Tuesday 23rd July 2019
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Words: Melanie Burton
Photography: Mick Fox
Featured in the April 2019 issue

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The small, picturesque town of Market Rasen, situated on the western edge of the Lincolnshire Wolds, is a destination with plenty to discover, as Melanie Burton finds.

Currently approaching some 4,000 inhabitants, it can be described as a quiet town but with a renowned and highly popular racecourse within its midst, its own railway station and a Festival Hall hosting an array of events and activities, Market Rasen has much to offer residents and visitors alike.

And it isn’t resting on its laurels. Market Rasen Town Council has published its vision to support the growth and sustainability of the town over the three-year period from June 2018 to March 2021.

It has evolved in part as a legacy of past projects and endeavours, but also from work carried out more recently on its own projects and activities, including a feasibility study on the council’s community venue; a re-invigorated calendar of town events; investment in a new skatepark and early work on re-imagining the future of the Old Police Station.

It is hoped that the current strategy, with support from West Lindsey District Council, will provide a resilient framework for the town’s future development.

The council’s plans are to make Market Rasen an attractive place to live in, work in and visit and they include addressing poor health outcomes and social vulnerability; giving people of all ages in the town a wide choice of music, entertainment, theatre and live events and ensuring Market Rasen develops the housing, business and commercial capacity for its future growth; helping to address a skills deficit.

It also aims to influence responsible bodies and transport providers to deliver a good quality and affordable service for residents and businesses.

Projects are already underway to help achieve some of the council’s aims. Work is set to start this spring on a new multi-million pound, dry leisure facility for the town in Gainsborough Road which will include health and fitness facilities, four court indoor sports hall, a 3G outdoor pitch, changing facilities and a café. It is hoped the new centre will be open by May 2020.

The facility, which will have the capacity to cater for 183,000 people annually, is part of West Lindsey District Council’s £7.8 million investment to improve the health of people in the area.

Latest figures show worryingly high numbers of overweight people across the West Lindsey district, with hospital admissions for Type 2 diabetes in the district topping the county chart – with worrying levels in Market Rasen and Middle Rasen. There are also 1,100 registered dementia sufferers in the district.

Councillor Sheila Bibb, chairman of the Prosperous Communities Committee at the council welcomed the news.

“Health and wellbeing is a key priority for the council – especially when we discovered that 80 per cent of people in our district do not currently have ready access to any leisure facilities, or currently do not attend them, which is why the council has pledged to invest in leisure facilities,” she said.

“We see how our population is due to grow and that we must look at how we best serve the needs of our people, both now and in the future.

“It now means we are able to offer more opportunities for all those who enjoy living in West Lindsey to improve and maintain a healthy lifestyle.”

Last year, residents were consulted on the new plans at an exhibition held in the town, which included a virtual reality video, showcasing what the £6.1 million dry leisure facility would look like.

Councillor Jeff Summers, Leader of West Lindsey District Council, said he was very excited about the plans for Market Rasen.

“We have worked very hard and we are putting considerable investment into health and wellbeing across our district for the benefit of local people,” he said.

“Whilst I appreciate we cannot at this stage fulfil all the wishes of residents in terms of building a swimming pool, we are future-proofing the site to be able to develop it, should it become financially viable.

“This is an exciting opportunity for the town, which forms the beginning of a new initiative to energise the economy for Market Rasen.”

Mayor of Market Rasen Town Council, Councillor John Matthews welcomed the news and said: “We have worked closely with West Lindsey District Council, looking at potential sites to support this development.

“This development supports our three-year vision, which is more of a strategic plan for the town over the next 10-15 years.

“We are thrilled with the confidence that West Lindsey District Council has for Market Rasen, investing in the town and making it a destination place.”

The Mayor and the newly formed Town Partnership group also have plans to help establish Market Rasen as a place to visit, with seven ‘major events’ aimed at promoting the Market Place set to take place this year. Councillor Matthews said the partnership had already been looking at possible themes for the events.

The Town Partnership was officially set up in December but has already attracted a range of members, and a number of projects have already been identified and are being worked on. Market Rasen councillor Steve Bunney is the Town Partnership’s chairman.

Another element of the town council’s vision is to help promote the town’s venues to attract more footfall and increase visitor numbers. In particular the town’s Festival Hall and Old Police Station are to receive attention.

The Festival Hall was built in 1972 and consists of a main hall big enough to cater for up to 200 people, a committee room, large catering kitchen and bar.

The venue can be hired for wedding receptions, formal dinners, children’s parties or discos.

There is a large stage area which, in conjunction with the committee room used as dressing rooms, offers a great theatre venue suitable for many types of stage production from variety shows to pantos or plays.

The town council’s vision is for the Festival Hall to be refurbished to create a modern, vibrant community centre for the town and for the town council to base its civic functions at the hall.

Its plans for the Old Police Station are to redevelop it to form a town heritage and tourism information hub. Working in partnership with Rase Heritage Society and Market Rasen Development Trust it hopes to secure funding and deliver this major capital project for the town.

It also wants to showcase the Grade II listed Magistrates’ Court and Police Station as a visitor attraction and town heritage centre and plans to build on the success during 2017 of the Heritage Open Days and WW1 exhibition and community event.

Access to Market Rasen isn’t difficult for visitors from nearby towns and cities as it is lucky enough to still have its own railway station, being situated on the Grimsby–Lincoln–Newark line managed by East Midlands Trains. It was built by the Great Grimsby and Sheffield Junction Railway, with the opening of the line in 1848.

The station was a substantial structure with an overall roof below which all the usual station facilities could be found including a WH Smith bookstall. The station buildings are Grade II listed.

Market Rasen wasn’t always the largest town in the Rasen area. It was originally known as East Rasen, with Middle Rasen being the more important location, and West Rasen following on from there but it became prominent when it was granted the right to a market.

Originally the market took place on Sundays but was changed to Tuesdays in the early thirteenth century. Over the years it has seen a wide assortment of goods bought and sold such as cattle, arable crops, grain, coal, fertiliser and salt.

It is still an integral part of the town with markets taking place on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays and community events taking place throughout the year.

At one time in the nineteenth century it boasted nearly a dozen breweries or beer houses, dealers in coal, lime, sand and agricultural requisites, and manufacturers of items as diverse as tiles and washing machines/mangles. There were many inns, or coaching houses, and the town was a centre for the carters from surrounding villages, who converged on the town for market days.

The Parish Church dates to Norman times, and the town was on the Turnpike from Gainsborough to Louth (the present A631) from 1756.

It received piped water supplies in 1857, its own fire brigade prior to 1850, a Mechanics Institute in 1836, and its own newspaper in 1856.

ENJOY A WILD ADVENTURE
Wild Pines Park is one of the largest ropes courses in the UK. It offers over 55 elements, 10 zip wires and has been nominated as the best tree top and zip line adventure park in the whole of the UK. They have also added more this year, along with four treasure hunts and an amazing bear hunt with life-sized bears made of whole trees! Perfect for the little ones.

Set in beautiful woodland just outside Market Rasen, the park also offers archery, den building, team games, large woodland rooms for hire and free tea and coffee.

The ropes course experience begins with a safety brief, an introduction to their unique single life safety system (safest system possible – category ‘E’) whereby you cannot be detached from the safety line. The guides will demonstrate how to use your personal zip line trolleys before you head out onto the practice course set in the trees. And then you are away, on a unique adventure, over 600m long, through the 8-acre woodland.

Prices start at £20 for the ropes courses for between 90 minutes and 3 hours in the trees.

Opening times: Thursday & Friday (pre-booked online) 10am-4pm, Saturday and Sunday 10am-4pm and open every day during school holidays. Monday to Wednesday available for large groups of 12 or more (pre-booked).

JAGUAR I-PACE IS UK CAR OF THE YEAR
The Jaguar I-PACE all-electric SUV has been named UK Car of the Year ahead of a number of highly competitive models from the likes of Rolls-Royce, Bentley and Volvo.

For more information and a test drive contact: Duckworth Land Rover, Market Rasen, Racecourse Garage, Willingham Road, Market Rasen, Lincolnshire LN8 3RE.
Tel: 01673 842101, www.duckworth.co.uk

MARKET RASEN RACECOURSE
One of the things that Market Rasen is renowned for is its racecourse, which continues to spread the town’s name far and wide, not only through its popular race meetings but also its special events.

This year musical acts Madness and Craig David will be attracting the crowds in their thousands to the Jockey Club Live shows, which feature a six-race card meeting followed by the headline artists.

Combing the genres of ska, reggae, Motown, rock ‘n’ roll and classic pop, Madness have become one of the music industry’s best loved British bands. Fronted by the charismatic Suggs, the band, who will be appearing on 7th June, have many memorable hits to their name including ‘Baggy Trousers’, ‘Our House’, ‘It Must Be Love’, ‘Driving in My Car’ and the ‘House of Fun’.

Then on 17th August Grammy and Brit nominated award-winner and multi-platinum selling artist Craig David will thrill the crowd.

Having sold more than 15 million albums, achieving 16 top 10 hits and multi-platinum status in more than 20 countries, taking over festival stages around the world, selling out headline tours in seconds, and securing a residency at the iconic Ibiza Rocks Hotel, Craig David is back in a big way.

The racecourse’s MansionBet Family Extravaganza on Sunday 19th May is also a special event as it is to be themed around the 1940s.

The day will remember the part that Lincolnshire played in the Second World War, including the county’s setting as the ‘Home of the RAF’, the work of the Home Guard and the importance of agriculture and ‘Digging for Victory’ during the conflict.

As well as the jump racing, visitors will be able to look over vintage vehicles, browse the trade stands, watch re-enactment displays, take part in best-dressed competitions and listen to live music.

Even the food menus will have a wartime theme, while there will be bunting, colour and street jive dancing to represent the VE Day celebrations which took place on 8th May 1945 as fighting in Europe finally came to an end.

The racecourse is working with Age UK, the racecourse’s charity of the year from June 2019, and Lincolnshire museums and trusts to deliver the 1940s day for the enjoyment of the public.

General manager of Market Rasen Racecourse, Nadia Powell, said: “We are delighted to be working with our partners, including our sponsor MansionBet and our new official racecourse charity Age UK, to bring a family day of racing while remembering the 1940s.

“It was one of the most dramatic decades in history, with the terrible devastation of the Second World War as well as the subsequent new hope for future generations after the end of the conflict and a fresh beginning with, for example, the creation of the National Health Service.

“The county of Lincolnshire played a significant part in the wartime effort and we wish to remember the huge contribution and sacrifices that were made.”

Old Police Station
Market Rasen’s Old Police Station is being redeveloped to become a heritage and tourism information hub for the town.

It is part of the town council’s three-year strategy which also includes showcasing the Grade II listed Magistrates’ Court and Police Station as a visitor attraction and town heritage centre.

The police station was built between 1848-49 in response to a petition to the Lord Chancellor showing the need for places to lock up the growing number of vagrants and was used as a Magistrates Court and police station.

It continued to be used right up to 2005 when the police moved to their new premises.

The building was purchased by the Town Council in 2005 with a grant from the Regional Development Fund and has been refurbished to comply with its Grade II listed building status.

A long-term tenant was secured for the southern section of the building whilst the centre section was developed for the council offices. The magistrates’ court closed in 1998. This marked the end of local justice for local people.

The Old Police Station is believed to be only one of three complete Georgian courtrooms left in England.

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