Stop, explore and enjoy
If you find yourself driving through the expanding village of Bardney – on your way to or from Lincoln, Wragby, Horncastle or Woodhall Spa – it could be time to take a break from your travels and discover more about this destination.
In recent months Bardney’s population has been growing on the back of new housing projects. In turn, this has highlighted the important role local shops and services play in serving rural families.
So many Lincolnshire villages have lost their homegrown businesses, but Bardney still boasts public houses, a restaurant/guest house, a hairdresser, barber, butcher, garage, post office and Lincolnshire Co-operative store.
There are lots of other less obvious enterprises too, with home-based businesses offering everything from fitness to design, reflexology and other services, in a village which is now home to around 800 people, and which also has lots of interest groups.
Mention the name Bardney and many local people still associate this village with the processing of sugar beet – indeed the silhouette of the once bustling sugar factory still graces the skyline.
It stopped producing in 2001, although the site is still used by Silver Spoon and there are archives reflecting the memories of those who used to work there.
So, Bardney is a place where you can find modern day shops and other services along with a wealth of fascinating information about its industrial heritage, from the former Morrells canning factory to the railway, river lock system and local agriculture.
Today’s businesses include The Black Horse Restaurant and Guest House, which is owned by John Gregg and Michael Rosamond. Both enjoy meeting and serving a range of customers, from visitors who have travelled miles to stay with them, to local diners.
Mr Rosamond said: “The Black Horse is steeped in history and was formerly a farmhouse. We have been here for more than ten years and when we moved in we inherited a very old child’s shoe which had been found within the walls. It remains in the building because if it is removed apparently good luck goes with it!
“We have five rooms, which can accommodate up to fourteen people, so we offer bed and breakfast and we will also do evening dinner for our guests. We also serve lunch to the general public every day, from Wednesday through to Sunday.”
Bardney is very much a working village and villagers often call at The Black Horse to offer their surplus produce for use in the restaurant.
Colleague, John Gregg said: “Our business aims not only to provide a living for ourselves, but it also gives us great satisfaction in offering a service to this village community, in the form of our guest accommodation and restaurant facilities.”
RAF Bardney was a Bomber Command station in 1943 and home to No 9 Squadron and The Black Horse was a popular watering hole for the airmen and the relatives of previous landlords and ladies have often conveyed stories of events regarding officers and servicemen drinking there.
The Black Horse continues to welcome those with Squadron connections on Remembrance Sunday and for their September reunions.
Whilst on the subject of eating and drinking, Bardney is also home to The Bards Pub and The Nags Head, which opens daily, serving food at lunchtimes and in the evenings.
Nearby is Bardney Butchers (formerly known as A W Garrill). It was recently renamed after Charles Bromhead took over the business six months ago, although Anthony Garrill still owns the premises and still provides outside catering (hog roasts).
Mr Bromhead said: “I worked here for five years and got fully trained up before taking over, which has been a good move for me.
“We open every day from Mondays to Saturdays and we have gained a little bit of new business through the new housing here, but we also have a lot of regulars who have been coming to see us for a very long time.”
But what of Bardney’s past and how is this being kept alive today?
Resident and historian, Dave Miles said: “Bardney is very fortunate to be steeped in a long and illustrious history, stretching back for thousands of years – with evidence of Neolithic life in the Witham valley to more familiar industries such as John Morrell’s cannery and the British Sugar factory, both sadly closed, except for the Silver Spoon Company’s operations.
“Bardney and neighbouring Southrey are still thriving villages, welcoming fresh faces into our new housing developments and sharing local facilities. We have shops, businesses and features aplenty. It is a great place to live. So (we say) don’t just drive through our village, stop, explore and enjoy!”
The Heritage Group was formed in 2010, with the aim of researching, developing and recording the history of the village and surrounding area for the benefit of everyone. It also has its own website – www.bardneyheritage.com
The village’s Heritage Centre is situated on the site of the old station and opened in 2008. Dave Miles looked after the project for the first year and then Barry Newlove and his partner, Lynne Goforth took over the reins.
Mr Newlove said: “Our success is due to the fact that we have always given visitors to Bardney what they have asked for – bikes to hire so that they can ride along the Water Rail Way. A tearoom was subsequently opened and bed and breakfast is available in old railway carriages.”
During the winter months (October to March), the Heritage Centre opens on Fridays and Saturdays, from 9.30am to 4pm and on Sundays between 10am and 4pm.
If you explore the area during a weekend you can treat yourself to fish and chips from the Bardney Fryer, a unique fish and chip establishment which can be found on Platform One at the Heritage Centre.
Frying times are Friday and Saturday lunchtimes (11.30am to 2pm) when you can eat inside and take a break from looking around the area. Or you can use its take-out service on Fridays, between 5pm and 7.30pm or on Saturdays, from 5pm to 6.30pm.
Mr Newlove and his volunteers are as enthusiastic about serving their fish and chips as they are about running the Heritage Centre.
If you fancy overnighting in Bardney, you can book into one of the old railway wagons – the ‘Southrey’ and the ‘Stixwould’, which offer double-room accommodation, complete with ensuite, TV and tea-and-coffee-making facilities.
“We had 12,000 visitors in 2011. The only way to make a success of a venue such as the Heritage Centre is to listen to people and see what they ask for,” added Mr Newlove.
This approach led Mr Newlove to become involved with the Bikes for Life programme after he realised that a tremendous amount of people wanted to get out on their bicycles and explore the old railway line. You can hire a bicycle for the day and visit Lincoln, Woodhall Spa or Boston by cycling along the Water Rail Way – this is the path beside the River Witham, which connects Lincoln to Boston.
Under the scheme, bike hire has been made available at four venues across Lincolnshire. Families can use their own bikes or hire them from the Bike 4 Life venues in Bardney, Lincoln, Louth and Bourne.
If you love walking and are passionate about wildlife, a visit to Bardney Limewoods is a must, and you will be joining walkers and keen naturalists who enjoy these woods all year round.
The Bardney Limewoods is now a National Nature Reserve and managed by the Forestry Commission, being the most important examples of small-leaved lime woodland in Britain. They cover a wide range of soil and drainage conditions, resulting in a varied ground flora and a range of different tree and shrub communities.
Spring and summer are the best times to visit if you love butterflies and wildflowers but there is always something to see whatever time of the year you decide to go exploring.
A Visitor Centre and butterfly garden in Chambers Farm Wood offer good interpretation panels and leaflets for the area, plus there are toilet facilities as well as an area where you can enjoy a picnic.
A marked trail through Chambers Farm Wood helps those new to the delights on offer with the paths. There is also wheelchair access.
ONCE AN ISLAND
Bardney – which lies some ten miles east of Lincoln – sits on the north side of the River Witham.
Today it is situated within the district of West Lindsey, but originally it was part of what was known as the Wraggoe Wapentake.
The village was once a slight island sitting in marshy ground. The ‘ey’ part of Bardney means island – and it was named after the Saxon landowner or chief Bearda – hence Bearda’s ‘eye’ (Bearddanig) from which the name Bardney evolved.
People wishing to explore Bardney and make the most of the surrounding countryside have the chance to stay in pine lodges and cottages in nearby Stainfield.
Rural Roosts is part of Manor Farm and accommodation includes lodges with large decked verandas overlooking a lake in the middle of what is a 300-acre grassland farm, grazed by sheep.
The family-owned enterprise is run by Katie Olivant and her husband, Tim.
Mrs Olivant said: “We are proud to live in this beautiful part of Lincolnshire and to be able to share our ‘little piece of heaven’ by offering visitors the chance to come and stay in our high quality, self-catering pine lodges, which are nestled in a peaceful location in the middle of our farm.
“We work to preserve the wildlife so wildflower meadows abound in the summertime and these, coupled with wetland areas, make the whole experience a delight for any birdwatcher. However if the guests want to get involved we are eager to introduce them to our farm animals and they can help us with lambing at this time of year.”
People can choose to stay for short breaks or week-long holidays, which offer everything from walking to cycling and fishing on the doorstep.
Mrs Olivant added that she has just added hot tubs to two of her properties and she and her husband plan to create a new adventure trail on the farm later this year.
FESTIVAL PUT BARDNEY ON THE MAP
Some of the biggest pop legends are responsible for helping to put the Bardney area on the map. Artists including Joe Cocker, The Beach Boys, Don McLean, Rod Stewart, Roxy Music, Status Quo and Humble Pie were among a top-flight line-up of stars who played at The Great Western Express Festival, which took place in 1972.
Forty thousand pop fans attended the crowdpulling event, which was staged between 26th and 29th May, in a field next to Tupholme Abbey. Some had come from as far afield as Australia and New Zealand. Tickets for the smash event cost from £2 to £5. Sleeping bags were 50p and polythene sheets were free. Some might say it was a ‘mini-Glastonbury’ of its day – but it certainly makes you stop and think how much it would cost to stage a similar event, with such a fantastic line-up, today!