging of NCCD and the visual and performing arts organisation, artsNK.

The transformation of the former NCCD saw the ground floor of the building expanded into Navigation Yard, with a new jetty and outdoor seating – an inviting spot to sit for refreshments on a sunny day.

A new multi-purpose studio space accommodates workshops and sharing sessions run by The Hub dance team. It is also available for private hire events. The workshop and Roof Gallery, once situated on the fourth floor of the building, can now be found on the ground floor alongside an expanded and improved café bar.

Summer activities have seen the Hub’s August visitors enjoy a weekend Contemporary Makers’ Market, a Summer Dance School and regular Tuesday Family Workshop, as well as a variety of exhibitions and programme of workshops and events.

The Hub stocks a wide range of arty cards, wrapping paper and individual hand-crafted articles, making it a good place to find unique gifts.

EXHIBITIONS AT THE HUB
Craft Sustained
Now until 6th November – Main Gallery
An exhibition exploring and celebrating the work of artists, designers and craftspeople who are creating extraordinary works using renewable natural resources.

Look out for cultivated wares from fungi, bacteria and yeast, alongside objects made using waste from food production and industry.

From furniture, fashion and accessories to architectural materials, ceramics and sculptural objects, this exhibition showcases innovative collaborations between materials developers, makers and designers. It is a fascinating exhibition of sustainable and ethical craft and design.

Pottery Club: Good Enough to Eat? – Window Collection
Now until 18th September
Taking inspiration from themes centred around sustainable modes of living, essential survival and allotments; the growing of fruit and vegetables were on the menu for participants of The Hub’s Pottery Club this spring.

Good Enough to Eat? displays the ceramic work from club members, from beginners to advanced.

Welcome to My World: Ceramics with Narrative – Main Gallery
26th November 2022 to 19th March 2023
Catch a touring exhibition which brings together work by contemporary artists working with clay who create worlds of pop culture references, social commentary and political satire – all inviting you in through the makers’ inventiveness.

This showcase features some of studio ceramics’ most recognisable artists – including Richard Slee, Philip Eglin, Ian Godfrey and Stephen Bird and winner of the 2020 Ingram Prize – Connor Coulston.

MAD ABOUT MOSAICS
Bring a different dimension to your shopping trip or walk around Sleaford – by discovering the extensive trail of colourful mosaics that have popped up around the town.

Not just fascinating (and informative), these artworks provide ideal photographic opportunities for anyone with a camera or smartphone to hand.

Among those to look out for are the six panels celebrating Sleaford in Gladstones Yard, off Southgate; Power on the River Slea – look down to make sure you don’t miss the three mosaics on the footpath alongside the river – and The Water Life at the Leisure Centre.

Others include Beyond the Blues: six mosaics featuring Heritage Fruit Trees in The Nettles.

SLEAFORD COMMUNITY GROCERS
Shopping has become more of a pleasure and less of a chore for Sleaford families – following the arrival of one of the town’s newest stores.

Sleaford Community Grocers, which is based in the town’s Riverside Centre, only opened its doors in mid-July, but by the end of the month it had served 1,000 people and it’s still going strong.

The New Life Church team is behind this exciting initiative, which is having a double impact.

Importantly, it is helping to alleviate families’ worries at a time of tightening purse strings whilst, at the same time, tackling the problem of food waste head on.

As we went to press, the team was also eagerly anticipating the day when it can open a coffee shop in the next-door unit, as well as breathe fresh impetus into the neighbouring Mosaic Youth Hub.

One of the unique features of the food store is that it is open to all – making no distinction between shoppers who may, or may not, be on benefits.

The shop is following hot on the heels of Sleaford Community Larder’s work in providing more than 81,000 meals for about 6,000 people, who would have otherwise struggled to put food on the table during the pandemic.

That was when the church team realised that people’s struggle to feed their families was an issue that was certainly not going to suddenly disappear.

The grocery, which stocks everything from tinned and packaged food to fresh fruit, vegetables and frozen foods, is light and bright and there is an upbeat atmosphere.

Manager Dennis Obundu is delighted with the early success of the project and that the team, which includes volunteers, has received many positive comments.

“It is great to be providing affordable food for people and to make a dent in the huge problem of food waste. We are also proud to say that anyone can become a member for just £5 a year – no-one is means tested,” said Dennis.

Once people join, they can access two weekly shops for just £6 each – worth £25 at regular supermarkets. All the money paid is reinvested.

Products are supplied by the national food charity FareShare, local and national supermarkets.

“We have also had enthusiastic gardeners donating surplus fresh produce for us to sell in the grocery store, and we would welcome local farmers and other potential suppliers to pop in and see us,” added Dennis.

The store also offers household products and toys, as well as support services, volunteering opportunities, household budgeting courses and healthy eating cooking classes with recipe

Sleaford Community Grocers is open Monday to Friday between 9.30am and 4.30pm and on Saturdays between 9.30am and 3pm.

Anyone who wants to become a member, needs to register online at: https://communitygrocers.co.uk/

THE CARRE ARMS IS TOP CHOICE
Ideally located close to Sleaford’s railway station, amenities and shops, The Carre Arms Hotel and Restaurant is a warm and welcoming family owned and run hospitality venue.

It prides itself on providing excellent service together with home cooked dishes featuring quality fresh ingredients, much of which is locally sourced.

With 13 ensuite individually appointed bedrooms and conference facilities, this is a perfect choice for wedding receptions, civil ceremonies, parties, private dining and business meetings, as well as superb Sunday lunches and informal meals in the brasserie and bar, complemented by CAMRA real ales and an excellent wine cellar.

For more than 30 years, The Carre Arms Hotel and Restaurant has become renowned locally as a quality venue offering excellent value for guests in search of home comfort with a personal touch.

Here you will find delicious daily lunch and dinner menus featuring an eclectic mix of modern English, classic French and a pinch of Spanish, with afternoon cream tea served in the beautiful Victorian conservatory.

For more information visit www.carrearmshotel.co.uk

TURNBULL TEAM DELIVERS ON DESIGN SOLUTIONS
As Lincolnshire’s leading independent family-owned builders’ and plumbers’ merchant, the Turnbull group is a well established, respected business stocking a full range of building, plumbing and heating supplies, as well as offering a bespoke design service for kitchens and bathrooms.

Opened in 2003, Turnbull’s Sleaford showroom is the group’s longest established branch and is filled with inspirational displays to suit all tastes and budgets.

If you’re looking to create a personalised and relaxing family-friendly space which reflects your own individual taste and lifestyle within an affordable budget, you will find inspiration from the regularly updated displays.

The Turnbull team of experts are known for providing excellent customer service and product knowledge with sound advice for every project, plus an unrivalled after-sales service. With showrooms in Boston, Brigg, Lincoln, Newark, Sleaford and soon to be in Horncastle, Turnbull’s design team can expertly guide you through the process, helping you create the perfect space that not only suits your individual needs, but looks fabulous too!

• Enjoy a visit to the award-winning showroom in person: Turnbull Kitchens & Bathrooms, Woodbridge Road, Sleaford NG34 7EW.

• Open Monday to Friday 8am to 5pm and Saturday 8am to 12.30pm.

Tel: 01529 303032, or make an appointment with one of the design experts online: www.turnbull.co.uk/showrooms/

Photographs: Mick Fox



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