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Photography: Mick Fox
Featured in the April 2021 issue

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Lincolnshire has many traditional market towns with charm, history and a quintessential British feel. Spilsby, located just north of the Fens at the southern edge of the rolling Lincolnshire Wolds, is a perfect example. By Melanie Burton

With a number of traditional shops, a Monday market consisting mainly of locally grown produce and stone streets that have changed little since the beginning of the 19th century, there is no wonder Spilsby is a popular place to visit.

Although it is one of the smaller market towns in the Wolds area, it has the traditional market town style with a main square for the market and four main streets leading off it.

Under normal circumstances there is much to do in and around Spilsby with historic attractions, country parks and nature reserves to visit and a whole range of shops to browse. And of course it is only 12 miles from the East Coast. Spilsby is therefore an ideal base from which to explore the neighbouring countryside, the rolling Lincolnshire Wolds and the historical buildings that take you back in time such as Gunby Hall, which for nearly three centuries was home to the Massingberd family.

Gunby Hall is a homely country house dating back to 1700, set in Victorian walled gardens at the foot of the Wolds. It has three floors to explore while outside the gardens are full of colour throughout the seasons.

Paths across the park and estate offer gentle strolls as well as longer walks, where you can tread the footsteps of Gunby’s former guests, who include Alfred, Lord Tennyson and Ralph Vaughan-Williams.

Sir William Massingberd, the second baronet of the family, moved his family to Gunby Hall and it was their home for more than 250 years.

The entire estate was given to the National Trust in 1944 by Field Marshal Sir Archibald and Lady Montgomery Massingberd but it wasn’t until 2012 that the Trust took on full management of the property.

Spilsby is also famed for being the birthplace of the renowned Arctic explorer, Sir John Franklin, who served under Admiral Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar and from 1834-1845 he was Governor of Tasmania. He is remembered most for his attempts to find the Northwest Passage linking the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans.

Dominating the market area is an impressive statue of him and on the wall of the Franklin House Bakery (now Couplands) there is a plaque denoting his birthplace.

BUSINESS SUPPORT SCHEME
Lockdown has been hard for the tourism and hospitality sector as well as for businesses and retailers but East Lindsey District Council has launched a business support pilot scheme aimed at supporting high street retailers in the town.

Delivered by Ophelia Gamble from The Rural Retailer, and her team of specialists, the Healthy You, Healthy Business programme supports local retailers to improve the customer experience and increase the use of sales channels through the business by offering practical advice and easy-to-follow steps.

Using their years of experience, the team will work with businesses to undertake a diagnostic to identify strengths and weaknesses and create a tailored plan to take the business forward.

The programme is the latest initiative launched as part of the district council’s Vital and Viable project and follows requests from retailers in Spilsby and in Alford for dedicated support. ELDC hopes that the programme will help to improve the existing high street offer and ensure that the towns are thriving and ready for a post-Covid future.

Ophelia said: “We are here to bring a hands-on, sleeves rolled up, action driven programme that is bespoke to each retailer we work with. In addition to this we will be collaborating with community groups and clubs to seek out extended high street supporters that are keen to champion their town’s retailers long into the future.”

Councillor Adam Grist, Portfolio Holder for Market Towns and Rural Economy, added: “I’m very pleased to be able to bring forward this next step in our Vital and Viable programme, especially as support for the high street was a clear request from stakeholders during our meetings in the town.

“I look forward to seeing the great work that Ophelia and her team of specialists can deliver. If the pilot goes well, we would definitely look at extending the programme to our other Vital and Viable towns.”

COMMUNITY BUILDING
There are many community groups, clubs, organisations and churches in Spilsby which have worked together to support and help get the town through the pandemic.

Spilsby Christian Fellowship is one such group that has not only been a pillar of the town for more than 90 years but has offered essential support for families during this difficult period through its Food and School Uniform Banks. It also offers a range of activities in normal times such as parent and toddler groups and youth groups.

Formerly ‘The Pentecostal Church’ the Christian Fellowship is now a small independent friendly church and as members of ‘Churches Together in Spilsby’ serves the local community through practical, emotional and spiritual support.

Spilsby also has a Roman Catholic Church, Our Lady and the English Martyrs (which dates back 100 years) and Spilsby Methodist Church (built in1878). The Church of England’s St James Church on the corner of Church Street and Boston Road was built at the beginning of the 14th century with the traditional Spilsby sandstone of the area. However, it has been altered many times. Apart from the tower, it was covered with Ancaster stone in 1879.

St James Parish Church is not only a place of worship but also attracts visitors to the town with its connections to the Willoughby de Eresby and the Franklin families.

Spilsby also has its own theatre which is a Grade II listed heritage site, originally built in 1827 as a Sessions House and prison. It has an impressive neoclassical Doric columned frontage and is one of Spilsby’s, and Lincolnshire’s, most significant buildings. The prison was demolished in 1876, but the building remained in use as a courthouse and police station until the 1980s when it was converted into Spilsby Theatre.

However it has not been fully operational since 2015 and due to the condition of the building it remains on the national ‘Theatres at Risk Register’ and is also on Heritage Lincolnshire’s list of buildings ‘at risk’. The theatre is run by Spilsby Sessions House Ltd whose core aims are the preservation of the Sessions House and the promotion of the arts for the benefit of the public. Currently the theatre is operating community arts events from one small room and events have been streamed online during the Covid-19 closures.

Spilsby may be a small town, but it is home to some big and well-established companies that are known far and wide.

One renowned, award-winning company putting Spilsby on the map is Dennett’s Ice Cream, which has been established in the town for more than 100 years. Robin Dennett is now at the helm, together with his wife Claire and daughter Kate, but it was initially set up in 1926 as a creamery by his grandparents Arthur and Mary Dennett who were dairy farmers. From 1946 Robin’s father Eric ran the business developing the new flavours of ice cream himself and the business had 29 varieties including brandy and orange.

Robin came home to work with his father in 1980 and took over running the business when his father died in 2003.

NEXT PHASE FOR TONG ENGINEERING
Tong Engineering has been established for more than 85 years and exports vegetable handling equipment to more than 50 countries worldwide. As part of the company’s ongoing development programme, Tong Engineering has unveiled several updates to its range of vegetable polishing equipment.

“As a supplier to the food industry we have been fortunate that demand for advanced and automated vegetable handling equipment has continued to strengthen,” explains Simon Lee, sales manager at Tong Engineering.

“With this in mind, our product development team not only focus on designing and introducing new equipment to the market, but they are also committed to developing our existing machinery. Updating our vegetable polishers is the latest phase of this continuous development strategy.”

Originally introduced to the market in 2012, the TPS-Pro polisher features an electric direct-drive motor inside every brush shaft. The machine’s low-maintenance design uses the highest quality components, providing exceptional longevity, labour efficiency and superior polishing results. The latest model of the TPS-Pro polisher has been carefully fine-tuned for 2021 resulting in a more refined design that maximises performance and makes maintenance even easier.

Tong’s popular U-Brush polisher, which is a favourite amongst smaller packers who require a reliable, low-maintenance machine that provides a high-value polished finish, but at a lower cost, has also been updated for 2021 to increase the machine’s capacity.

“Our range of vegetable polishers accommodates the throughput requirements of both the largest vegetable processors and smaller fresh-pack companies and we are very much dedicated to providing the complete handling solution at all capacities,” added Simon.

Tong began trading as ironmongers in Spilsby back in the early 1930s, run by Edmund Jackson Tong. Edmund’s son Ken saw an opportunity to diversify into making simple equipment for local farmers, so he started his new business in a former candle making factory in Spilsby with equipment such as sack barrows and pig pens. The business flourished and became independent from the shop, which trades as EJ Tong and Sons and is run by another branch of the family.

In January this year Tong Engineering was given the go-ahead for construction of the second phase development at its new manufacturing facility in the town. As part of a planned two-phase project, the company’s £3.6 million first phase building was completed in August last year and the plan is to move into the new facility in the autumn.

Edward Tong, managing director at Tong Engineering, said: “Despite a somewhat challenging 2020, we were extremely thankful that our plans for the first phase build were able to progress with minimal disruption, allowing us to start operating from the new site last summer.

“We are very excited to be able to proceed with our plans for the next phase of our new factory. Having developed our current site from its early beginnings in the 1930s, we have had to be very resourceful in how we utilise and maximise our manufacturing space.

“Our new purpose-built manufacturing facility will provide over 20% more capacity which will not only allow us to better meet demand for our industry-leading equipment, but with the size and scale of many projects increasing all the time, the additional space and height will prove invaluable.” \

FRANKLIN HALL
The hub of any small rural community is often the village or town hall and Spilsby is no exception.

Named Franklin Hall, after the famous Arctic explorer Sir John Franklin who was born in the town, it has served the community for more than 120 years in different ways and is now playing its part in the fight against Covid.

The building in Halton Road is currently being used as a mass vaccination site serving the patients of GP practices based in Spilsby, Alford, Stickney and Old Leake.

Originally known as the Drill Hall it was built in 1899 for the 7th Spilsby Rifle Volunteer Corps and had housing for Sergeant instructors as well as a long rifle range annexe down the west side of the building.

In the early 1900s the army nationally replaced the Rifle Volunteer Corps with the Territorial Army Battalions and in 1912 ‘C’ company of the 5th Territorial Battalion of Lincolnshire was based in the Drill Hall.

During the Great War, Spilsby Drill Hall was used as a Red Cross hospital, manned by volunteer nurses caring for wounded soldiers.

Following the Armistice of 1918 the Lincolnshire Regiment resumed its occupancy and continued to be based there up to and throughout the Second World War.

In 1964 the Drill Hall was sold to a board of Trustees on behalf of the Spilsby and District community ‘for the use of the inhabitants of Spilsby and neighbourhood without distinction of sex or of political, religious or other opinions and for use in particular for meetings, lectures, classes and other forms of recreation and leisure time occupancy with the object of improving the conditions of life for the said inhabitants’.

Known as the New Town Hall, it became a charitable trust and was a very popular venue for many functions mainly due to its large size. However, by the mid-1990s it became obvious that major refurbishment was required to maintain the building and bring it up to modern standards to accommodate a range of different user groups.

The refurbishment was completed in March 2001 and it became known as Spilsby Franklin Hall (in honour of Sir John Franklin) and was declared officially open by Miss T M Maddison of Partney, who was a descendant of Sir John Franklin.

SILLS & BETTERIDGE
Sills & Betteridge Solicitors LLP have occupied 1 Ashby Road, Spilsby for 14 years following their merger with Thimblebys Solicitors in June 2007 and Walkers, Rainey & Owen four months later. However, their connection with the town goes far further back to the early 1800s.

Sir John Franklin was a family friend and neighbour of John and Edmund Bromehead, who ran their Lincoln practice between 1810 and 1861!

In more recent years, the team managed by Partner, Kirsty Baxter have become well known in the Spilsby area for trusted legal advice.

The firm has continued to operate throughout lockdown with safe new ways of supporting clients, and looks forward to reopening the offices as soon as the current Covid restrictions are lifted.

For more information contact Sills & Betteridge Solicitors:
1 Ashby Road, Spilsby,
Lincolnshire PE23 5DT
Tel: 01790 752277
info@sillslegal.co.uk
www.sillslegal.co.uk

PLANNING FOR A SECURE FUTURE
Whatever age or stage of life you are at, planning your financial future is essential for peace of mind. From retirement planning to mortgage advice and restructuring finances, the friendly, experienced team of advisers at JWA Wealth Management in Spilsby offer expert advice and pride themselves on working closely with clients to build a relationship based on trust and mutual understanding.

“Financial planning is beneficial at all stages of life, whether that’s help with budgeting expenses when trying to save to buy your first property, or arranging an income for retirement,” explains JWA financial consultant, Crystal White.

“Nobody can predict the future and we all like to think it won’t happen to us, but it’s inevitable that people get ill and may be unable to work or businesses get into financial difficulty, putting jobs at risk.

“This is why any sort of financial planning is built on a foundation of a good emergency pot, which is cash savings that can be easily accessed in an emergency and used to cover household expenses allowing a bit of breathing space.”
JWA Wealth Management is a Partner Practice of St. James’s Place. Crystal points out that the term ‘Wealth Management’ doesn’t mean someone has to be ‘wealthy’ to benefit from the company’s services. “We aim to manage personal wealth, whether that’s helping clients make the most of their savings, or building a budget to be able to make savings from their income,” she explains. “We take time to get to know our clients in order to discover their hopes and dreams and discuss priorities and what’s important to them. From this picture we highlight the tweaks they can make to their planning in order to help make their dreams a reality.”

For more information visit www.partnership.sjp.co.uk/jwawealthmanagement
JWA Wealth Management is an Appointed Representative of and represents only St. James’s Place Wealth Management plc (which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority) for the purpose of advising solely on the group’s wealth management products and services, more details of which are set out on the group’s website www.sjp.co.uk/products
The ‘St. James’s Place Partnership’ and the titles ‘Partner’ and ‘Partner Practice’ are marketing terms used to describe St. James’s Place representatives.

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