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Review: Brigg


Brigg, Lincolnshire, United Kingdom

A typical small market town

  • By SilverTraveller ESW

    2513 reviews

    Ribbon Ribbon Ribbon Ribbon Ribbon

  • 2013
  • Solo

154 people found this review helpful

Knowing that husband was out for the day, daughter invited me to lunch in the Courtyard Cafe in the Angel in Brigg. I bounced across on the bus in plenty of time to have a look round before meeting up.

Brigg is a small market town in Lincolnshire and, like so many others throughout the country, there is nothing really special about it. It grew up at an important crossing point of the River Ancholme surrounded by fertile farmland. There are in fact two river Ancholmes now. In 1635, Sir John Monson drained the valley with a new straight cut creating the two rivers seen today, called hardly surprisingly the new and old rivers. This meant that larger vessels could now sail up the river nearly as far as Market Raisen. In the 1840, as many as 1000 boats left Brigg each year loaded with corn and coal. In 1843 a daily service was introduced to Hull by a steam screw powered fly boat. Now the only use is by pleasure boats which can be seen moored along the banks. The old river is lined with waterside plants and is popular with anglers.

The cattle market is now a Tesco. The industry has gone as Springs marmalade factory and the sugar beet plant have closed. Falcons cycles are still here as well as many council offices.

In spite of the arrival of Tesco and Lidl, Brigg has managed to keep traditional bakers and a couple of butchers. As well as the usual charity shops and chain stores there is a range of local specialist shops which pull in shoppers from the surrounding area. Brian’s DIY is an Aladdin’s cave of things you won’t find anywhere else. P&J Kitchens has a good range of cookware including kitchen knives at eye watering prices. For the children there is an old fashioned sweet shop with jars full of goodies arranged along the shelves. Throw in a carpet shop, bed shop, traditional men’s country clothing and ladies fashions, there is plenty of choice.

Three roads converge on the triangular market place. Wrawby Street is the main shopping street and is pedestrianised. On a Thursday the market was in full swing with fruit and veg, home made bread and cakes, flowers, eggs, sweets, the usual clothes stalls and also straw hats. There is even a Greek olive and feta cheese stall. On the fourth Saturday of the month there is a thriving Farmers Market as well.

At the head of the Market Place is the Buttercross, an elegant pale yellow brick building with a small clock tower. This was built in 1817 as the Town Hall with an open stone paved area at the bottom used as a market for butter, eggs and poultry. It is now a very good Tourist Information Office with a lot of local, regional and national information. Tall buildings line the market place, now with shops on the ground floor. Most date from 18/19thC and were built using bricks from new yards along the River Alcholme. The importance of Brigg as an agricultural market town is reflected in the size and grandeur of the two banks, now Nat West and HSBC.

On the south side of the Market Place is the Angel Hotel. This was a 16thC coaching in with a central archway leading to the courtyard with buildings round it. It was given its mock Tudor timber frame exterior around 1989 when the angel above the doorway was probably added. It shut as a hotel in 1989 and lay derelict for some years before being bought by North Lincolnshire council and completely renovated to provide council office accommodation. Now most of the office staff have moved out and it houses the local library, excellent small Heritage Centre and the Cafe Courtyard . This has only been open six months and is already a popular meeting place.

Behind Wrawby street to the north is the area known as the courts. This was originally built to house the poorest labourers in two up and two down cottages. There was no running water, little sanitation and a communal drain. They were overcrowded and unsanitary. Most were demolished when a new car park was built but parts of some still survive like Chapel Court. This still has two of the original cottages now looking attractive with their cottage gardens. Some of the properties are small specialist shops.

The Church of St John the Evangelist is a typical mid 19thC Victorian Gothic building with a square tower. On a Thursday there is a 9am communion Service. Local women clean and polish the church and it provides tea or coffee with a biscuit for 50p; or £1 if you want a cake.

There is nothing special about Brigg. It is a small town going about it’s business. On a Thursday it was busier than usual with the market. The church was nice and the Heritage Centre, with the remains of the Brigg Raft, covers local history from the stone age to medieval times. The Courtyard cafe is a popular place for a light lunch. All in all a pleasant morning.

I bounced back on the bus to Scunthorpe with a load of geriatric locals. The bus driver forgot to turn off to do a detour around Broughton much to the delight of the regulars on the bus and there was a fair bit of leg pulling, including the comment “Dost thou want a compass…”

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