Spotlight turns on town

Words by:
Melanie Burton
Featured in:
November 2013

The quiet market town of Brigg in North Lincolnshire might not be huge in size or population but it is big in all it has to offer tourists, shoppers and residents.
Progressive in its thinking, Brigg has managed to move with the times without losing its traditional market town character and there is a quiet ambience in the air as you walk through its streets.

But don’t be fooled by the peace and quiet – there is a plethora of retail units, eateries, hostelries and long-established businesses to cater for all interests, needs and tastes.

And in the New Year, the name of Brigg will be promoted further afield. Brigg Town Business partnership, which formed in 2011 to support local independent traders in the town, has teamed up with the Grimsby Institute’s Channel 7 television station and will be advertising the town on the new community Freeview television channel eight next year.

Partnership member Jane Kitchen said filming in the town has been completed and the adverts are being edited ready for broadcast.

“They will be shown at the partnership’s annual general meeting with a view to them going live in January or February. It’s a big thing for Brigg and it is aimed at promoting the town and its independent retail shopping experience,” she said.

Brigg is a historic market town on the edge of the Lincolnshire Wolds. What sets it apart from many towns is the number of quality independently owned shops and boutiques. Instead of the stores you’ll find on every high street across the country, Brigg’s attractive paved streets and courts are home to kitchen and lighting specialists, quality clothing boutiques, traditional family-run butchers, housewares stores and even a traditional sweet shop.

The old town is centred on the Market Place and the adjoining streets of Bridge Street, Wrawby Street, and Bigby Street. All are easily accessible and linked via passageways which used to contain the town’s poorer housing back in the nineteenth century.

One such passageway is College Yard which was the location of a small row of cottages inhabited by Irish workers, housing as many as fourteen at one time. Nowadays it provides a row of shops, each offering unique items – such as the delightful Country Cottage tea room and health store.

There are a number of buildings in the town centre which date back to the late 1700s or early 1800s and which are listed, with the old town as a whole being designated as a Conservation Area.

Because so many of the businesses in Brigg are independent, it helps to retain the character of the traditional high street, and the town has more than its fair share of long-established traders too.

They include Wallheads outfitters and town and countrywear shop, which has been part of the Brigg scene for 116 years making it the oldest independent retailer in town.

Located in Wrawby Street, this family-run business was founded in 1897 and sells everything for the well-dressed man. Current owner Richard Wallhead has been in charge for more than fifty years.

“It was founded by my great-grandfather and my son James is the fifth generation of the family,” he said.

“We must be the oldest established business in the town and in the same location. We sell men’s and ladies’ countrywear, clothing for all occasions, from belts and socks to shirts, suits and jackets and brands including Barbour, Schöffel, Aigle and Le-Chaneau.”

Jaylaurs Sewing Studio has traded in Brigg for more than twenty-five years and stocks the largest range of dress fabrics, craft fabrics and fat quarters in the area. It’s an Aladdin’s Cave of ribbons, buttons, threads and accessories for all sewing requirements.

Grandad’s Shed is a second generation run business and has a home furnishings section on the ground floor and a Loft restaurant /bistro on the upper level, which was opened in 1995 and has gone from strength to strength.

Owner, Paul Keane said bespoke furniture now makes up more than sixty per cent of orders.

“Here at Grandad’s Shed we find our clients appreciate the investment they are making in quality and craftsmanship but at prices that are within reasonable reach,” he said.

Cabinet makers in Brigg are used to make up the pieces and materials are also sourced from local sawmills. Orders can range from a single piece to complete kitchens.

Grandad’s Shed also stocks giftware and ornamentation for interiors such as pictures, lamps and fireside accessories.

It has been a hectic time for Paul and his family. New menus were introduced at the upstairs Loft restaurant/ bistro featuring lighter, more health-conscious options and even more locally sourced produce is included in the salads and popular lunchtime meals.

He also opened the Courtyard Café in the atrium of the Angel Hotel building, which has breathed new life into the venue with an already popular menu of Stokes’ coffees, afternoon teas and home-made cakes and scones.

“I have been delighted with the reception the Courtyard Café has received and how the events programme in Brigg is drawing people to the town centre,” he said.

“My next goal is to undertake some refurbishments to Grandad’s Shed’s ground floor, to open up the back of the shop to give us more floor space.”

Brigg also has a long history of traditional markets that spans more than 800 years. For centuries it has been home to a popular Thursday street market that now sells everything from locally grown fruit and vegetables and fresh Grimsby fish to sheepskin rugs and handmade crafts.

There is a smaller general market every Saturday which is joined on the fourth Saturday of the month by the award-winning farmers’ market. John Savident, Coronation Street’s Fred Elliot, opened Brigg Farmers’ Market in June 2000 with only fifteen stalls. In 2009 Brigg won the FARMA award for Rural Farmers’ Market of the Year. Brigg Farmers’ Market has everything from artisan breads, tasty preserves and botanical chocolates to fresh meat, locally brewed beer and ostrich burgers. It attracts around 5,000 shoppers to the town each month, providing a huge boost to the local economy and encouraging many food specialists and delicatessens to open.

Brigg is fast developing as a foodie town, complemented by quality inns, restaurants and cafes. But Brigg is not just about dining and shopping. The town offers delightful riverside walks, historic buildings and summer events. There are craft shops offering family activities, ghost walks in the winter months and the fishing and cycling are hard to beat.

In the paved Market Place is The Angel, a seventeenth-century coaching inn which has seen a new lease of life over the summer with the opening of a new library and the stylish Courtyard Café.

The Angel is also home to the Brigg Heritage Centre, which opened in June and is a free admission attraction that tells the story of how Brigg developed as an important crossing point on the River Ancholme.

The Heritage Centre is the town’s newest asset and hosts glass cases with artefacts from Brigg’s past, found in the regions that make up the River Ancholme, including Brigg, Wrawby, Scawby and Elsham. 

A Bronze Age ‘raft’, which had been stored away for nearly forty years at a London Museum, is finally back where it belongs.

The sewn-plank boat, commonly labelled as the Brigg ‘Raft’, was found in 1888 by workmen, between the old and new River Ancholme, but it was then reburied and lost to sight for nearly 100 years.

In 1974, archaeologists from the National Maritime Museum excavated the Brigg ‘Raft’ and took it to London, where it was preserved and stored. However in 2011 the museum agreed to loan the boat to North Lincolnshire for conservation and display.

Now the ‘Raft’, which dates from 900BC, has returned to the town and is on show in a purpose-built case at the new Brigg Heritage Centre. It is the first time it has been on display in the local area since its excavation in 1973.

And work is currently being carried out on the phase two displays, which are being funded by LEADER and WREN.

Phase One displays tell the story of the Ancholme Valley from the Prehistoric age to the end of the Medieval period. Phase Two will bring the story up to the modern day, including the draining of the Ancholme, the development of Brigg, local industries, country houses in the Ancholme Valley and the Ancholme during the First and Second World Wars. There will also be a costume display featuring costumes from the North Lincolnshire Museum Service collection.

Brigg Heritage Project Group chairman, Councillor Rob Waltham said: “Brigg Heritage Centre is a fantastic venue that shows just how great Brigg’s heritage is. It is wonderful to see the Bronze Age Brigg ‘Raft’ back in its home town and the centre is the perfect place for the ‘Raft’ to be on display.

“We are currently working on Phase Two, a £100,000 extension to the Heritage Centre, which will allow visitors to discover more of Brigg’s social history, bringing it up to the modern day. Complete with a café offering delicious snacks, it’s a great place for families to visit.”

Brigg MP Andrew Percy will officially open Phase Two of the Heritage Centre on Friday, 29th November at 5pm, in the town’s Market Square.

WREN managing director, Peter Cox said: “WREN makes a difference to people’s lives by awarding grants to community, environmental and heritage projects across the UK. We’re delighted to support Brigg Heritage Centre and their valuable work.”

The funding is being made available through the Northern Lincolnshire RDPE LEADER programme (Rural Development Programme for England), which is jointly funded by Defra and the European Union.

Brigg Heritage Centre is set in The Angel, a former seventeenth-century coaching inn, and is run by the community.

Christmas is coming and the shops in Brigg are getting ready for the beginning of the season of goodwill, which is heralded by the traditional festive fayre.

This year it is taking place on 29th November, from 5pm to 8.30pm, and coincides with the switching-on of the Christmas lights, which is organised by Brigg Town Council and performed by Scunthorpe Plowright Theatre’s pantomime cast.

There will be craft and charity fundraising stalls providing all the sights, sounds and smells of Christmas and a full evening of Christmas entertainment for all to enjoy. The Christmas Fayre is organised by Brigg Lions and it is one of the highlights of the town’s calendar.

Mike Johnson from the Lions said there will also be late-night shopping in the town.

“The Christmas Fayre has been running for some years and has been organised by the Lions for the past five years or so,” he said.

“It centres on Market Place, Wrawby Street the main shopping areas of Wrawby Street and the Angel Suite, and largely consists of craft and charity stalls – sixty of which are in the streets and fifteen in the Angel. There will also be children’s rides in the Market Place and at the top of Wrawby Street.”

Brigg Lions Club was formed in 1968 and has about thirty members. It has organised a beer festival in the town for the past twenty-four years and a cider festival for three. Each October, the Lions hold a Race Night to raise funds for a specific cause and this year it was in aid of the proposed Food Bank.

Brigg Lions is part of Lions Clubs International which has 1.4 million members worldwide. It promotes sight-related projects, largely to encourage and educate people to have regular sight checks, and also runs a Message in a Bottle (MIB) scheme for vulnerable people, which provides small pots containing a form detailing emergency contacts, medical conditions, medicines taken and other information.

“The idea is that there is an MIB sticker on a person’s door so that if the emergency services are called they know there is relevant information in the fridge,” explained Mike.

“Every penny we raise in our fundraising events is given to charity. About ninety per cent is spent locally and ten per cent internationally (largely, in the latter case, on clean water and sight projects in the developing world). The costs of running the club are met by members personally, from their own resources.

Brigg and all it has to offer will be shown on digital television next year.

A film crew has been out and about in the town gathering footage to be used for a series of adverts which will be broadcast on the new community Freeview channel eight.

The town’s Brigg Town Business Partnership has teamed up with the Grimsby Institute’s Channel 7 television station to produce the advertising campaign.

Partnership member, Jane Kitchen explained that the idea behind the adverts is to try and attract more people into Brigg, not just for shopping and dining but to enjoy the events that are held throughout the year and the tourist attractions.

“It is all to promote Brigg. Filming has taken place from Bridge Street right the way down Wrawby Street, at the Farmers’ Market, by the river and also at our Briggstock event in the summer and only shops and businesses that are members of the Partnership are featured in the adverts. It’s a big thing for Brigg and it is all about promoting Brigg and its independent shops.”

Channel 7 is the UK’s longest-running local television station and reaches approximately 140,000 homes in North and North East Lincolnshire on Virgin Media’s digital television network.

Channel 7 was originally set up in Immingham’s Immage 2000 Studios in 1996, but it was bought by the Grimsby Institute in 2001 and is a wholly owned subsidiary of the further and higher education college.

Channel 7 officially launched in January 1998 and is situated at the Grimsby Institute’s main campus at Nunns Corner. Last year Ofcom announced that Channel 7 had been awarded the licence to operate a local TV channel for the Grimsby area. The channel is to be rebranded as Estuary TV and will begin broadcasting on Freeview from the Belmont transmitting station on 26th November.

The new channel – which will begin broadcasting on Freeview channel eight next year – will be available from Driffield in the north to Horncastle in the south and across from the Lincolnshire coastline to Goole.

It will broadcast a range of programmes, including news, documentaries, quizzes and children’s entertainment.

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