Now, an innovative project to preserve that historic character is being championed by a team of local people and specialists – and they are looking for our readers’ help.
A steering group made up of local businesses, councils and conservationists is exploring options for a heritage grant scheme and, while the work is still in the early stages, the group is supporting the idea of having its very own Townscape Heritage project.
As previously reported, the project will build on from the work of MR BIG – the Mary Portas backed initiative.
Specialist conservation input to design the heritage regeneration scheme is being funded by West Lindsey District Council, while a further £200,000 has been allocated to support the delivery of a Heritage Buildings Grant scheme.
Steering group member, Jenny Salvidge, owner of The Green Life Pantry on Queen Street in the town, said the project is a ‘fantastic opportunity to revive and rejuvenate the high street’.
She said: “We need some real street appeal to draw people back into Market Rasen.
“Improving the look and usability of the high street and market place can have a huge positive impact on our community and people’s opinion of the place.
“It will help to attract new businesses and tourists to the area. Many businesses have traded here for years and they need our full support especially after this very difficult last year.”
Jenny added: “I am very excited about this project. It has my full support and I look forward to seeing the positive changes and improvements along the high street.”
Rhona Sheppard, a long term resident of the town, has also joined the steering group.
She has an interest in local history and geography and is also part of the Community Partnership Group and New Life Church leadership team.
She said: “The project is an important part of moving forward together to enhance the heritage of the town and build on work accomplished by other groups in the community who have been involved with this over the years.”
“As part of the project, the group is calling out to people who may have historic photographs of shop fronts in the town centre to come forward and share them.”
Group member Ian George, historic places manager at Lincolnshire County Council described the project as ‘innovative’ and one that should be picked up across the county as good practice.
He continued: “I hope it will help to preserve the historic character of the beautiful town centre.
“The county council is currently working with Historic England to characterise the historic environment of the towns of Lincolnshire.
“We are excited to see this work bear fruit in influencing decision making in a historic town like Market Rasen.”
Further details of the project will be revealed as they are finalised.
The town’s Deputy Mayor and chairman of the community partnership group, Stephen Bunney, is enthusiastic about the project.
He said: “Whilst the funds in this project will not carry out all the work required to bring Market Rasen’s historic buildings to their former glory, it will give valuable information on the scope and breadth of the work required.
“Redevelopment/regeneration programmes are inevitably long term projects which at times appear to be move very slowly. The former HSBC bank is a good example.
“For years it appeared no progress was being made and the building deteriorated to be an awful eyesore and embarrassment to the town, but now, suddenly, the project is on target for completion by the autumn – something which looked impossible last year.
“I see WLDCs involvement in the Historic Buildings Grant as one of these steps - and fervently believe that in six months’ time when we look back we will see real progress having been made on this important project.
• Email any historic shop front pictures to [email protected]