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Words: Glynis Fox/Melanie Burton
Photography: Mick Fox
Featured in the October 2016 issue

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Sitting on the edge of the Lincolnshire Wolds, this popular market town is home to a really interesting mix of businesses – you just need to take time out to explore it.

But, if you love antiques, quirky pubs, teashops and the personal service that you get with family-run enterprises, it’s certainly worth more than a passing glance.

On the outskirts of the town there are also major employers, including those whose products are in demand in world markets.

Long-established names in the town centre itself include Myers’ bakery and associated businesses, the butcher R S Wisby, Heather’s fruit and vegetable shop and Achurch & Sons, which offers everything from hardware to electrical goods and stylish cookware. All provide an alternative to supermarket shopping.

Land and property agent Robert Bell & Company has been based in the town since the 1800s, and agricultural and horticultural business J T Friskney has traded for more than a century, having been established in 1909.

Naturally changing times are having an impact on the shopping scene, but well-established businesses have not only stood the test of time, many have diversified in order to meet the needs of today’s increasingly demanding customers.

Robert Bell said the changes have brought new challenges, but efforts are being made to safeguard and increase the town’s footfall.

“The internet is a severe challenge for many face-to-face high street businesses. As a consequence, shops on the high street are under pressure and businesses which were once thriving, have no sale value,” he said.

“Many of the High Street shops and businesses are up for sale at very competitive prices. Hopefully, a more benevolent attitude from East Lindsey District Council over parking charges will help to reduce the decline.”

But the town’s Boston Road Industrial Estate continues to be a place to find both new and growing businesses, including those keen to expand.

“These are now the focus for employment for a rapidly growing town. Swathes of land are the focus of planning applications that will put pressure on the schools, doctors, drainage, cemetery and other infrastructure,” said Robert.

The property market registered a dip during June, due to the Brexit vote, but he said the number of prospective buyers has bounced back, despite August traditionally being a holiday month.

“There is a general shortage of property coming onto the market and this has helped to keep property prices buoyant.

“Greater regulation faces landlords of let properties and this is reflected in ever-increasing rents. The regulations and extra stamp duty are likely to be features in the market going forward.”

But Mr Bell said a recent small change – to reinstate free parking in Horncastle’s Cattle Market Car Park – should help to encourage people to park up and spend time in the town.

However, the issue of traffic congestion on the main roads approaching the town, and the need for a bypass, is never far from people’s thoughts.

“It has been noticeable, particularly in recent months, that the traffic tailbacks along both the A153 and A158 have been significant, which is not conducive to visitors being encouraged to stop off and visit the town,” said Robert.

Horncastle has a proud reputation as the antiques capital of Lincolnshire and this is a feature that members of the business community are keen to try and capitalise on.

“There have been background discussions with the town’s businesses on ways to try and promote the Market Place and town centre, by making it more pedestrian-friendly and holding festivals and creating a more ‘continental cafe’ feel to the town,” he said.

The town also has a newly-formed business group, which aims to showcase Horncastle as a ‘great day out for everyone’.

The inaugural meeting of the Horncastle Business Group attracted twenty people. Chaired by Lucy Roberts, it aims to help co-ordinate events in the town and has already printed 5,000 leaflets to promote Horncastle. It is also working on a town map.

Horncastle is the home of the famous Lincolnshire plum loaf, which is handmade by the Myers family at its craft bakery in the Bull Ring. The bakery has been based in the town since 1970 and now features a café tearoom on one side and a deli and cheese shop on the other.

All three businesses have undergone a major rebranding, which has seen the redecoration of the shop exteriors and new signage to bring them all together.

The bakery has also benefited from significant internal refurbishment. New glass counters have been fitted and shelving, incorporating traditional oak together with Farrow and Ball greys, metro tiles, tongue-and-grove boarding and brass pendant lighting to give a sophisticated and modern look.

To coincide with this rebranding, a reward card scheme has been introduced across all thee shops. The Myers Reward card allows customers to save points with every purchase made in the bakery, deli and café tearoom.

These points can then be redeemed in any shop at any time and Reward cardholders will receive regular mail shots and exclusive offers.

Within the bakery itself, Myers’ small team of craft bakers still enjoy creating new and exciting lines to add to the business’ already well-established range of breads, savouries.

More recently they had been able to offer celebration cakes, tailored to customers’ individual requirements. These have proved very popular for birthdays and anniversaries.

Businesses based on Horncastle’s Boston Road Industrial Estate include Balcan, which is a multi-faceted business, which offers lamp recycling products sold around the world, bottle and vial crushers and emergency rescue throwing lines.

Another is Firestop Services, a family business which provides fire risk assessments, consultancy, the installation and maintenance of fire extinguishers and fire alarms. Its expertise sees it provide advice and services to everyone from hotel groups to a business which may be renovating a historic building.

Of course great communication is an absolute essential for any business determined to succeed in today’s fast-paced business environment. Another Horncastle business which provides services on this front is Genius WiFi. Its customers include those in the leisure, tourism and hospitality sectors.

One of the ways it helps other businesses is by providing legally secure and compliant public/guest wifi access, in their own branding, with the ability to send marketing messages to their customer whilst they are both on site and away from their business.

SOMETHING TRULY VINTAGE
We are a family run business who have been offering our array of Amber jewellery and vintage goods for over ten years. We are true ‘Vintage Heads’ scouring the country and hand-picking items that are unusual and pre-loved.

Our items date between the 1920s and 1970s; and we work with designers on our collection of Amber jewellery. We are proud to say that all our mechanical goods are in full working order. We carry a range of locally made jams and chutneys and will soon add local honey.

We started our business in Hertfordshire but relocated to Horncastle in 2016 to a larger premises and to be in the ‘vintage heartland’ that we have come to love over many years of visiting. We believe that shopping should be an experience, not just a transaction!

We attend many 1940s and vintage events offering our datelined items – check our website for details.

We love what we find and the history each item holds, and like being responsible for that item surviving another fifty or even 100 years.

Why not visit us soon to share our passion for Something Truly Vintage?

What we offer: Gramophones, telephones, Amber jewellery, furniture, vintage posters, upcycled originals, jams and chutneys, record players, film posters, vintage chairs, vintage books, musical instruments, clocks, lighting, pewter tableware and much more.

Opening Hours: Thu, Fri, Sat 10am to 4pm. 2 North Street, Horncastle LN9 5DX.

MOREISH MYERS
Another area of Myers’ business which is enjoying growth is its catering service. Buffets are being supplied to a range of local businesses and individuals for both commercial and private functions.

Director Robert Myers said: “The emphasis here is on delicious fine quality produce that is all freshly prepared on our premises.

“Our café tearoom also runs on much the same premise and it is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. Our bakery supplies much of the produce seen on the menu, together with other local suppliers’ products.”

The café has recently been awarded a Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence 2016 and has just been nominated in the Taste of Excellence Awards for Tearoom and Coffee Shop of the Year,” said Robert.

“The deli continues to be a ‘go to’ place for cheese lovers, with a counter brimming with over 60 fine quality cheeses. Staff are also keen to promote the current trend for cheese wedding cakes.

“This sees a variety of cheese put together to create a fabulous tiered effect. All budgets are catered for and a free taster session is also offered, to allow couples to come in and try the different cheeses to find their favourites.”

THE BANOVALLUM SCHOOL
The Banovallum School has been serving the local community for over fifty years and considerable investment has gone into the site in the last three years to create an inspiring, professional learning environment. We are committed to offering an inclusive entry policy to local young people.

Over a quarter of our students left Banovallum with ten GCSEs at grade C and above last year with many achieving all A and B grades and we strive to ensure that the conditions in school are created to allow the students to become the best they can be, not only in academic terms but in sport, creative and performing arts and citizenship as well. We acknowledge high academic achievement and work ethic. Banovallum places a great deal of emphasis on student leadership and our students are rightly proud of their school.

The school is led on the principles of hard work and a personalised approach. As a smaller secondary, we know our students as individuals and celebrate them as such. There is no contradiction between good order and discipline and a belief that being at school should be full of laughter and joy!

THE OLD STABLES
The Old Stables is an award-wining coffee shop and bistro located just off the market square, under the arch of The Farmers’ Club. Established for more than five years, The Old Stables continues to offer high quality coffee as well as a broad range of breakfasts, brunch, lunch and afternoon tea selections. The Old Stables High Tea is a bestseller and can be elevated by a glass of bubbly for a really special occasion. We are licensed to sell wine, beer and cider.

The team at The Stables is dedicated to serving you good value, fresh, locally sourced produce. We look forward to your visit.

Market Place, Horncastle Tel: 01507 523253.

EATING OUT
If you enjoy eating out, Horncastle has everything from quaint tea rooms, to traditional pubs, restaurants and hotels.

Many eateries are based in what were at one time coaching inns, adding to the ambience of your experience and, of course, many feature Lincolnshire’s fantastic homegrown produce on the menu too.

There’s plenty of places to choose from out of an amazing selection which includes Shakesby’s, which serves traditional British cuisine with a modern twist; Magpies Restaurant with Rooms – if you love intimate dining; and the Admiral Rodney Hotel, a Grade II-listed coaching inn with an on-site restaurant.

If you are looking for a blend of traditional real ales, live music and pub games, Old Nick’s Tavern might suit. Built in 1752 as a coaching house, it was originally known as The New Inn.

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