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Words: Glynis Fox
Photography: Mick Fox
Featured in the April 2015 issue

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New initiatives and the promise of fresh funding signal brighter times for a popular Lincolnshire shopping, tourist and business destination.

Things are looking up for Boston, as a new Town Team gets to work with a mission to inject extra vibrancy into the local economy.

An initial approach for lottery funding by Heritage Lincolnshire and Boston Borough Council has also met with a really encouraging response and it will hopefully open the door to more than £1million in funding.

A separate request for lottery cash has also been agreed. It will release £50,000 to help brighten the town’s streetscape and improve signage.

But, as if that wasn’t enough, another group – Boston BIG Local – is chasing a slice of £1m to make a real and lasting difference to communities living in the town centre.

Altogether, these initiatives and the support they are receiving has got to be good news for a town which is steeped in history, but where you have to go exploring to find its hidden treasures, including niche shops tucked away down Boston’s intriguing passageways.

Today’s Market Place – which really comes to life on Wednesdays and Saturdays when this central area is bursting with stalls galore – is medieval in origin and the eastern boundary and quirky historic lanes were laid out in the twelfth century.

Back then Boston was a major centre of trade and commerce and extremely wealthy. There was another resurgence in prosperity following the drainage of the Fens in the eighteenth century.

Today the town and its businesses face very difference challenges – not least those brought about by the phenomenal growth of Internet shopping. Thankfully, there are still plenty of people who want to get out and about and pop in to shops where they can see and touch products, before buying.

But the twenty-first century market town has to be savvy. Shoppers and visitors are looking to do more than simply fill their carrier bags. On a typical day out, they may want to take in a crowdpulling event, visit the cinema and have a meal in their favourite restaurant.

These are factors which Jenny Elwick, who is Network Development Officer for Boston Area Chamber – part of the Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce & Industry – recognises well and they are issues the new twelve-strong Town Team for Boston is keen to tackle.

Jenny said: “Boston is home to a good mix of both independent and national retailers. There is also a selection of high-quality places to eat and a bustling Market Place.”

The town’s historic environment is also of national significance and Boston has a number of growing international links too.

“We see a number of challenges which need tackling, including a drift of footfall from the town centre and high street. We know that people are doing more online shopping, but they are still going out and about,” said Jenny.

She said one thing the Town Team is definitely not trying to do is to replicate the work of Boston’s former Business Improvement District (BID).

“What we are looking to pinpoint are the drivers for change, such as changes in consumer behaviour and how we can develop a town centre environment aimed at attracting an increasing number of visitors. We are also working with others to attract inward investment,” said Jenny.

She has already been getting out and about and talking to individual businesses, encouraging them to share their concerns and thoughts about how they would like Boston to develop in the future.

“Some traders have shared their thoughts about the effects of more people shopping online; others have said they feel that car parking charges are too high,” said Jenny.

“However, many added they felt the late night Christmas shopping free council car park had a positive effect and helped encourage more shoppers into the town over the Christmas period.

“Many would like to see more events in the town and say that Boston doesn’t make enough of its history. The Town Team plans to support the town’s existing events and also to influence the local plan and the tourist strategy, through the Boston Visitor Economy Partnership. (BVEP)

“Although it is still early days for the Town Team and we are still pulling together our Business Plan, we have been pleasantly surprised by the enthusiasm shown by businesses for what we are trying to do,” said Jenny.

On the financial front, there has been more good news. Boston has won two Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grants.

Boston Borough Council, which has been working in partnership with Heritage Lincolnshire, has received an initial thumbs up for a townscape Heritage bid from the HLF for work in the town centre.

Development funding of £73,000 means that they will be able to start refining their plans in order to apply for a full grant – totalling £1,069,000 in the future.

This project will mean further money can be spent on the eastern side of the Market Place, building on the regeneration work already carried out, by conserving and enhancing the historic architecture and the street layout.

Essential repairs could also be carried out to historic buildings in parts of the Market Place, Dolphin Lane and Pump Square, including projects which enhance those properties. This work could see the reinstatement of traditional shop fronts.

It is hoped that local people will also be able to benefit from a programme of free training and workshops, where local people can learn more about Boston’s history, as well as new skills in traditional building, construction and archaeological building recording and research.

Heritage Lincolnshire chief executive officer Liz Bates is pleased about the Heritage Lottery Fund’s support.

“Boston has such a rich history and the buildings in the town centre tell a fascinating story about people living and working in the area over the past 800 years,” she said. “We are very much looking forward to working with all of the project partners in making this investment into the town’s future.”

The Heritage Lottery Fund has also made £50,000 available for a project which will make it easier for visitors to find their way around Boston.

The money, which will be backed by match-funding from Boston Borough Council and Lincolnshire County Council, will be used to improve existing signage and to tell stories about Boston’s fascinating history.

It will make the best use of existing fingerposts and provide new signage in the town. New maps, featuring character and shopping zones will also be installed. The idea is to encourage people to discover how much Boston offers culturally and historically, as well as its wealth of shopping.

Boston Borough Council, Lincolnshire Chamber and Heritage Lincolnshire plans to run consultation events and campaigns to involve everyone interested in this project, which could be added to over time.

THE STUMP
St Botolph’s – more affectionately known as The Stump – dominates Boston’s skyline, and is definitely a ‘must’ for every visitor.

Described by Pevsner as a ‘giant among English Parish Churches’ this towering landmark, which was started in 1309 and completed in its current form in 1390 (with the tower added later and finished in the early sixteenth century) is worthy of closer inspection for its architecture alone.

In addition to offering daily prayer and workshops, and hospitality to people from around the town, country and wider world, The Stump has its own shop selling gifts and CDs. This is open daily from 10am to 4pm. There is also a cafe, which is open between 10am and 3pm.

The Stump, which celebrated its 700th anniversary in 2009, also hosts a variety of events – such as the forthcoming appearance by Ricky Valance, talking about My Life, My Story on 25th April at 7pm. Tickets are available from the Stump Shop or online.

SHOPPING AND EATING OUT
Retail therapy seekers will find that Boston offers a real mix of shopping, whether you are looking for high street or designer fashions, furniture and furnishings, jewellery or even a musical instrument. The town is home to long-standing independent and family-run businesses, as well as well-known national names.

If you enjoy the department store experience, Oldrids has been a feature of the streetscape since 1804 and, in addition to its Strait Bargate outlet, runs Downtown on the skirts of Boston, offering a wide range of furniture, flooring and electrical goods.
Fashionistas can check out the designer fashions in Coneys in Boston, or explore the rails in Timothy Guy and Cherries.

Another long-standing independent, Cammack & Sons Ltd was founded in 1919 by Francis Alfred Cammack, but its distinctive furniture store in Wide Bargate was built in the 1930s.

Pescod Square is the place to find many mainstream high street brands, from Costa Coffee to Wilkinsons and Bonmarché. The town is also well-known for its lively markets, which take place on Wednesday and Saturday.

There’s a good choice of places to eat in Boston and the diverse population means that there are eateries offering everything from Chinese to Indian and a wide range of European dishes.

But if you can’t resist a plate of good old fish and chips, you will find a trip to Boston isn’t complete without a visit to Tates, one of the longest established fish and chip shops and restaurants in the country.

CREATING HAPPIER AND HEALTHIER COMMUNITIES
Residents in Boston have been asked how they would like to put £1million pounds to work, to breathe extra life into their communities.

Boston Big Local – a partnership made up of a diverse group of people, including representatives from a variety of organisations – has drawn up an action plan after undertaking wide ranging consultations over the past two years.

The Partnership has now told the national organisation Local Trust how they plan to spend the first £200,000 of Boston’s £1m – which is being made available over a period of ten years.

Local Trust, which is backed by an investment of more than £200m from the Big Lottery Fund, is masterminding the Big Local initiative, which is providing people living in 150 different areas around England with the chance to make life better for residents living on their patch.

Mick Taylor of TaylorITEX CIC, which is Local Trusted Organisation, said: “The aim is to enhance Boston by building closer communications between everyone, making the area more attractive, encouraging new businesses and helping to make the facilities better.”

The main priorities for the initial two years are: improving people’s health and wellbeing, creating a more attractive environment, achieving a greater community spirit and encouraging enterprise.

Sixteen priorities have been agreed and from April Boston Big Local will be able to fund organisations which have successfully tendered to deliver different projects. One of the first will see Boston Sure Start children’s centre providing opportunities to improve residents’ health, through music, sports and cultural activities.

The Geoff Moulder Leisure Centre has also tendered to run three free ninety-minute lunchtime activity sessions for Boston residents.

“The most important difference about Big Local is that it is local people who decide what the priority projects are and they control how the money we receive is used,” added Mr Taylor.

HANSEATIC LEAGUE
Boston Borough Council is looking to revive an old tradition – by rejoining the Hanseatic League.

Seven hundred years after a break in membership, the authority is to apply to become a member of Die Hanse. Today’s League is an alliance of the countries once allied to the medieval group.

Today’s League aims to foster social and cultural alliances and bring about closer economic ties. The authority will apply to become a member, and will fund the initial two-years membership of the Hanse business sub-group. Council officers will also facilitate initial meetings of the Boston Hanse Group. The application will be considered in early June when the League meets in Estonia.

Boston was a key player in the thirteenth century, when the port was thriving and it had main trading partners across the North Sea and was an important member of the Hanseatic League.

The business sub-group membership is a one-off joining fee of £200, followed by an annual subscription of £150.

CREWYARD HOLIDAY COTTAGES
Former farm buildings have been converted into three single-storey holiday cottages positioned around an enclosed courtyard, offering a comfortable home from home.

Open all year round, the three beautifully presented holiday cottages – Moorhen, Mallard and Curlew – sleep two, three and four guests respectively. Fully equipped with all bed linen and towels, each cottage benefits from its own outdoor space with a dining table and chairs and views overlooking three acres of well-maintained gardens and a lake – open for guests to enjoy the varied wildlife which frequents the area, including woodpeckers, barn and tawny owls and kestrels to name a few.

Nature lovers and birdwatchers alike can visit one of the many nature reserves in the vicinity, including Freiston Shore, Frampton Marsh and Gibraltar Point and the famous Wash – a Special Protection Area. Walkers and cyclists can actively explore the surrounding countryside, with more leisurely days out spent visiting nearby Boston. Other places of interest within a reasonable travelling distance include the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight at Coningsby, the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre at East Kirkby and the city of Lincoln with its famous Cathedral.

A number of pubs, restaurants and cafes can be found within a five-mile radius with the closest a short five-minute drive away. The nearest village of Leverton hosts a convenience store for general supplies and newsagents.

A laundry room and a games room, with a full-sized snooker table, can also be found onsite.

Ample off road parking is available. Everards, Highgate, Leverton, Boston, Lincolnshire PE22 0AW, T: 01205 871389, M: 07896369043, E: gina@gina31.wanadoo.co.uk, W: www.crewyardholidaycottages.co.uk

BOSTON CONSERVATIVE CLUB
Boston Conservative Club is not just a political club, it is also a meeting place for organisations and clubs like Judo and Salsa and many more. The Club also offers a special rate to charities for fundraising events, events like discos and quiz nights.

The venue is conveniently situated two minutes from the town centre and holds a large function room and a smaller split lounge room with pool table and separate snooker room. A large function room holds parties of up to 150 and is an ideal space for all special occasions. The smaller lounge area is a perfect space for baby showers, christening or funerals. Either room is also ideal for conferences and corporate events.

If you want somewhere nice to go, with a licensed bar, food, entertainment and a warm and friendly atmosphere Boston Conservative Club invites you to join. New members are always welcome. Food service Wed and Sat 12–2pm. Saturday night live entertainment. Tel: 01205 362309 for more information and bookings.

DATE FOR BUSINESSES
Boston Business Club meetings have been increased from bi-monthly to monthly, giving owners and managers of local businesses even more opportunities to make new contacts and network.

Jenny Elwick, who is Network Development Officer for Boston Area Chamber (part of Lincolnshire Chamber) said meetings are also being hosted at members’ premises, allowing them to showcase what they do.

The Club next meets on 30th April at Fogarty (Filled Products) Ltd at Havenside, Fishtoft Road, Boston. The meeting, which runs from 7.30am to 9am, will include a tour of the company’s facilities.

BOSTON COLLEGE
This academic year, Boston College are proudly celebrating 50 years of being a prominent and successful part of the community. The college has had an impressive impact on the area, growing in size and course provision from just nineteen courses in 1964, to over 250 courses today.

This year alone, the college accommodates over 7,000 local and international students studying a variety of courses across different learning pathways such as: A level, Vocational, Adult Bite-size and Higher Education, with a further 486 students participating in Apprenticeship and Traineeship programmes.

The college prides itself on the free, impartial advice and guidance offered by the careers team, for both internal and external learners, ensuring each individual embarks on the appropriate course in order to prepare them for successful progression into their chosen careers.

Every year, Boston College sees students of all ages move into roles within their dream careers. This is testament to the incredible standard of teaching by specialised industry experienced lecturers.

To keep up to date with the college, ‘Like’ them on Facebook and follow on Twitter, and for a closer look at college life, check out the new course area videos on YouTube.

For more information on how studying at Boston College could benefit you, please contact the information line on 01205 313218, alternatively take a look at the website www.boston.ac.uk.

BOSTONIAN
Pilgrim Hospital, Boston is looking for passionate, enthusiastic and driven nurses to join its team. United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, is creating around 100 new posts for registered nurses, allied health professionals and people looking to return to work, across all its hospitals.

Pilgrim Hospital has listed just some of the reasons why you should work for them:
• Their award-winning hip fracture team have been named the best in the country for ensuring that patients are operated on quickly for two years running.
• The hospital invested £250,000 into its Ambulatory Emergency Care unit which has received excellent patient feedback since it opened in October 2013.
• Diverse and multicultural workforce, serving the thriving market town of Boston.

Acting Chief Nurse Pauleen Pratt said: “This is an exciting time to come and work at Pilgrim. We are making massive improvements in the quality of our services, and are looking to recruit more clinical staff to build on the excellent improvements in care we have already made.”

DEMODECK
Dectosafe™ Limited is a friendly but progressive, independently owned manufacturing and service company based near Skegness Lincolnshire. As well as producing high quality Non-Slip Decking Boards they provide innovative and attractive safety solutions for exterior surfaces and a range of unique wall panels to both the private and commercial sectors with their products being used throughout the UK.

“Our Dectosafe™ Non Slip Decking Boards® are the latest innovation in the rubber decking market based on the Dectosafe™ surfacing providing one of the best safety decking boards available today. Our unique design resolves the issues of water retention, icing and exposed timber is a concern with other rubber top decking boards.

“In addition we re-surface hard standing, paths, drives and existing decking, rejuvenating tired and unsafe surfaces with a durable, smart and safe one without extensive ground works and in a short space of time.”

BLACKFRIARS
Blackfriars is fast approaching its 50th anniversary year (2016) and the theatre continues to go from strength to strength. With growing audience numbers and a wide range of programming, the theatre has really placed itself as the centre for entertainment and the arts locally. The art exhibitions in the foyer have recently started again and members of the public are encouraged to come and have a look. Why not have a coffee and use the complimentary Wi-Fi whilst you’re there? As a volunteer run organisation Blackfriars are always looking for new volunteers, whether it be in the Box Office, Front of House, Backstage or the bar. If you’re interested please call 01205 363108 for more information. For details of all upcoming shows and to book tickets, please visit the website at www.blackfriarsartscentre.co.uk.

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