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Words: Melanie Burton
Photography: Mick Fox
Featured in the December 2018 issue

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Newark-on-Trent is a historic thriving market town, offering a unique retail experience and a number of crowd-pulling heritage sites, attractions and activities, writes Melanie Burton.

But it is its location on the A46 just off the A1 and at the end of the A17, halfway between Lincoln and Nottingham, and Lincoln and Leicester, that makes it such a popular place for businesses large and small.

Excellent connectivity, good links to major rail and road networks and easy access to airports and east coast ports coupled with superfast broadband make it a vibrant business centre and a great place to do business.

According to statistics drawn up last year by Invest Newark & Sherwood, the local manufacturing amounts to 13 per cent of employment – the national average is 8.3 per cent – while tourism related employment is 13.6 per cent, compared to the national average of 9.6 per cent.

Newark, and its near neighbour Southwell, are also included in a partnership of destinations from Hertfordshire to Northumberland, which earlier in the year secured a £1m investment from the Discover England Fund to encourage more German visitors to explore Eastern England.

The money is being spent on creating a new 300-mile touring route between London and Northumberland that combines well-known visitor destinations with those that are off the beaten track.

New itineraries are being developed that bring together attractions, accommodation options, places to eat and activities to create a route that is culturally rich and quintessentially English.

Councillor David Lloyd, chairman of Newark and Sherwood District Council’s Economic Development Committee, said: “Our area has so much for international visitors and this project helps us to attract more people to visit and enjoy what we have to offer.

“We welcomed the opportunity to work in partnership with colleagues and make it easier for people to plan and book a trip to Eastern England. Our district has so much to offer the international visitor.”

Germany has been chosen as the target market because touring is a familiar and well-loved holiday choice for Germans and because there is good travel connectivity with Eastern England.

The East of England Touring Route is one of a number of successful projects to receive funding from the UK Government’s £40 million Discover England Fund.

Newark is a market town that boasts one of the finest Georgian market squares in the UK. It is a town steeped in history with a dramatic castle and two museums.

As well as the markets in Newark, shoppers can also head to the Buttermarket for indoor shopping. There are also plenty of antique and vintage shops dotted around the town which are perfect if you enjoy looking for treasures.

For aviation enthusiasts, Newark Air Museum is a must-see attraction. As well as having a wide range of aeroplanes to see (including a Vulcan, Buccaneer and Hawker), the museum hosts a wide range of events including open cockpit events.

Sitting in the grounds of a former farmhouse, you’ll also find the National Holocaust Centre and Museum, which is used as an educational facility and remembrance centre.

As well as plans to improve the visitor experience for international tourists, there is also a masterplan to make the town a better place to live, work and relax which all helps to attract new businesses to the area acting as a further incentive to them to select Newark
as a base.

In March 2017, the council was selected by Government to benefit from significant investment to kick-start the regeneration scheme in Newark’s Bridge ward.

Funding was awarded through the national Estate Regeneration Fund to undertake detailed appraisals and technical studies of the Yorke Drive estate and Lincoln Road Playing Fields to identify the best approach for sustainable regeneration and housing growth, with engagement with the local community a key ingredient in taking matters forward.

The project will primarily be funded through cross subsidy from homes for sale. Additional funding will be required because of low housing sales values in the area and Government funding is being sought to help bridge the funding gap.

Newark and Sherwood District Council is also undertaking a number of feasibility studies for possible regeneration opportunities, including a collaboration with Newark Town Council on The Buttermarket shopping centre.

The Buttermarket last year underwent a £600,000 external restoration programme with the assistance of Historic England.

But a number of the units stand empty and former tenants have cited the high rents and fluctuating service charges as the reason for them leaving the centre.

Built in 1774, The Buttermarket was a covered market hall from 1884 to 1988, when it was converted into an indoor shopping centre over two floors that opened in May 1990.

The part of The Buttermarket from the Market Place to the columns inside is owned by the town council and the covered market area behind is owned by the district council.

Many of the shops face onto the historic market place which has regular open-air markets and a large number are long established businesses that have been part of the streetscene for decades.

One such retailer is Jane Young which has been established in the town since 1955 and trades from two shops across both sides of Chain Lane. A family run business now in its third generation Jane Young sells high-class and designer fashions, occasion wear and bridal outfits.

It has become an institution throughout the East Midlands and attracts a wide range of clientele from all over the country including fashionistas from London and beyond helping to put Newark on the shopping destination map.

Designer brands include Armani, Tommy Hilfiger and Betty Barclay and its experienced and highly-trained staff offer a bespoke tailoring service ensuring your outfit is perfect before you leave the shop.

Ann et Vin is another Newark business whose reputation is known far and wide. The fine wine retailer has been established in Castle Gate for fourteen years but has built up an extensive customer base.

It also houses its own Courtyard Wine Bar where you can relax and try any one of the 500 wines or champagnes which are on sale in the wine shop. You can also enjoy a light meal made from local ingredients.

Another long-established independent trader is Andrew Michael’s Jewellers, the largest independent reseller of Breitling and luxury watches in the UK, which has served the town and surrounding area for more than thirty-five years.

The business has provided excellent and reliable customer service and has ensured a steady expansion to nationwide jewellery supply with a team of experts on site in order to deal with all requests.

THE AREA’S RICHEST VARIETY OF ANTIQUES UNDER ONE ROOF
One of the largest and busiest antiques centres in the region is Newark Antiques Centre located in Regent House on Lombard Street. The building dates from 1823 and is a former chapel and schoolroom steeped in history itself which was converted in 1988 to house the 56 dealers and 80 cabinets who trade in the Centre.

The rich variety of antiques and collectables make Newark Antiques Centre a magnet and well-respected source for dealers and the public alike. Many of the Centre’s dealers are experts in their field and visitors will find everything from period furniture to porcelain and ceramics; from silver plate and glassware to painting and militaria. Interior designers will find lighting, soft furnishings, pine and French Painted Furniture as well as ironmongery. The Centre is frequently visited by international collectors who appreciate the quality and choice of the antiques on offer. Finding a special item such as a secondhand book or a special piece of gold or silver jewellery makes a thoughtful and unique Christmas gift. There is bound to be something to inspire your giving or collecting.

While you take your time to browse, the in-house Tea Room is ideal for relaxing while enjoying homemade cake or a light meal served with a hot or cold beverage. Newark Antiques Centre is open Monday to Saturday 9.30am to 5pm, Sunday and Bank Holidays 11am to 4pm.

For further information tel: 01636 605504 or visit: www.newarkantiquescentre.com

NEWARK BUSINESS CLUB
The business sector in the Newark area is well-supported, not only by the local authority’s business and growth team but also its own Business Club, which is the most vibrant in the East Midlands.

Established back in 2001, it works hard to ensure that businesses can flourish within the town, investment is forthcoming and the right infrastructure is in place to cope with future growth.

Newark has very low unemployment rates and one of the things the Business Club aims to do is ensure the provision of training for the workforce of the future.

One of the unique features of the club is its Action Group which campaigns for a better business environment.

Since its formation the Action Group has taken a lead and successfully lobbied with partners and stakeholders for many things including improvements for Newark on the East Coast rail line and the Castle Line, superfast broadband for businesses in rural areas, improvements to the market place and its attractiveness and improved traffic flow to and through the town.

Newark & Sherwood District Council is also committed to supporting existing businesses and attracting new ones to the town and has a number of initiatives geared to that.

D2N2 Growth Hub in partnership with Newark and Sherwood District Council is organising a free business health check session on 5th March, 2019 – Newark and Sherwood District Council, Castle House, Great North Road, Newark NG24 1BY.

In these one-to-one 90-minute sessions, businesses will get the opportunity to ask questions, get practical tips and obtain incisive information from a D2N2 Growth Business Advisor who will offer valuable advice and insights to help the businesses flourish.

NEW YEAR, NEW LOOK FOR THE CEDRIC FORD!
Newark Showground’s busiest venue has been modernised ready for the year ahead.

The Cedric Ford already hosts a diverse range of events each week and has been refreshed in time to welcome the upcoming events in 2019.

The clear, flexible 675sqm space has a large entrance foyer, two long bars and can be divided into separate sections, creating breakout, exhibition or networking areas. The venue can host up to 450 guests for dinner dances and 700 theatre-style for conferences. The President’s Suite upstairs seats a further 85, perfect for small or larger events.

Tastes, the in-house catering team, prepares delicious and fresh meals from the kitchen in the Cedric Ford itself, so serving guests is easy.

The Cedric Ford is ideal for conferences, dinner dances, exhibitions, awards nights and parties. For more information, please contact the Sales team on: 01636 705796 or email events@newarkshowground.com

FEED THE BIRDS THE BEST FROM HALL FARM
Winter is here and one of the best ways to support birds and wildlife in your garden is to give them quality feed from Hall Farm Wild Bird Food at Weston, Newark.

This family business is third generation run with all of their feed grown on site. As the UK’s leading bird seed supplier, the knowledgeable and friendly staff at Hall’s are on hand with expert advice and feeding guides for customers.

Halls are stocked with a great range of bird seed, feeders, nest boxes and garden accessories to help you get even more pleasure from the wildlife in your garden all year round and you can be assured that you are feeding the best and most appropriate foods to help them over the winter months.

For more information contact: Hall Farm Wild Bird Food, The Grain Store, Wadnall Lane, Weston, Newark NG23 6SY, tel: 01636 821232 or visit www.buybirdseed.co.uk. Open: Mon-Fri 7.30am-5pm, Saturday 8am-3pm.

WONDERLAND IS COMING TO THE WINDOWS OF NEWARK THIS CHRISTMAS
The best independent retailers that Newark has to offer have been hard at work creating shop windows full of festive spirit, as part of local organisation Totally Locally’s Newark Wonderland campaign.

The public have the deciding vote on which retailer wins the Newark Wonderland trophy via Totally Locally Newark’s social media channels.

Once Newark’s best small businesses have perfected their winter windows, they’ll be submitting photos for a public vote opening on 1st December 2018. One lucky voter will be chosen at random to win a £200 Totally Locally Newark voucher that can be spent at participating shops in Newark.

There will be free car parking in Newark every Sunday in December until Christmas Day. For further information on Totally Locally Newark visit http://www.totally-locally-newark.co.uk/ Discover the wide range of festive events taking place in Newark at https://www.newark-sherwooddc.gov.uk/christmas/newarkchristmasevents/

NATIONAL CIVIL WAR CENTRE
Newark is famed for its role in the English Civil War and two of the town’s main historic attractions, the National Civil War Centre and Newark Castle, are dedicated to that.

In 2015, the National Civil War Centre opened as the UK’s only museum dedicated to telling the story of the brutal conflict,  providing a massive boost to tourism in the area.

2018 has been somewhat of a celebratory year for the National Civil War Centre too.

In March 2018, it unveiled a huge haul of fearsome and exquisite armour from the 17th century British civil wars – the deadliest in the nation’s history – which was being displayed for the first time.

It means that the £5.4m Newark centre now probably has the largest collection of such material outside the Royal Armouries in Leeds and London.

Rapier swords, helmet struck by a sword blade, iron breastplates with musket ball dents and siege helmets to protect wearers from shrapnel are amongst the exhibits on show.  Most have never been seen in public before.

It has also been celebrating since achieving full accreditation as a nationally-styled museum from Arts Council England.

Business manager for Heritage, Culture & Visitors, Carys Coulton-Jones, said: “For the National Civil War Centre to achieve full accreditation on its first assessment is a real accolade for the entire team, particularly for our collections and exhibitions staff who have demonstrated exceptional standards of practice and have risen to this challenge wholeheartedly.”

Newark Castle was a Royalist stronghold but its key position on the banks of the River Trent meant that the castle has been severely damaged over the years. But it stands now as a reminder of Newark’s turbulent history.

Today, visitors can take tours, visit exhibitions including the King John Exhibition located in the North West tower, or walk through the Victorian gardens.

Archaeologists from the University of Salford have been investigating an area in between the Gatehouse and the North West tower to help inform new plans for the transformation project and uncovered oyster shells and twelfth-century walls.

Generally perceived in the present day as a food of affluence, the discovery of oyster shells in the castle highlights a significant cultural shift from twelfth-century to twenty-first-century lifestyles.

Centuries ago, oysters were accessible to everyone and generally symbolic of the diet of those among the poorer sections of society.

Furthermore, the discovery of the shells in a central location such as Newark also makes assumptions about the trade routes that may have been in place in twelfth century Britain. 

Kevin Winter, exhibitions and collections assistant at the National Civil War Centre, said: “The oysters must have been reasonably fresh and will have been transported from the coast, from places like Boston and even Lincoln, which was accessible from the sea – most likely by river – to Newark.

“As well as giving us a fairly clear idea of what the diet will have been at the time, in a religious context, there were traditionally many holy days in which meat could not be consumed and therefore, fish was eaten instead.”

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