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

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Charming and surprising, the North Lincolnshire town is a great place to go exploring – whether you love retail therapy, local history or simply soaking up the streetscene.

With its colourful markets, amazing range of independent shops, cafes and pubs, this destination offers something for everyone, including family events which are not to be missed.

You can catch Brigg’s weekly markets on Thursdays and Saturdays and browse and buy at the popular Farmers’ Market on the fourth Saturday of the month.

As an added incentive to visit Brigg, you can park all day for free on Saturdays and enjoy two hours’ free parking on other days.

The Brigg Town Business Partnership (BTBP) currently boasts nearly seventy member companies, along with a number of valued associates from within the community, reflecting the uniqueness of this market town.

The Partnership is proud of what the town offers in the way of retail and service businesses, but it is always striving to come up with new initiatives to raise Brigg’s profile and spread the word about its DNA.

And there is plenty to talk about, because this is a place where you will find a wealth of long-standing, family-run, businesses which have stood the test of time, trading alongside national names and entrepreneurs who have spotted opportunities to join the mix.

This is good news because the Partnership is keen to dispel any misconceptions that local shopping is expensive or that it offers people less choice. It claims there is evidence that, for every £10 spent locally, £25 is generated for the local economy – compared to £14 spent in the multinationals.

Partnership chairman Malcolm Bailey said: “Our members own and run businesses, ranging from fashion boutiques to home furnishing outlets and eating and drinking establishments.”

It’s true, you can buy everything from a new bed, to a dining table, fantastic artworks, contemporary and vintage clothing, to colourful fabrics and quirky gifts in Brigg.

“I think that the town is on the up. There is an energy about Brigg and an enthusiasm about the local economy, not just among members of the Partnership, but in the town as a whole,” said Malcolm.

“There are lots of exciting initiatives, including those led by ourselves. Seventy-seven businesses in the town recently subscribed to a new leaflet promoting our strong community of independents.

“This was made available within the Discover North Lincolnshire marquee at the Lincolnshire Show and the leaflets will eventually be available at each of the ‘gateways’ to Brigg (our car parks, and bus and train stations) together with a new information board, starting with the Old Courts car park.”

BTBP vice-chairman Jane Kitching said that Brigg is now one step nearer installing landmark feature arches, as part of a special project aimed at encouraging more people to discover ‘hidden’ areas of the town.

The BTBP is represented on the Vision 2020 Group – which is working to turn people’s aspirations for Brigg into a reality. It has suggested that installing archways and artistic signage would encourage more shoppers and visitors to discover its fascinating courts and yards.

“As part of the Vision 2020 Group, which is chaired MP Andrew Percy, we did a walking tour and carried out a street audit,” said Jane.

“We realised that many people drive into the Old Courts Car Park, see the back of shop premises, but never wander around and see how much the town offers.

“We suggested that iron archways could be put up which would lead people into and through the courts and yards and further into the town. This would encourage more people to visit them and their resident businesses.”

BTBP was encouraged to get North Lindsey College involved. Students came up with designs for the arches and people voted for their favourites as part of a public consultation.

“We were delighted with the response. Now we are looking into potentially installing arches leading into College Yard, School Court, Chapel Court and possibly Coney Court, along with a feature in Wrawby Street signposting people to other alleyways,” said Jane.

BTBP is continuing to work with the College students and looking at who might engineer the arches and complementary signage. Planning permission will also be needed before any installations can take place.

A one-day workshop on the Courts and Yards of Brigg is also taking place in September – in collaboration with BASH (Brigg Amateur Social Historians) to finalise the wording for history plaques that will accompany the arches.

Events are playing an increasingly important role in tempting people to not only visit town and city centres, but to spend more time in them too.

BTBP’s established events programme sees the return of Briggstock, the popular acoustic music festival, for the fourth consecutive year, on 5th September. This festival-style event features a main stage and three busking stations, and encourages shoppers and visitors to follow the music and let it lead them to different parts of the town.

BTBP is also starting to plan for Christmas and once again playing its part in the festivities, which will see the traditional Fair and Lights Switch-On organised by Brigg & District Lions, with support from the Town Council. The Partnership said there will be the Brigg Christmas Posada, which borrows the idea of commemorating Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem from Spanish and Mexican traditions, making it something special to Brigg.

The journey begins at the Brigg Christmas Fair on Friday 4th December and ends on Christmas Eve, with a service in St John’s Church. Figures of Joseph and Mary will be hosted at a variety of ‘resting places’ provided by the community, including shops.

The initiative is supported by the Partnership, following its discussions with Andrew Ballard from the Ecumenical Group.

Another popular festive event run by the BTBP is the Best Dressed Window Competition, and the Partnership is also looking at packages of support, including workshops, in order to help businesses with their Christmas promotions.

Brigg’s festive scene will also benefit from a recent investment in LED lighting which will, once again, be used to transform the streetscape.

LOCAL FLOORING EXPERTS

Parkers of Brigg has been established for thirty-nine years and is a family run business with a great team of sales personnel and in-house fitters. They pride themselves on customer service and satisfaction, with ninety per cent of their business coming from personal recommendation, and provide flooring for private residences as well as commercial properties.

All of their floors are installed to an exceptional standard, with a large range to cater for all budgets, including luxury vinyl floors, carpets and rugs, as well as blinds.

RETAIL THERAPY

If you love shopping with niche, family-run businesses or enjoy supporting worthwhile organisations, a visit to Brigg won’t disappoint. There’s all manner of traditional and contemporary retailers and charity shops waiting to welcome you in a pedestrianised town, which is easy and pleasant to walk around.

Brigg is home to many long-standing businesses which have clearly stood the test of time and have been visited by generations of the same families, but it also regularly attracts newcomers. Popular shopping areas include Wrawby Street, Princes Street and the Market Place. Brigg’s fascinating courts and yards are also worthy of more than a second glance.

Well-known shops in the town include Grandad’s Shed, which sells furniture and accessories for every room and which has The Loft restaurant above; Wallhead’s – a town a country clothing shop – which has been trading for more than 117 years; The Bed Shop, which stocks all manner of beds and bedroom furniture, and the sewing shop Jaylaurs.

Newer arrivals include the vintage clothing outlet Retro Revolution and a recently launched hairdressing enterprise, The Bank.
Jaylaurs, which is owned by Jane Brett, celebrated thirty-two years in business in August. The Wrawby Street shop is a real Aladdin’s Cave and a favourite haunt of people who love sewing, patchwork and other crafts.

“We have a big range of fabrics, including American patchwork materials, haberdashery and crafting essentials. People travel from miles around, including the other side of the Humber Bridge, to visit us because there are not a lot of fabric shops around,” said Jane.

“We have a Facebook page and use PayPal so that people can shop remotely, but they definitely enjoy coming into the shop and seeing the fabrics and feeling the quality of the materials.

“I think there’s a real revival in home sewing, especially since the Sewing Bee was on television. As well as selling fabric, we stock haberdashery essentials, offer clothing alterations and soft furnishings and we may do sewing classes in the future.”

Retro Revolution, which is the brainchild of Andy Coleman and his partner Lauren Hobbs, opened in School Court seven months ago. Andy, who is originally from Manchester, and Lauren used to work in the construction field.

“We decided we wanted to open our first shop in Brigg, which Lauren knows well,  because it has a lovely atmosphere. We feel it is up-and-coming and we wanted to help move it forward,” said Andy.

“We sell retro and vintage men’s and women’s wear and we are based in School Court alongside other businesses including Honeybee Interiors and Events, a ladies’ lingerie shop.”

Andy said Retro Revolution has got off to a good start and, in common with many other businesses, is keen to see more people taking a closer look at Brigg’s niche alleyways:

“We decided to join the Brigg Town Business Partnership to meet new faces, get involved and help the town to survive.”

One of Brigg’s even newer arrivals is the hairdressing salon, The Bank. This appropriately-named enterprise is headed by business partners Daniel Miller and Lucy Wallis and, as you might have guessed, it is based in the ground floor of Brigg’s former Lloyds/TSB Bank. The salon has breathed new life into what was latterly a clothes shop.

The Bigby Street business is staffed by a team of nine people – including some hairdressers who rent chairs. One member of the team also offers a nail care service, but is about to embark on an hairdressing apprenticeship. There is also a Saturday junior.

Coincidentally, Daniel and Lucy’s decision to start their first business has opened the door to a great opportunity for Daniel’s mum, Margaret. She is now the salon receptionist (having previously worked in the special needs sector).

Margaret said: “Daniel and Lucy felt that now was a good time to make the break into working for themselves and they have also successfully rented out chairs on a full and part-time basis to other hairdressers.

“We got off to a flying start after more than 100 people turned up for our launch party. There are quite a few hairdressers in Brigg so we are trying to offer our clients a different experience, with a range of beverages, homemade cakes, a relaxation area with candles, fresh flowers and quality magazines.”

GOOD FOR CHARITY
Lindsey Lodge Hospice head of fundraising, Mel Banham said taking a new five-year lease on its Hospice Shop in Wrawby Street has proved that Brigg is also a good base for a voluntary sector business.

“Having traded in a much smaller shop in Brigg since 2006, we took on the remainder of an existing lease and moved down the street over Christmas 2013, opening at the end of January 2014. 

“It soon became clear that the move to bigger premises made sense, as last financial year it enabled us to increase takings so that we trebled the amount, after costs, available for hospice patient care. 

“This vital development would not have been possible without the goodwill of the staff, both paid and voluntary, involved with the shop and all the fantastic customers and supporters who donate pre-loved goods for resale.

“All of the hard work and support means that we were confident about renewing the lease so that we continue to play a part in the Brigg business community and raise vital funds for hospice care for people in and around Brigg in their time of need.”

WALLHEAD’S MENSWEAR FOR QUALITY COUNTRY WEAR
Founded in 1897 by James Blackburn Wallhead, Wallhead’s Menswear remains a family business, and is run today by fourth-generation Richard Wallhead. The shop specialises in men’s and ladies’ clothing from well-known brands such as Schoffel, Barbour, Brook Taverner, Le Chameau, Aigle, Viyella, Peter England, Gurteen and Farah, Hawick knitwear and Olney hats and caps.

Wallhead’s caters for formal, casual and country wear. Quality shooting clothing by German brand Schoffel is available, including tweed breeks and waistcoats, caps to match and five top-class Gore-Tex and Venturi shooting coats all fully waterproof and machine washable. Fantastic Schoffel ski jackets for men and ladies are also stocked.

Call into the shop and enjoy personal attention and good old-fashioned customer service. Wallhead’s welcomes customers who regularly drive over 200 miles to visit the shop. Brigg has much to offer.

Wallhead’s Menswear Est 1897, 52 Wrawby Street, Brigg.

SPORTING EVENT
The 27th of September will see the return of a popular sporting event – the Keyo Brigg Sprint Triathlon, which is organised by Lincsquad. It runs from 6am to 2pm, and kicks off at the Ancholme Leisure Centre.

This exciting challenge sees participants swimming sixteen lengths of the Centre’s twenty-five-metre pool, followed by a twenty-kilometre road cycle, before finishing with a 5k road run.

PROVIDING A UNIQUE SERVICE
Brigg Beds has been established for about fifteen years and is headed by three partners, whose top priorities are offering quality products and great personal service.

The Princes Street business is a specialist in helping people to choose the right bed for the perfect night’s sleep, as well as the ideal range of furniture to complement it.

Partner Dave Lewis said: “I think Brigg is a little bit unique. People very much have the attitude that they want to support independent traders and shoppers like the fact that you can get virtually anything you want here.”

In common with many other small businesses, Dave and his colleagues would encourage shoppers who have not yet fully discovered the town, to take the time to wander around and find out how much is on offer.

“We are proud of the fact that we are quite a flexible business. When it comes to beds, we are able to supply a variety of sizes to meet people’s individual requirements, say, if they are taller than average, or elderly, or in need of an orthopaedic bed.”

The business can also help customers to choose from a variety of mattresses, from coil sprung to memory foam versions.

“Our bedroom furniture is all freestanding, or modular, so people can choose pieces which are ideal for their particular needs and to suit the size of their room,” said Dave.

Brigg Beds also delivers within thirty miles of its shop, which is ideal if you live in the Scunthorpe, Grimsby and Lincoln areas.

INTERNATIONAL CARD DESIGNER AND NORTHERN WILDLIFE ARTIST TO COLLABORATE

An internationally recognised greetings card designer has mounted her first ever exhibition, accompanied by a fine artist based in the north east.

Hannah’s extremely popular whimsical designs of wild animals have won multiple prestigious awards and are found in gift shops up and down the country, as well as being exported worldwide.

A zoology graduate of Cambridge University, she has previously focused on the greetings cards, and has never before had an exhibition of her artwork.

For her first exhibition she has chosen to collaborate with fine artist Andy Broderick, who is regularly found exhibiting throughout Yorkshire and the North East.

Andy, originally from Kilkenny in Ireland, came to the UK in 1998 to study fine art at Teesside University, and decided to stay after graduating, settling in Saltburn-by-the-Sea, North Yorkshire.

The pair have been brought together by Joe Cole, managing director of Natural Partners Limited, a company specialising in publishing fine art greetings cards featuring the work of a wide array of artists and photographers. The company has been publishing cards of Andy’s work since 2012.

The exhibition is called ‘Wild at Heart’ and runs until 19th September at The Steel Rooms in Brigg.

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