Tradition and trade at the heart of growth
Although Grantham has gained world recognition as the birthplace of the great and famous – such as Sir Isaac Newton and Britain’s first female Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher – much is going on to try to attract visitors to the town for other reasons.
Grantham has been described as one of the Midlands’s best-kept secrets, with its quaint old pubs, modern style bistros and fine food restaurants, through to its well-known department stores, designer shops and two shopping centres.
And there is also plenty happening behind the scenes to make Grantham the place to be. Plans for the long-awaited Grantham Southern Relief Road have been given the go-ahead – and work is likely to start during 2015.
The application, by Lincolnshire County Council, includes a link road from the A52 Somerby Hill to the B1174 Spittlegate Level and a new bridge spanning the East Coast Main Line and River Witham.
There will also be a new five-arm roundabout at Spittlegate Level, improvements to the A52/B6403 roundabout and associated new junctions and access roads.
The link road completes the full Southern Relief Road, which combines earlier approval for a distribution hub and a new junction with the A1.
It is a key part of the Southern Quadrant site and is proposed to be forward funded by Lincolnshire County Council to help speed up its construction.
Plans are also in the pipeline to provide Grantham with up to 3,700 new homes. The proposed Spitalgate Heath urban extension also proposes an area of employment space, a primary and secondary school, a local centre, open spaces, playing fields, play areas, allotments, woodlands and wildlife habitats.
It is anticipated that a final determination of the plan will be made next summer. If approval is given, work could start on the first phase of 150 homes during 2016.
Applicant, Buckminster Estate managing director, Stephen Vickers said: “We appreciate that this is a major expansion for Grantham and we have taken every care to make sure that this will be a high quality development.
“We have given careful consideration to the infrastructure. Our plans also include sustainable urban drainage systems, roads, cycleways, car and cycle parking, electricity substations and pumping stations.”
Mr Vickers added that the proposed layout of the 223 hectare site was based on extensive public consultation and it also took into account key design principles for ease of movement around the development.
There is also a proposal to create a new riverside park – to be known as Papermill Park – which would link to Grantham’s other parks located along the River Witham.
An urban extension to Grantham has been planned for a number of years and was first identified in the Council’s Core Strategy of 2010.
Retail wise it is also good news for Grantham. A major M&S ‘Simply Food’ store has been given planning permission to open in the town. It paves the way for the retailer to return to Grantham after an absence of four years, this time with a 1,394 square metre food store in the former Curry’s premises at Grantham Retail Park on London Road.
The move would create around fifty new full- and part-time jobs and the outlet would include a cafe and space for non-food goods in the store. The retailer left town in 2010 having occupied an 800 square metre clothing and food unit in Grantham High Street. Ample parking, a good retailing position and its new focus on food were cited as reasons for M&S to return to Grantham.
South Kesteven District Council Leader, Councillor Linda Neal, said: “It is good to see this moving ahead so swiftly. We are delighted to see a retailer of M&S’s stature back in Grantham and clearly appreciative of Grantham’s growth plans and its retail potential. Let’s hope it’s a catalyst for more high-calibre businesses to follow.”
Another new area retailer has opened its doors thanks to a council scheme that guides owners through the maze of opening a business. First-time business owner Amy McNamara was given support by SKDC4Business to open Mediterranean cafe and restaurant, Catlins in the High Street.
She was recommended to the scheme by her property landlord and has received help on every aspect of the process and legislation required to start up a business.
She chose the location for the business over other neighbouring towns and cities citing the retail unit’s historic and traditional links in Grantham where the famous gingerbread men were first made.
The previous business in the location under the same name closed in March 2011 but the council’s priority on business growth helped promote its availability.
The business will focus on serving the traditional teas and cakes that the unit was previously famed for, while also stocking a tasty contemporary menu.
Amy said: “The unit and location were a perfect fit for me and the SKDC4Business scheme has really assisted me in transforming my idea into reality.”
SKDC’s portfolio holder for Growing the Economy, Councillor Frances Cartwright said: “This is the latest business to benefit from the scheme and it will be a welcome addition to Grantham’s High Street. It’s inspiring to see a trader see the potential of a business from its location and history and embrace it to see an opportunity.”
There are two shopping centres in the town and a string of independent retailers.
Situated in the heart of Grantham, The George Centre is a ‘boutique’ shopping and business centre that mixes both smaller, independent retail outlets and high street names.
The George Centre stands on the site of the old George Hotel – once an impressive local hostelry built in 1780 – and still retains many of its features including the oriel windows, carved staircase and cornices.
In 1990 the site was converted into the indoor shopping centre, using the architectural splendour of the former hotel, which is now a listed building.
Although the George Hotel was built during the reign of George III – following a fire which wiped out many properties in that area – there had been a hostelry on the site for at least three centuries previously.
As a coaching inn, the George was a popular overnight stop between London and the North, endorsed by Charles Dickens – who in Nicholas Nickleby described it as one of the finest inns in England.
Then there is the Isaac Newton Shopping Centre which is home to a number of established retailers and a primary shopping destination for visitors to the town.
The interests of the businesses and retailers are looked after by the town’s Business Club and the Grantham Retailers Association. Both groups offer free membership and do all they can to boost the local economy.
Leisure wise, the town is bordered by green countryside with all the beauty of the Vale of Belvoir, its castle and stately homes on the doorstep.
It also has a rich local culture with a town museum, ancient buildings and historic pubs with colourful tales to tell. There is also an arts centre and plans to build a new multiplex cinema in the town, which could be ready for opening late next year.
The museum was founded by local dignitary Henry Preston in the early twentieth century and has housed both a collection of artefacts and a public library. It is now operated by the Grantham Community Heritage Association, which was formed in 2011 to help support the provision of a viable local museum that would preserve the town’s heritage.
GRANTHAM BUSINESS CLUB
Businesses and retailers in Grantham are working together to try and attract more visitors and boost the local economy.
They are represented by The Grantham Business Club and Grantham Retailers Association. Both are free to join and both meet on a regular basis to network and develop new ideas to benefit themselves and the town.
Stuart Pigram is Grantham Business Club Chairman. He took the helm in January 2013. The group sales director with the Trust Insurance Group said the club holds bi-monthly meetings, featuring keynote speakers and offering networking opportunities.
“The main thing is to attract more members. The club is totally free to join and to participate in and everything can be accessed through our website,” said Stuart.
GBC offers members everything from networking to advice, business help and lobbying. The Club also works closely with the Grantham Retailers Association (GRA) which represents the town’s independent shops and businesses.
David Charles is the founder of the GRA and owner of the Grantham Computer Centre. He decided to set up the Association after carrying out a survey which confirmed that the public valued independent businesses but also highlighted that many outlets could do more to promote themselves.
“There was a gap in the market for a club for the independent businesses/retailers,” he said. “Now we have about fifty retailers that get involved, but it is not a membership where you have to turn up for meetings. We email people and get together to organise events and our focus is on customer service.”
He encouraged traders to work together and spread a ‘shop local’ card scheme to create a more prosperous retailing environment in the town and more jobs for the future.
“We introduced that scheme about ten months ago and we have had a good positive response to it. We also have events like Music in the Market Place to encourage people to come there,” said David.
“We put the event on for free, had a couple of marquees and had five different acts. Traders reported record sales.”
The Association is looking to put on a similar event in the New Year. At the moment it is preparing for the town’s Christmas event on St Peter’s Hill, which runs from 20th to 30th November.
“The Association helps with that and supports it by opening late on Thursdays and opening on Sundays as well for the month of December,” added David.
NEW TOWN CRIER
An age-old tradition has been reintroduced in Grantham, thanks to the current Mayor Ian Selby.
He set about finding a suitable candidate to become the new town crier after noticing the absence of the traditional figure within the community, and he had no hesitation in asking former Sergeant Major Nobby Clark to take on the role.
Nobby, real name Edwin (66), has performed a number of duties since he was unveiled on the steps of the Guildhall back in August, including public addresses in the Market Place, the Isaac Newton Centre and at Grantham Town’s match at The Meres, where the Mayor took the Ice Bucket Challenge.
As a former uniformed army cadet leader, Mr Clark is well voiced in the art of sending out a message.
“It is an old tradition and the feeling I get is that there is no animosity. It is still early days, but I am open to offers. There hasn’t been a town crier for quite a few years. The Mayor asked me to take on the role and at first I said No, but I eventually agreed,” said Nobby.
“I was a Sergeant Major in the Army Cadets for thirty-five years and though I am still connected with them, I am not on the uniformed side.”
The idea for a town crier was announced at a special celebration to mark Grantham Town Football Club’s 140th year.
Carrying on the link, the town crier’s robes are the same as the club’s colours – black and white.
“The role is sponsored by the club and that is why the colours of the coat are black and white,” said Nobby, who worked for East Midlands Electricity (now Western Power Distribution) for forty-seven years.
A WINNING TEAM CELEBRATES ITS 60TH ANNIVERSARY
Treasure Transport Services Limited (Treasure) is a privately owned Grantham based company which provides high quality distribution services throughout the UK and Europe. The company is long-established and is extremely proud to be celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. Treasure’s principal operating centre is a six-acre site at Gonerby Moor, Grantham from where it operates 40 articulated vehicles and employs approximately 60 staff.
This year Treasure Transport Services Limited were nominated Grantham Journal Business of the Year.
Treasure Transport Services Limited (TTS) is the product of the merger of two well-established local companies; Grantham Road Services Limited (GRS) and J O Treasure Limited (JOT). GRS was incorporated in 1954 to acquire the assets of the Grantham depot of British Road Services following the de-nationalisation of the road haulage industry. JOT was incorporated at a similar time, servicing the dairy and brewing industries. Gary Greenhalgh acquired GRS in 1997 and JOT in 2000. Peter Greenhalgh (a former Kings School pupil) qualified as a solicitor, based in London. He left private practice to join the board in 2002 and was appointed managing director in 2003. In 2002, the two businesses were merged together and Treasure Transport Services Limited was created. In 2005 the business relocated to a new purpose-built six-acre site at Gonerby Moor, Grantham. In 2007, TTS were proud to become members of Palletline PLC, the UK’s leading pallet network. Peter was also elected as a non-executive director of Palletline PLC in 2009.
Whilst the foundations of the company lie in the distribution of full-loads of freight by road, the company has actively sought to develop ancillary, complementary activities in order to improve the services offered to its customers. The company now operates the following divisions:
Bulk Liquid Transport
Specialising in the movement of bulk liquid within the food and drink industry. We service the majority of the UK’s breweries, from smaller independent craft brewers such as Springhead Fine Ales, through to major names such as Aspall Cyder, Greene King, Stella Artois and Budweiser. Last year alone Treasure delivered 245 million pints, also taking tankers of beer to various festivals, including T in the Park, V Festival and the world famous Glastonbury Festival. The company also transports cider, wine and milk for other customers.
This division focuses on larger volumes of freight throughout the UK. Our curtain sided trailers transport palletised goods in large shipments up to twenty-six tonnes. We recently transported sandbags on behalf of the Environment Agency into flood areas. Treasure also operate flatbed trailers, normally utilised for large goods such as pre-cast concrete structures used in construction, like those used for the building of the Olympic Village, the Oval, universities and schools.
Treasure Transport Services Ltd, Triangle Park, Gonerby Moor,
Grantham, Lincs NG32 2BP
Tel: 01476 594263
Fax: 01476 594264
THE ANGEL AND ROYAL
Grantham has many old hostelries with colourful stories from the past, but one is said to be the oldest inn in England.
The Angel & Royal is now a Best Western hotel and, although the façade of the current building is a mere 600 or so years old, the inn dates back to 1203, and was built as a hostel for the chivalrous Brotherhood of the Knights Templar.
It stands on the route of the ancient Roman road, the Ermine Roman Way, and would have been a popular stopping point on the long journey from London to Edinburgh. The road later became the Great North Road, and is now Grantham’s bustling High Street, lined with cafes, antique shops, and boutiques.
The Angel has also had plenty of royal visitors. King John (of Magna Carta fame) is said to have held court there in 1213, and, over the centuries, so did Richard III, Edward III, Charles I (as well as his enemy Oliver Cromwell) and George IV.
But no one thought to add ‘Royal’ to the name of the hotel until 1866 after a visit by Queen Victoria’s eldest son, Edward the Prince of Wales, and heir to the throne. This visit was finally considered to amount to royal patronage, and the old Angel Inn became the Angel & Royal Hotel.
The King’s Room Restaurant occupies the oldest part of the hotel, and the stone walls, open fireplace and oriel windows with their elaborate carvings are as Richard III would have seen them in 1483.
The Angel pub itself features beautiful original stone carved windows and a traditional inglenook fireplace and there is a small staircase leading to nowhere, in the corner of the restaurant.
For many hundreds of years, the hotel was one of the most famous coaching inns in England and regularly received royal and powerful guests.
The stairs used to lead to a lookout spot on the roof, from where the innkeeper and his staff could keep an eye out for stagecoaches, giving them just enough time to dash back down and form a well turned out welcoming committee at the door.
It is no real surprise that many spooky stories are associated with this ancient inn. Mysterious orbs, or balls of light, said by some to be the first appearance of spirits, have been photographed in the Kings Room Restaurant; and a slender white lady and a spook named Jasper are among some of the hotel’s supposedly more permanent residents.
At the moment staff at the Angel & Royal are busy preparing a different kind of welcoming committee and gearing up for the revellers booked in for Christmas and New Year breaks, as well as its festive fare and real open fires.
A VICTORIAN CHRISTMAS
Stoke Rochford Hall Hotel is once again playing host to a fantastic Victorian Christmas Market on Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd November. Entry is free and the market is open on both days from 10am until 6pm. Peruse a fantastic array of gifts for Christmas from our selection of stalls selling hand-crafted and unique items. See the ‘green’ Father Christmas and don’t miss a ride in an authentic horse drawn omnibus around the grounds. Rides every twenty minutes on both days between 10am and 4pm – only £4.50 per person. Pre-booking is advisable although booking on the day will be available. Call 01476 530337 to book your ride today.