Lancashire’s Comeback Kid
There are few places in Lancashire garnering quite so many positive headlines right now as Kirkham
The historic Fylde market town – which can trace its roots back to before its days as a Roman garrison – is creating a real buzz thanks to a £10m council-led regeneration scheme widely heralded as a ‘once in a generation’ opportunity. The ambitious four-year masterplan is funded through various revenue streams secured by Fylde Borough Council’s regeneration team who have pulled off something of a major coup.
As other towns looked on enviously, Kirkham won £6.3m from the Government’s Future High Street Fund and £3.6m via Historic England’s High Streets Heritage Action Zone programme. It was not that long ago that Kirkham’s last high street bank closed, and many shops followed suit. Today, walking along Poulton Street – the town’s main shopping thoroughfare – there is a tangible sense that times are changing for the better.
“There is a real buzz about Kirkham right now,” said Heidi Hopkinson, co-owner of Serendipity House gift shop on Poulton Street and Chair of Kirkham Business Group. “New businesses have opened on the high street, and there are many more to come.”
Bold improvements will be made to the high street, the town’s historic Market Square and wider public realm changes are out to public consultation, while opportunities are being created to not only help existing businesses but encourage new ones too.
Fylde Council, the Town Council and Business Group together with Lancashire Artisan Traders have been instrumental in helping launch a new monthly Artisan Market every second Saturday of the month showcasing the best of Lancashire produce and products.
Two new town centre restaurants – Bull Horns Smokehouse and The Old Bank (situated in Kirkham’s former HSBC bank) have opened, while a number of other businesses have taken over vacant shop units.
Andrew Booker, who set-up The Old Bank with son James, said: “It’s very exciting times for Kirkham it’s a great time to invest here. It’s important that we create a culture where people are choosing not to go out of town to eat and actually stop in their hometown. I really think that it is changing for the better.”
Elaine Silverwood has seen the ups and downs of Kirkham over the last 20 years. As owner of Poulton Street’s Book, Bean and Ice Cream, she has attracted the likes of Sir Michael Caine and Olympic golden girl Jessica Ennis to hold book signings in the town.
A local councillor, and this year’s Mayor of Fylde, Elaine wants the investment to have a long-lasting impact. She said: “Kirkham folk are rightly very passionate about their town and this investment is so timely. It’s vital we not only create excitement and interest today but that we reinvigorate the high street and town centre for the long-term good. That is what Kirkham so richly deserves.”
There is plenty afoot at Kirkham, new shops, new market, new places to drink and dine, new historic trails – time to look at Kirkham in a new light we think?
For more information about Kirkham’s masterplan and associated projects go to: kirkhamfutures.org