Welton – a village with real appeal

Words by:
Melanie Burton
Featured in:
February 2014

Six miles north of the city of Lincoln lies the charming village which has a history going back 1,000 years to the days when the Vikings and the Danes began their invasions.
In many ways it is a typical Lincolnshire village with village greens, back lanes and an old coach house which is said to be haunted. But there is much more to
Welton-by-Lincoln than first appears.

There is a wide range of services, amenities and retail outlets in the village, ranging from supermarkets to a tea shop, gift shops and takeaways, as well as banking and financial services and even an award-winning fish and chip shop.

The village also boasts an eighteen-hole golf course, which is a natural favourite with golfers from near and far, and a comprehensive school with a reputation for academic excellence.

The name Welton is Anglo-Saxon and means the ‘ton’ or enclosure at the wells. Before the Saxons settled there, the Romans had occupied the ground, and before them a more ancient people probably lived there from about 7,500 years ago.

When Remigius decided to build a cathedral at Lincoln, Welton was owned by William the Conqueror and the king gave the parish to the bishop to endow six prebends which provided income to support six canons attached to the cathedral.

Some of the roads in the village have been named after them – Brinkhall, Beckhall, Rivehall, Westhall and Painshall.

Welton is a charming village, with a lot of the old houses built from locally made bricks of attractive colourings and Lincolnshire stone.

It has strong links with the RAF, particularly with the famous Dambusters who were said to be regulars at the village’s old coach house, the Black Bull.

Though no ghost has ever been witnessed, it has often been reported that the village pub is haunted because there have been inexplicable sounds – believed to be an unseen phantom slowly walking up the eighteen stairs to the restaurant.

The pub is run as a joint venture between equal partners Derek Wright, his wife Bridget, her son Thomas Allen and his partner Leanne Robinson. Having taken over the Black Bull two years ago, the team has worked tirelessly to build up a reputation and their hard work has paid off.

“It has gone from strength to strength, dramatically. We had a good 2013. It is just a traditional country pub but we are very busy with food and have a very extensive menu,” said Derek.

“We are very strict about our closing times and don’t have any late-night revelry and it has changed the pattern for the people that come into the pub. It is people who come in for food who have driven us forward and word is spreading.”

The pub has special themed nights such as pie nights, steak nights and quiz nights which have proved very popular. There is also a monthly meat raffle. It hosts live music nights on the last Friday of the month featuring all local bands, which also go down well.

The Black Bull Inn and the church are centred around the village green and the original village pump still holds pride of place.

The church of St Mary, as we know it today, has had extensions and improvements over the years. A giant boulder from the Ice Age stands by the porch and in the church are two stained glass windows on the north side, one to the memory of Dr Richard Smith – who founded the Blue Coat School in Lincoln – and the other in memory of those who died in the First and Second World Wars, from RAF Scampton.

The village War Memorial stands facing the road in front of St Mary’s Church and bears the names of twelve men who perished in the Great War and a further three from the Second World War, while another name has been added on a separate tablet seen between the vases of flowers.

The William Farr school opened in 1952 on the site of the RAF Dunholme Lodge, a World War Two bomber station, which had been bought for £600 in 1946 by William Farr, the vicar of Welton. The school was named after him when he died in 1955.

It acquired comprehensive status in 1974, and Grant Maintained status in 1992 and in 2000 William Farr signed up for the latest education initiative and attained Technology College status. It is now an academy and is also an associate school of the University of Lincoln.

In 2001 William Farr achieved the distinction of having the best comprehensive school A-level results in England and in 2006 it received an outstanding award in every category in an Ofsted inspection, the best in the country.

Welton also has a thriving sports and social club situated on the playing field, where members play darts and pool as well as enjoy outdoor activities such as football and cricket. There is also a children’s playground.

But the Welton Manor Golf Centre has proved to be a major asset to the village. Set in 120 acres, it is a Golf Centre of Excellence and offers eighteen holes of challenging golf to suit all levels of players. Features include tree-lined fairways, lakes and meandering streams. It is a successful farm diversification by local farmer Charles Ottewell and his sons, Andrew and David.

As well as the golf course, the site houses a driving range and a fishing lake with a Caravan and Camping Club site and its club house is now the Falconer Bar and Restaurant, which is licensed for civil wedding ceremonies and christenings.

“The clubhouse serves as a bar, restaurant and function room and caters for anything from weddings and christenings to private parties,” said David Ottewell.

“It is quite unique in that it provides facilities for members and non-members alike. That is why it is called The Falconer, to give it its own identity.”

The golf club began twenty years ago as a nine-hole course and was then developed into an eighteen-hole course. The restaurant opened thirteen years ago.

“The summer was very good and the course has been in particularly good condition this season. It has been a very busy year but we have to be quite proactive with different offers and deals to get people in,” said David.

“We are always looking at different schemes to attract people here. There is no doubt that people who come to Welton come for the golf course first because they can walk here from the village and there are not many golf courses with that opportunity,” he claimed.

“It is a good selling point to have such a facility next to the village and it is a big asset for Welton.”

Welton has much to offer with excellent schools, reputable facilities and plenty to do.

“There is a very strong community in Welton and a lot of facilities including the golf course and a secondary school which is quite unique as well,” said David.

“It has a good reputation and we are very fortunate to have a secondary school in the village, particularly one that is so popular. People move to Welton so they can get their children into the school.”

Welton also has a very successful village magazine, which has been produced by villager Hugh Gilfedder for a number of years.

It is understood that the village has grown significantly since 1970 and is now second in population to Gainsborough in West Lindsey. The expansion is seen as a sprawl without a corresponding increase in services.

It is believed that the village has lost a feeling of community that could be totally extinguished by potential new developments.

There is a growing pressure on school places, as both schools give preference to attendees of religious congregations. The Health Centre has expanded but remains close to maximum utilisation. Car parking in the centre of the village is also seen to be inadequate.

The Lincolnshire County Council in December 2013 made the controversial decision to close the village library service and the Parish Council is seeking to determine what library service can be provided by volunteers with the help of the Co-op store.

Welton is steeped in history and can boast a number of famous sons, including James Dawson, the founder of James Dawson & Son Ltd which was once one of Lincoln’s major employers.

He was born in Welton and in 1861 he was a boot and shoemaker in Sheffield, employing four men. By 1872 he was back in Lincoln selling boots and shoes in Sincil Street.

But in the early 1890s he recognised the need for leather belts for all the machinery that was being manufactured in Lincoln and other places in the UK, so he formed a company with his sons Walter and William Posnett.

The company grew rapidly. But Posnett left the company in 1892 and the company was incorporated as a private limited company on 10th March 1896, becoming James Dawson & Son Ltd, based at Boultham Works.

Walter left the company and became a farmer and James retired in the early 1900s and died in 1912.

In 1978 Dawson’s became part of Fenner plc which was at the forefront of hose and ducting manufacture, with manufacturing facilities in the UK and China. James’s Celtic style memorial gravestone (also that of his wife Mary) can still be seen in the village today.

Another memorial plaque in the village can be found on the tower of St Mary’s Church and is a clock and inscription bearing the name of William Steeper and that of Thomas Bell. William Steeper was a church warden in Welton in 1768 at the same time the church tower was erected by builder Thomas Bell.

Welton has a number of local groups and one very unusual one is the Impish Quilters which was set up back in 1999 by twelve like-minded ladies who enjoyed sewing and, in particular, patchwork and quilting. Membership has grown over the years and now stands at forty-five.

At first, the founder members met in Spridlington village hall but moved on to Hackthorn, then Welton when numbers grew.

The group meets every month in Dunholme village hall and features speakers from all over the country, who give talks and demonstrations of patchwork and quilting and related subjects.

Member, Judith MacKay said: “It has nurtured friendships and smaller groups of friends who meet to sew. We machine and hand sew our quilts and this year we have a varied programme, with a ‘Linus’ day in February, where we sit and make quilts, chat, eat cake and drink tea and coffee.”

The quilts made by the group are given to local hospitals and homes for children and young adults in need by Project Linus UK, a volunteer organisation which aims to provide a sense of security and comfort to sick and traumatised babies, children and teenagers through the provision of new home-made patchwork quilts and knitted/crocheted blankets.

“We are happy, hard sewing, like-minded women who have this interest, or passion in common – fabric, sewing and creating lovely handmade quilts, throws, bags and all manner of beautifully crafted objects,” said Judith.

“We even have one member who exhibits her quilts in Canada and later in the year at Olympia.”

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