Spalding and District Civic Society is behind our campaign to elicit big ideas about how people would like to see Spalding in the future and are happy to take part in the ideas forum proposed by local MP John Hayes. For some time the Society has had in mind a themed group of art works within Spalding town centre and have been talking with arts group Transported. Here is their vision...
Once, Spalding really was a market town. Its centre was the market – with all its farming sights, sounds and smells.
Sheep in the Sheepmarket, cattle in New Road, pigs off Red Lion Street, horses at the top end of Pinchbeck Road, poultry where the Heron Frozen Foods store is, and the annual hiring fair in Hall Place.
Even when the livestock moved to the new Cattle Market in 1938, Spalding remained the recognisable hub of a mixed farming area (cattle were still being driven through the streets in the 1960s – and escaping into the Grammar School yard!).
But not any longer. Fortunate though we are to still have the twice-weekly stall-market and the monthly farmers’ market, the centre of Spalding today seems to be at something of a loose end, to have lost its way, its character.
Not for us the mighty presence of Boston’s Stump or its shipping or Stamford’s wealth of honey-coloured Georgian streets to stamp a clear identity on the town. So where to start?
The obvious place would be the river but that’s another story. What the committee would like to propose here is something that could combine our vanished market history with our lack of public art. Two minuses that, paradoxically, could become a plus.
Suppose each former market site were to have its own striking emblem of our market heritage – sculpture, mosaic or other work of public art. You mean some sheep in the Sheepmarket? A bullock in New Road? That’s right. It only sounds odd perhaps until you see what has been done elsewhere.
Besides the exciting or endearing examples above, others that come to mind are the rugged statue of a farmer and his ram in the centre of Oswestry and the elegant group of deer just as you enter Tadcaster on the A659.
It would be important to commission a variety of artists. It’s not difficult to think of a particular location in the Sheepmarket or New Road, but others would be more challenging.
The point is, though, that the sculptures etc would be close enough together – as were the various locations in the original cattle market – to form a recognisable grouping in the town centre.
Done with boldness and imagination, it could create the distinctive identity that the centre of Spalding at present lacks, the sort of feature that would bring visitors into the heart of the town after their tour of Ayscoughfee Museum and the parish church and get the cameras clicking.
Not to mention a permanent source of pleasure for those who live and work in the town. A commemoration of our market town heritage and an encouragement of the living arts.
To adapt a phrase... yes, we could.