Town means business

Words by:
Melanie Burton
Featured in:
February 2016

The thriving Lincolnshire market town of Gainsborough may have a colourful and long history but its sights are very much set on the future development of the town and surrounding district.
It already boasts a top class high school, affordable housing, quality heritage assets and excellent transport links via the A1, motorways and airports. But it isn’t resting on its laurels and much work has been done by Gainsborough Town Council, West Lindsey District Council and the Gainsborough Town Partnership to improve the town centre, job and investment opportunities as well as road and rail links.

Gainsborough Target 2020 is the title of the town plan launched by Gainsborough Town Council last April. It is a vision for the town leading up to 2020 when the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Pilgrim Fathers in the Mayflower, from Plymouth to the New World, will be celebrated on both sides of the Atlantic.

Gainsborough Town Manager, Samantha Mellows said: “The story of the Mayflower is incredibly important as it signifies the beginning of religious freedom and democracy. A compact signed on the ship became the basis of the American Constitution.

“The anniversary in 2020 will see large scale events across the country, with Gainsborough being a key player due to its historical links to the story.”

Last year saw a number of great events in Gainsborough which attracted people to the town, including a mini Lincolnshire Show, Independence Day, a Halloween spectacular, Christmas fairs and the ever-popular Christmas lights switch-on, as well as specialist markets throughout the year. This year will see the return of these events.

Gainsborough continues to promote itself as a hub for engineering excellence. Manufacturing and engineering companies work together to show the huge amount of high quality products that are produced in Gainsborough.

The Lincolnshire Manufacturing Conference is to be held at Gainsborough Golf Club on 10th March where leading engineering companies will be in attendence to hear about issues affecting the sector. They will also have factory tours of Eminox and PING Europe, which are two of Gainsborough’s leading companies.

“Planning permission has also been granted to develop a fifty-plus-room Premier Inn hotel on Market Street. We hope to see the development underway in 2016 to support the need for quality accommodation in the town,” said Samantha.

Last year also saw Gainsborough and Grantham selected as the two Lincolnshire towns earmarked for the Government’s Housing Zone status, an initiative to encourage the development of brownfield sites.

This means Gainsborough is set to expand its population by fifty per cent over the next twenty years, and developing existing brownfield sites around the town will help to make the town more attractive to new developments planned in two new villages to be built on the edge of town.

More houses means the town needs more jobs and to attract businesses Gainsborough needs an improved link with the A1. Approaching Gainsborough from the west, the only river crossing is the town’s 1791 Trent bridge.

The bridge was built at a cost of £4,000 at a time when Gainsborough, an inland port, needed to increase its trade by opening itself up to Nottinghamshire. Prior to the bridge there was a ferry, but its limited capacity restricted the trade that could flow through the port.

225 years later Gainsborough Town Council is now seeking the construction of a second Trent bridge for much the same reason as the first bridge was built, to increase the economic activity of the town.

Since 2012 the town’s local rail user group, GRaB, has campaigned for a better train service on Sundays. The new train company Arriva Trains North, which starts its service in April, has announced that trains on Sunday will run hourly between Lincoln, Gainsborough, Retford and Sheffield from 2017.

Another service for which GRaB campaigned is a semi-fast train linking Lincoln and Gainsborough with Sheffield, Barnsley, Wakefield and Leeds. Arriva announced this will start with brand new trains in 2019 as part of its new Northern Connect network.

Gainsborough’s Mayor, Councillor Matt Boles, said: “The next few years leading up to Mayflower 400 in 2020 when our town will finally establish itself on the international tourist map, promises to be exciting and will strengthen the town’s community spirit.

“With improved road and rail links Gainsborough will definitely be going places.”

West Lindsey District Council is delighted that the town has been selected as one of twenty housing zones outside of London. The idea is to make it quicker and easier to build new homes on brownfield land, which is land that has previously been used for industrial purposes or some commercial uses.

A housing zone is an area of land where the government provides funding to unlock the scheme such as infrastructure, site acquisition and leaseholder buyouts. The developer and local authority commit to provide a certain level of affordable and private housing and must meet these targets on deadline as a condition of the funding.

Commercial director for the council, Penny Sharp, applied for housing zone status to get some momentum behind plans to increase housing and regeneration opportunities in Gainsborough.

“It is great news that Gainsborough has been chosen as one of just twenty areas outside of London to be designated as a housing zone. The intention is to accelerate the delivery of infrastructure to help unlock a number of brownfield sites within the town. This will help to provide a wider mix of housing and better choice for buyers as well as helping to attract new people into the area,” she said.

The council is looking at fifteen sites between Gainsborough, Lea and Morton, which will ultimately deliver more than 750 new homes over the coming years. There will also be an opportunity for developers to bid for funding to support the delivery of new housing.

“As part of our commercial approach, this is an excellent example of how we are working in partnership with the government and the private sector to bring much needed investment to the area,” added Mrs Sharp.

“We will be engaging with the development industry and will work with stakeholders and statutory bodies to identify and remove obstacles to development.”

Not only are there moves afoot within the engineering and manufacturing sectors, the retail side of Gainsborough continues to fare well.

Marshall’s Yard shopping centre has entered 2016 with some exciting plans underway, including a planned expansion of one of its most popular High Street names (soon to be announced), a second unit for a well-established independent eatery and some additions to the already full events diary.

Cream, which has had a popular cafe at the centre for eight years, will be taking a second unit in the former Stringers hair salon. Stringers expanded upstairs into a larger unit last year and has experienced a steady growth in trade since doing so with customers preferring the light and airy, modern salon.

The second eatery will be modelled on some of the food offers typically seen in London – selling delicious open rye bread sandwiches and organic homemade soups freshly made to order, offering customers a healthy alternative breakfast or lunch.

Cream’s owner, Michael Robinson, said: “Trade has consistently grown at Marshall’s Yard for us and we decided that where else better to try our second business venture. With the two units being on the same site, we can continue to manage both businesses closely, having a personal presence at both which customers so love from an independent business.”

The unit was 800 sq ft but this has been further expanded within the entrance foyer to Britannia House to create a larger 1,153 sq ft space to accommodate the new kitchen which will be needed to ensure everything is made in-house.

Centre Manager at Marshall’s Yard, Alison Hall, said: “We couldn’t be more pleased with the show of confidence from businesses with their planned expansions for this year. We work hard to ensure Marshall’s Yard is a number one shopping destination in the area.

“A lot of effort goes into the appearance of Marshall’s Yard and ensuring the centre always feels safe and welcoming. We were proud to be awarded the Gold award for best retail and commercial premises by Britain in Bloom in 2015.

“However, a lot of effort also goes into our events diary as we know this is what offers families and visitors an experience when they visit Marshall’s Yard.

“Many of the events are planned and held jointly with the town centre and for both Halloween and Christmas, for the switching on of the lights, we really show the area that we know how to put on a good show.”

This year the events diary has been added to further, with the introduction of the first-ever tea dances that will be hosted in the Yard’s fountain area and also a relaunch of the centre’s popular Farmers’ Market with the addition of specialist crafts which will take place on the second Saturday of the month.

Alison added: “We love holding events here and we have so much really positive feedback from our shoppers.

“Over Christmas we pitched tents and even had our own Marshall’s Yard tepee for youngsters to watch Christmas films. In the summer we aired the live Wimbledon finals serving champagne and strawberries from our own Wimbledon bar, proving that this kind of attraction on centre is a huge hit.”

The centre will kick off its busy 2016 events programme with a family Easter event which will also coincide with the centre’s ninth birthday and some new store openings.

Gainsborough Old Hall is regularly described as a ‘hidden gem in Lincolnshire’ and is one of the most impressive and best preserved medieval manor houses in England.

Owned by English Heritage and operated by Lincolnshire County Council, the hall is a large, late-medieval manor house built by the noble Burgh family around 1460.

It has a long and colourful heritage including once being a safe haven in which the infamous Pilgrim Fathers could pray before their epic sailing on the Mayflower to America.

In July last year The Old Hall hosted the international launch of a project aimed at marking the 400th anniversary of that journey in 2020 and it is about to play another significant role in those celebrations.

Gainsborough Town Manager Samantha Mellows said: “Mayflower 400 is a collaborative project between destination partners from across the UK, Holland and USA to mark the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower, where passengers embarked on a historic voyage to America.

“The story of the Mayflower is incredibly important as it signifies the beginning of religious freedom and democracy. A compact signed on the ship became the basis of the American Constitution.

“The anniversary in 2020 will see large scale events across the country, with Gainsborough being a key player due to its historical links to the story.

“Gainsborough hosted the official launch of the project with a medieval banquet in Gainsborough Old Hall last year. The event put Gainsborough on the international map and it is hoped that as the project develops, tourists will be attracted to the town to visit where some of the passengers worshipped prior to their journey.”

Gainsborough Old Hall was not only the home of the Burgh family but also a demonstration of their wealth and importance.

By 1596, however, the Burghs had fallen on hard times and the house was sold to the Hickman family who lived there until 1720. Since then the Hall has been put to many different uses including a theatre, a pub and a masonic temple.

It was given to the nation in 1970 by the Bacons who are descendants of the Hickman family.

Famous visitors to the Old Hall include Richard III, Henry VIII, John Wesley and the Pilgrim Fathers.

Gainsborough is served by a number of varied groups and organisations which all help to put the town on the map. One such body is Gainsborough Model Railway Society which this year marks its 70th anniversary.

Its O-gauge model railway, which is housed in the town’s old Victorian girls’ school in Florence Terrace, is the biggest of its kind in the country and attracts visitors from all over the world.

Based on the East Coast mainline, from King’s Cross to Leeds Central, the railway opens its doors to the public eleven times during the year.

Secretary Michael Clapham said: “We are just starting to plan for the 70th anniversary. But we will be running our usual open days, the next one of which is at Easter.”

The railway covers 2,500 square feet, has more than 1,200 feet of main line track and needs eleven operators to run it.

“The club is rightly proud of how it works,” said Mr Clapham who has been involved with the society for sixty-five years.

“We try and recreate what it was like in the days of steam. Nearly all the locos are handmade by members and we now have 180 locos.”

The club room also has a massive model of King’s Cross station to make it even more real.

“You walk through the door to the club and there is a massive model of King’s Cross station which is about 28ft 6” long. It runs in four rooms and has almost everything you would have found on the railways back in the days of steam.”

It is a far cry from when the railway first started to be built back in 1953.

“When we first started out we had pretty much one bit of track and one engine.You couldn’t get the materials then that you get now. It has been built up over the years and we are still using some of the engines that have been running on the London track for sixty odd years. I am very proud to have seen it grow so big.”

The period modelled is from the late 1940s to the end of the British rail steam, with acknowledgement of the diesel era.

The model railway boasts authentic replicas of famous locomotives such as the Flying Scotsman, Papyrus and Mallard, and The West Riding Ltd and The Yorkshire Pullman are two of the many express trains depicted on the railway, along with many more services, express freights and local freights, as well as local passenger services.

Caroline Bingham went to meet Darryl Uprichard who has turned his passion for classic Triumph sports cars into a Gainsborough based, world class business, Racetorations.

Racetorations premises from the outside looks very similar to the other commercial units in the area but step inside and a ‘Tardis’ devoted to all things TR unfolds. Darryl explained where his passion and encyclopedic knowledge of classic sports cars and specifically TR2s and TR6s began.

“I was like most lads of the time,” he said, “I couldn’t wait to drive and I loved the sense of freedom and enjoyed speed. I bought my first TR3, started to restore and modify it for circuit racing and after 55 years I find there are still things to be learnt about the marque.”

For many years racing his 1957 TR3 (600BPC) was a highly successful hobby, while the day work took Darryl and his wife from County Durham to Beckingham, near Doncaster. Darryl worked in management and supply chain for several international automotive spares importers and manufacturers. When currency fluctuations led to the sudden closure of his employer in the mid 1980s, Darryl put his racing experience and redundancy money to good use and he formed Racetorations in 1986. The many innovations and modifications to engines and suspension which Darryl had developed formed the backbone product of the new company and he was able to meet the demands from clients requiring similar modifications to their Triumphs.

“People usually go through several arenas with their cars and we are here to help them from stage to stage. They begin with home restoration and maybe show their cars. They may be used purely as road cars or tarmac rally cars in the UK or Europe. They maybe move to hill climbing, sprinting and ultimately track racing. In all of these disciplines we are here to help clients turn their dreams into reality. Our speciality is the building of fast road, race and rally cars with absolutely no compromise on quality both in performance and presentation.”

I began my visit inspecting the comprehensive spares stores with its neatly stocked and labelled shelves. The cars may be classic but manufacture moves on and casting of certain parts is being phased out for the improved quality and performance of machined parts from billet aluminium.

In-house design and development has always been a core ingredient of the business. Racetorations’ design and drawing capabilities are sold as a service outside of the pure Triumph area.

Walking to the edge of the upper gallery I take my first look across the workshop floor, it was hard to count how many vehicles were being worked on. Darryl had explained that there are no stopwatches, just the entire workforce’s concentration on producing the ultimate car and performance for the client. The ethos of the company hangs on the words “attention to detail”. This is very apparent! Most elements of a build, restoration or service can be completed in-house. There is a state-of-the-art spray booth, welding and fabrication equipment, a dedicated gearbox, axle and engine shop plus luxury coach building and interior expertise. From our earlier conversation, Darryl had explained that full restorations can take anything up to one to two years, while other vehicles come in over winter to be serviced before the spring rally seasons begins. His enthusiasm and passion is obviously shared by the whole workforce who were happy to describe the particular job they were undertaking. One of the perks for the technicians can be a visit to America to service TRs owned by collectors across the US. I especially enjoyed meeting Stuart and seeing some of the beautiful interior leather trims and seats he was fitting.

The design, extras and colour combinations for every vehicle are discussed in detail with the client to interpret their vision and add the Racetorations special touches both mechanically and aesthetically. All customers come to Racetorations for the company’s unique input into what makes a Racetorations TR instantly recognisable to the cognoscenti.

As we walked around it became clear that this could be a style of grille, of headlamp mountings, of upholstery styles and colour blending, or unique body styling: European taste differs from those of a more muscular American appeal but above all clients are looking for the Triumph roar to be restored to their engine. Or perhaps it should be “phoar”!

Racetorations is keen to bring more young people into the industry and has engaged for many years with local academies and schools on Open Days and by recruiting local apprentices. They are really looking for the cream of the crop in both a work and life ethic. Racetorations can compete with the finest in the world for its engineering and restoration ethic and all staff share that pride and job satisfaction.

Finally I had to ask Darryl if he owns his own TR at the moment. He took me to the back of the workshop where a chassis and body are in the early stages of restoration. “This is a TR3 I bought more than ten years ago, which was a barn find in the south of France. It has a droop snoot nose and I was in ignorance of it’s racing history. It was last owned by a privateer racer, Bill de Selincourt. It has since been authenticated as a Goodwood car (once raced there when it was a grand prix circuit). It is waiting to go into the spray booth and it’s planned to have it ready by September 2016 to take part in this year’s Goodwood Revival. It will be another fine example of a Racetorations TR and will once again take its place on a racing grid at Goodwood where it will continue its racing career, just like it did in 1958 and 1959.”

Caldicott Drive, Heapham Road Industrial Estate,
Gainsborough DN21 1FJ
Tel: 01427 616565

The Delvers local history group was founded by Thelma Childs thirty years ago to preserve and promote the history of Gainsborough.

This year the Delvers will promote their new blue metal plaque trail featuring visible memorials to famous faces and places connected to the town. The first was installed at the historic Chapel Staithe on the Riverside and the next was sited near to the site of the Union Workhouse, today Aldi Supermarket, and commemorated Gainsborough’s lost cannon, one of a pair that were presented to Gainsborough and Retford – today only Retford’s remains. The next plaques were placed in Lea village at the recently restored Dower House, The Lindens, which was connected to The Anderson Family, who lived at Lea Hall. This was the subject of Darron Childs’s recent publication The Last Baronets of Old Gainsborough. A further plaque was sited in Lea Park. Others include: Elswitha at the Caskgate Street Surgery, Karl Wood in Curtis Walk, the Old Pillared House on the riverside and Thomas Miller and Seven Foot Lane, both on Bridge Street, which will all be featured in a new guide currently being written.

In their quest to promote and preserve local history, the Delvers have recently assisted Phyllis Peart who was born in 1919. Her first book Reminiscences was published by the Delvers a few years ago and interest in her life, as Gainsborough’s original ‘call the midwife’, was such that a follow-up book Nursing, Midwifery and Me featuring a collection of memories and stories from her life that spans back to the beginning of the NHS was published. Copies are available at The Methodist Church, The Parish Church and the Heritage Centre in Gainsborough.

Just six years ago Gainsborough’s Trinity Arts Theatre was under threat of closure following a decision by the Arts Council to withdraw its funding. But hard work and a number of new initiatives to increase its popularity have helped to secure its future.

The building itself is a converted gothic church with original features and it was made into the theatre in 1977.

It has a 200-seat auditorium with a stage and shows films, theatre productions, music events and live streaming of national performances from the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow, the National Theatre in London and English National Opera.

Lincolnshire County Council leisure and culture services team manager Karen Whitfield said: “That has been a really popular area which has been developed recently.

“We have done some fantastic work over the last four or five years. The theatre was under threat of closure when we lost Arts Council funding in 2009.

“We developed a number of ways of operating. We have reduced the costs by more than half and the audience numbers have been greater and greater.

“It is now that popular that we have to open the bar earlier because people want to come and meet for a drink before they see the show. There is a real sense of community now.

“The live streaming has been an invaluable contribution to the programme. Audiences get to see Bolshoi Ballet performances as they happen in Moscow and the English National Opera streamings attracted a fantastic audience.

“It is brilliant. People get to see high quality performances for less cost and don’t have to worry about travelling long distances.”

The live streaming was introduced in April 2013 with just performances by the National Theatre being shown but it has grown and audiences can now look forward to even more live performances in the future.

Never miss a copy!

Big savings when you take out a subscription.