The new Courthouse cultural experience and coffee bar in Skegness.

Culture and coffee at Courthouse tearooms experience in Skegness

A former courthouse in Skegness is becoming a cultural hub  where people can celebrate the resort's heritage over a cup of coffee.

Tuesday, 27th July 2021, 5:41 pm
Updated Tuesday, 27th July 2021, 5:44 pm

Betty's by the Sea tearooms at the new Courthouse experience offers a unique heritage experience and opened just a few days ago serving afternoon teas, drinks and snacks.

It is the first phase of a project which will also see a gallery, a place to sit and reflect and the chance to tour the old police station and cells.

Situated at the former Minerva Court on the corner of Roman Bank and Ida Road, the building was originally built in 1883.

Originally named after Minerva - the goddess of wisdom, strategic warfare, and the sponsor of the arts, trade and strategy - the changes to the building from courthouse, police station and registration office to tearooms and heritage experience are not so surprising when you meet the man behind it.

Local entrepreneur Gary Bangham, who worked on the original plans for Fantasy Island amongst many other projects along the coast, bought the building in 2017.

"I intended to turn it into flats but I was approached by people who needed office space," he said.

"My head is continually full of ideas and renovating the rest of the building has been a labour of love to celebrate the building's heritage.

"As well as the tearooms and bar, where events will be held, customers can tour the old police station and cells.

"The Courthouse will also incorporate Gallery 29, named after the date that part of the building was built.

"We want to create a hub for talented and creative people - a place for people to come and work and play.

"I am really pleased with what it is becoming - there is nothing else like it here."

Eventually it is hoped the venue will be marketed together with other historic and cultural venues along the coast, including the Village Church Farm Museum, Bateman's and Gibraltar Point.

"Part of our wider plan is to show that there is culture along the coast and we want to attract more talented and creative people here," he said.

"In the past there has been a brain drain along the coast but, as part of Team Lincolnshire, we want to promote a powerful, independent partnership of ambitious, forward-thinking private and public sector organisations, united by the common goal of creating a stronger local economy."

Joining the team in the first phase of the Courthouse to provide afternoon teas in the Betty's By The Sea tearooms - named after the mum of a well-known local DJ - is a new business in Skegness Scones and Roses, which was set up during lockdown delivering to homes.

Two of the first customers giving them a thumbs-up was Lynda Everett and Jeanette Blythe.

"The teas are excellent and I really think this is going to be a fun place," said Lynda.

"I've heard about the plans for it and have already said I'd like to volunteer as a tour guide."

Stephanie Morrison of Skegness was there with her two sons, Jax and Nate, who were enjoying a themed Willy Wonka tea.

"The weather wasn't so good so we thought we would try it," said Stephanie. "It's been very good but I think we will be taking some of it home - there is so much."

Dennis and Lucyna Webb also gave the new venue the thumbs up. "It's different," said Dennis. "I like quirky places."

Pete Tomlinson who was there with his wife Diane, said he could remember when the building was a registration office.

"I think it's a tremendous idea," he said. "Credit to them."

HISTORY OF MINERVA COURT

Minerva Court was built in 1883 to keep up with the ever-rising population and visitors travelling to the coast by railway and became the police station for Skegness and the surrounding areas.

It became the home to Inspector Watkin, who was originally based in Wainfleet and the police station comprised of three detention cells, stables and a carriage house.

In 1908, Skegness was allocated a petty sessional court, which ran during the summer seasons. A new courthouse was built 1929 to keep up with the demand

Over the next couple of decades, the population sored of the area soared to over 8 times the amount at the beginning of the century. By 1931, Skegness police station became the divisional police headquarters for the Spilsby, Alford and Mablethorpe area.

It was decided that Skegness needed a larger police station and in 1974 it was relocated to Park Avenue, which is where the police station currently remains.

Eventually registration office outgrew the premises, and relocated in 2012. The building remained unused for several years until it was redeveloped into offices, workspaces and units for local businesses and organisations.

ABOUT MINERVA, GODDESS OF WISDOM, CREATIVITY AND COMMERCE

Minerva was a Roman goddess, associated with the Greek goddess of Athena. Born after Jupiter swallowed her mother, Metis, Minerva became the goddess of wisdom, strategic warfare, and the sponsor of the arts, trade and strategy.

Her sacred animal, the owl, symbolises her association with wisdom and knowledge.

To honour the name of Roman Bank, and the creativity of the businesses, the old registration office became known as Minvera Court. Minerva’s Owl can be seen on the main entrance of the building, welcoming visitors.

by creating a cultural hub and historic experience.

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