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What's right up your street in King's Lynn?

Tower Street in King's Lynn  Picture: Chris Bishop

Tower Street in King's Lynn Picture: Chris Bishop

Archant

In the last of our three part special report on King’s Lynn, we look at some more of the positives.

The Soul Cafe in Tower Street, King's Lynn  Picture: Chris BishopThe Soul Cafe in Tower Street, King's Lynn Picture: Chris Bishop

If you think Lynn is all about empty shops, lack off independent tyraders and traffic jams, you haven’t been to Tower Street.

Shoe-horned in between the Majestic Cinema and Tower Gardens, there are eateries galore, along with arts, an eclectic antiques emporium with an unrivalled selection of stuffed animals, beauticians, independent clothes shops, a family-run electronics store, hi-tech and second-hand bling.

Peckish? How about a hotdog? Or a vindaloo with all the trimmings? Or goat curry with beans, panfried parrotfish with callaloo, a vegan beetroot burger, a platter of wings washed down with a craft beer, an artisan-baked roll or skate and chips?

There are Cuban nights, Spanish nights, singles nights, disco nights, and even a gin and handbag night at the Soul Cafe, which describes itself as British fusion with Caribbean, African, Asian and European-inspired dishes.

Olivier Vati at the Soul cafe in king's Lynn  Picture: Chris BishopOlivier Vati at the Soul cafe in king's Lynn Picture: Chris Bishop

Olivier Vati, who hails from from Guadeloupe, and Norfolk girl Helen Payne launched the joint just under two years ago.

“King’s Lynn is fine, it’s a nice town,” said Mr Vait, 45. “It’s a small town and I believe independent businesses are the way forward for King’s Lynn.”

Mr Vait said he thought the council could do more to encourage independents, rather than encourage more multiples to move into town or out of town sites.

David Cook, who helps out at the Blackfriars Antiques Centre across the road, agreed when it came to the location’s appeal.

David Cook helps at the Blackfriars Antique Centre which is owned by his son. Photo: Emily PrinceDavid Cook helps at the Blackfriars Antique Centre which is owned by his son. Photo: Emily Prince

“I think Tower Street is all independents and that’s the reason we never see any shops empty here,” he said.

“Footfall is good I mean if you look at the High Street and a lot of places in King’s Lynn, it’s dying. But all the independents here seem to be thriving.”

A staff member at a nearby independent added: “My boss has had this shop for years, people know what they are getting. I think it is possibly due to being a street of independents and little one-off shops that are here.

“Also maybe the rates are higher on other streets. There was a time when a few were empty but they filled up fast. I don’t think car parking helps as people don’t come into town when they can go to the Hardwick.”

King's Lynn Festival has been helping to put the town on the map for more than 60 years Picture: Ian BurtKing's Lynn Festival has been helping to put the town on the map for more than 60 years Picture: Ian Burt

Festival expands

King’s Lynn Festival has been putting the town on the map for more than half a century. Like Lynn itself, it is expanding to meet demand.

Artist Sue O'Brien, who is inspired by Lynn's rich heritage  Picture: Chris BishopArtist Sue O'Brien, who is inspired by Lynn's rich heritage Picture: Chris Bishop

When it was launched in 1951, to celebrate the restoration of St George’s Guildhall, the festival was a rare oasis of quality music and the arts.

But while there are now many rival attractions it remains a major draw, bringing visitors to West Norfolk to boost the area’s vital tourism industry.

For several years the festival has staged autumn, winter and spring events to keep the festival in the public eye.

A year ago - as part of Look Sideways East - a regional initiative to boost cultural tourism outside the traditional tourism season, Lynn Festival was invited to stage mini-festivals last autumn and in spring and autumn this year.

A detail from one of Sue O'Brien's pictures, showing interiors and exteriors of some of Lynn's historic buildings  Picture: Sue O'BrienA detail from one of Sue O'Brien's pictures, showing interiors and exteriors of some of Lynn's historic buildings Picture: Sue O'Brien

The next weekend event on April 26 - 28 is being staged alongside the town’s first Shakespeare Festival - to commemorate the fact the Bard himself may have trod the boards at the guildhall.

St George’s Guildhall, with its huge historic significance, has always been a key venue for festival events but the three town centre churches – the Minster, St Nicholas’ Chapel and All Saints – plus the Town Hall and the Corn Exchange also enable audiences to appreciate Lynn’s rich heritage.

Festival chair Alison Croose said: “Lynn, like every other town and city, has changed dramatically in the past 70 years. But there is great awareness that the town, with its strategic position near the mouth of the River Ouse, has much to offer at the gateway to the glorious West Norfolk countryside and coast and its distinctive attributes are being both promoted and protected.

“The festival maintains its quality hallmark while also providing a broad spectrum of music and the arts offering something for everyone. About one in five ticket-buyers are from outside the East of England and each year the event attracts more and more visitors from all over Britain and abroad who delight in discovering Lynn and all it has to offer.”

The 69th King’s Lynn Festival is on July 14 - 27. Visit www.kingslynnfestival.org.uk

Sue searches out town’s beauty

Sue O’Brien’s graphic creations pay homage to Lynn’s rich built heritage - declared one of the town’s best features by respondents to our survey.

Landmarks are painstakenly shot from all angles on her trusty Nikon.

Then she plots up at her computer screen and weaves a web of masks and layers, chopping and changing perspectives to create a personal collage.

Her works are on show all month in the Soul Cafe, on Norfolk Street.

The retired teacher and graphic artist, 72, said: “All the historical buildings are beautiful. I had to do something on all the historical bits of King’s Lynn.”

Ms O’Brien is the latest in a long line of artists to be inspired by the town’s historic quarter, with its waterfront and big skies. Her favourite?

“It’s either the towers or Pilot Street,” she said. “All the historical bits are just beautiful.”

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