Quintessential market town

Words by:
Glynis Fox
Featured in:
March 2018

With evidence of spring everywhere in the picturesque Lincolnshire market town of Horncastle, Glynis Fox discovers local businesses gearing up for the forthcoming tourist season and warmer months ahead.
One of those hoping to put a spring into the step of the locals is Jake Whanstall, who opened the doors of his new state-of-the-art gym in January.

Born and raised in the town and a former pupil at Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, for the past ten years Jake has worked in the fitness industry in gyms in Horncastle and around Lincolnshire.

Now he has achieved a lifelong ambition by opening his own fitness facility, The Gym Horncastle, which is situated on the edge of the Boston Road Industrial Estate.

The Gym boasts two rooms, both kitted out with the latest physical fitness equipment. One is for those interested in weight training whilst the other caters to those seeking cardio and resistance machines.

“Since opening The Gym, I have had a very positive response from clients and hope to build on the initial success by offering personalised fitness programmes to help people achieve their individual goals,” said Jake.

The Gym is open to everyone aged 16 years and over, from complete beginners to the more experienced fitness seeker. Membership is available or you can simply pay for a single session.

For those who prefer different forms of exercise, walking is often their first choice. And Horncastle, being the gateway to the Lincolnshire Wolds, offers some of the best walking opportunities in the county.

To help find out about best assisted walking opportunities the Town Council promotes a Walkers Welcome programme. To find out more readers can log on to horncastlewalkers.co.uk.

Horncastle is a quintessential market town surrounded by farmland and one business ready for the busy season ahead is J T Friskney Ltd, a farm and garden machinery dealership that has operated in the town since 1909.

Well-respected in the area the business continues to thrive, although with current uncertainty in the commercial world it is not without its challenges.

Owner Eric Young said: “Over the years we have had to diversify to meet the changing business climate and have added workwear, DIY and horticultural products to encourage growth.”

Horncastle is noted throughout the country for its cluster of antique businesses and these remain a ‘go-to’ destination for collectors and lovers of all manner of curios. There are numerous and varied antique shops and venues in the town, should you be seeking items of furniture, jewellery or distinctive period clothing.

Originating in Roman times, and claimed in the Domesday Book of 1086 to be owned by King William, Horncastle is steeped in heritage and history with its cobbled streets, thatched houses and eighteenth and nineteenth-century architecture to explore.

Linked to this history for four generations, Myers has become synonymous with the town. The family currently owns Myers Quality Bakers in The Bull Ring, Myers Café and Tea Room and neighbouring Deli and also owns The Country Stile, a giftware and home accessories store, incorporating an art gallery, which can be found in High Street.

Like any good business, Myers does not rest on its laurels and for the coming year it is putting more focus on promoting its cheese wedding cakes, which according to Marie Myers is a trend that continues to grow.

“A lot of people nowadays want these alongside the traditional wedding cake. To create them, different rounds of cheeses are put together to create a tiered effect and then they are often dressed with various accompaniments and or decorations such as flowers,” said Marie.

“This makes for a showstopping alternative to a cheese board and we work closely with the couple to ensure their creation is tailored to their taste.”

Couples are invited to cheese-tasting sessions. Preparing specialist hampers is another new area in to which Myers are expanding.

“We want people to realise that these make lovely presents all year round for everyone, especially those difficult to buy for,” said Marie.

“We also continue to source new and exciting products for the shelves of our Deli and we are also looking to grow our range of locally produced products as the emphasis and demand for ‘local’ continues to grow.”

As the warmer weather really starts to step up, Myers is shifting the focus of its lunchtime range as people’s tastes move from savouries to fresh salads and it will be introducing several new lines, including pasta salads and wraps if that proves to be what customers want.

For those seeking out leisure opportunities in the town, The Lion Theatre, near the Red Lion Hotel in the Bull Ring, continues to host plays to entertain audiences of all ages.

This month (March) the popular amateur Horncastle Theatre Company is staging its production of John Buchan’s classic spy drama The 39 Steps which runs from 21st–24th March. In May the group will be performing another classic when it presents its version of Hobson’s Choice.

The theatre group usually stages six productions a year, as well as the ever popular seasonal pantomime, and is known to perform to sell-out audiences. It is home to two youth theatre groups as well. The Lion Theatre attracts visitors not only from Horncastle but also Louth, Woodhall Spa and elsewhere and is always keen to hear from new members who are eager to tread the boards.

The Town Council is already busy preparing a special events programme for when the town celebrates the 100th Anniversary of the end of the First World War. The events will take place over the Remembrance Weekend of 10th–11th November.

Organisations, local schools and businesses are all involved in the planning for what they hope will be an extra special series of events for the town with anticipation high for what will hopefully involve lots of the locals and bring extra visitors to the town.

Horncastle is a typical market town, its charter given in the thirteenth century, and down through the ages the markets have remained a strong draw for people from the town and further afield who are looking to snap up fresh produce.

The Markets are held on a Thursday and Saturday and a Farmers’ Market takes place on the second Thursday of the month. For more details visit www.e-lindsey.gov.uk/markets.

Situated just seventeen miles east of Lincoln, the town is also a good stopping-off point for those wishing to visit nearby Snipe Dales nature reserve and the historic Bolingbroke Castle, as well as for exploring the glorious countryside of the Wolds.

Visitors to the town should also check out the Joseph Banks Centre which celebrates the life and work of one of Lincolnshire’s most famous sons, a renowned botanist and explorer. The Centre is housed in a recently restored period building which is now home to a growing reference library, and is working towards establishing a research centre. The beautiful Tribute Garden also remembers this pioneer botanist. The Centre also includes a wonderful gift shop which supports local crafters and small businesses.

There has never been a better time to commission a specialist piece of metalwork for your home or garden. The expert team of fabricators and blacksmiths at Mick Toyne Engineering based at West Ashby have more than 30 years’ experience of discussing, sketching and fabricating bespoke pieces which will be unique to you. A choice of finishes is available.

Owner, James Wilderspin explains: “We provide a range of services as steel fabricators including on-site welding, steel supplies and fulfilment to the construction industry as well as general and agricultural engineering. We are also designers and manufacturers of ‘Rustic Ironworks’, contemporary sculptures and garden features.

“This is metalwork at its most creative and we love to work with clients to make their vision become a reality. We can bring alternative ideas to these pieces which make wonderful gifts and can be designed to mark a special occasion or redesign of a home or garden.”

James and his team pride themselves on using their artisan skills to produce designs which reflect contemporary styles, tastes and lifestyles. Their range of products includes gates, ornamental railings, fire baskets, grates, signs, balconies and balustrades. Purchase a piece from the ‘Rustic Ironworks’ range and you will receive a 10% discount.

When it comes to the safe disposal of documentation or computer hardware, there has never been a better time to call on professional help. Choosing to have your company waste disposed of professionally ensures that it is in line with the most recent government legislation in regard to sensitive data.

Data Shred offers a completely confidential and safe data disposal service, be it disused hard drives or the recycling of redundant paperwork. Data Shred operates throughout Lincoln, Louth and the surrounding areas. Their primary clients are businesses large and small, although they also offer services to private individuals who require a comprehensive secure disposal service. Whether you require destruction of computer hardware or sensitive documents, the team are always happy to help.

For more information about their confidential shredding, waste management, or any other services, don’t hesitate to get in touch. They will be happy to discuss which options would best suit you and offer no-obligation advice.

Call 01507 526872 or visit www.datashredlincs.co.uk

Dinah Ward at Horncastle Cake Art & Hobby House has been making cakes and teaching the sugarcraft for 25 years. Recently her orders included a snooker table fruit cake made for Ronnie O’ Sullivan, the snooker ace, when he played at a charity event in Lincoln. Another was for a fellow who would have been celebrating his 275th birthday – botanist Sir Joseph Banks. The Joseph Banks Society, based in Horncastle, marks this special occasion every year.

In the shop on North Street is a large selection of cake decorating equipment and lovely equipment and materials for crafts. Even Yarn Cakes – yarn that knits into striped shawls and scarves in a range of colours and weights – along with everything for the knitter, crocheter and crafty person.

Few businesses in Lincolnshire can boast the same pedigree as Robert Bell & Co, serving the county as a single partnership of Land Agents, Estate Agents, Auctioneers, Chartered Surveyors and Valuers for more than 200 years.

Historic local roots
Land agent and partner Robert Bell explained that he is the great, great grandson of George Bell who relocated to the county in 1842. “George was appointed, aged 38, land agent for the Revesby Estate. The estate had deteriorated following the death in 1820 of Sir Joseph Banks so the young new estate owner James Banks Stanhope recruited this knowledgeable and hard-working agent from a Scottish estate and together they began a programme of improvements which continued for over thirty years.”

Four local offices
Both Robert’s grandfather and father were articled and in local partnerships during their careers as land agents. The business which thrives today, Robert Bell and Company, was founded by Robert in 1988. The estate agency department has grown significantly since that time, whilst a new office in Horncastle was opened last year to accommodate the expanding lettings, auctioneering and commercial departments. There are additional offices in Lincoln, Coningsby and Woodhall Spa. An associate office in Mayfair ensures properties are marketed to a London audience and beyond.

A portfolio of services
The company employs five fully qualified RICS (Royal Institution) Chartered Surveyors, the world’s leading professional body for land and property accreditation. Head of the Professional Survey and Valuation department at the Horncastle office, Alastair Boulton has trained and qualified with the company as have many of his colleagues; Tony Wing, residential sales director at the Lincoln office, and land agent George Harrison.

“We are a service based company and were nominated for a customer service award as one of the top ten agents in the East Midlands last year. Skilled negotiators work hard to help clients achieve the best sale price together with the most rapid and stress-free sales plus our professional surveys are a sound investment to identify any risks prior to purchase. As members of the RICS, which ensures a duty of care in all of our dealings, clients can have confidence in our professional advice.”

Head of residential lettings, Chartered Surveyor Sharon Kirk adds: “We also act for more than 800 landlords, minimising their risks and managing more than 1,000 properties with a rent roll of more than £6m a year.”

One stop shop
The auctioneering team at Robert Bell & Co hold monthly furniture and six monthly antique sales at Stanhope Hall, Horncastle as well as off-site agricultural and livestock sales. The service is a useful addition for vendors who wish to dispose of household contents when a property comes to market, especially when probate is involved.

Unrivalled local knowledge
These offices and the 35 strong company team, serve an attractive and desirable central area of Lincolnshire where local knowledge is key to securing the best outcome for all parties. Alastair Boulton explained that of the £70m of property the company sold last year, approximately 60% was to local purchasers and 40% to buyers from out of the area. “There has been a growing trend of buyers from the south of England attracted by the quality of lifestyle and choice of properties in hotspots like Lincoln and Woodhall Spa especially. Prices can vary markedly even from street to street, house to house, so having the depth of local knowledge within our team is what sets this company apart.”

Old Bank Chambers, Horncastle,
Lincolnshire LN9 5HY
01507 522222
You can find out more about Robert Bell & Co at www.robert-bell.org

Ashby Park, West Ashby, near Horncastle is a holiday home and touring park set in the Lincolnshire Wolds with fishing lakes and conservation areas with thousands of trees. The area has been developed and landscaped over more than thirty-five years by Margaret and Robin Francis bringing more than 35,000 visitors to the area every year.

The park has 135 touring pitches, grass, hardstanding and super pitch. All the pitches benefit from electric hook-up. They have a dedicated, flat, level camping field situated close to one of the toilet blocks which benefits from an indoor washing up area.

They also have 135 holiday home pitches, divided into six distinct areas. Some overlooking the large lakes and ponds, some away from water hazards. All their holiday homes are privately owned and benefit from private patios and garden areas.

The park has several awards; David Bellamy has awarded a Gold award for the past seventeen years, and it has received a 4 star rating from the Tourist Board for several years.

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