East Ridings' Pocklington - Soaring above the rest
PUBLISHED: 14:34 13 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:14 20 February 2013
Chris Titley heads east to a town of many surprises
At a time when England serves up so many clone towns, with their identikit high streets and chain store uniformity, Pocklington delivers a rather pleasing shock to the senses. Walking along its main thoroughfare, the Market Place, you are immediately struck by the industriousness of its architects. These guys never used a floor-plan twice. Every building is unique: a thin one is squashed up against a squat one which leans on a high and wide one.
Then it dawns: where are the same old retail names? A remarkably large number of Pocklington's businesses are one-offs, and they're run by one-offs too.
Here you find shopkeepers who not only know the names of their customers, but care for their welfare, a sentiment rarely found in your average multiple.
In Market Place alone, there's colourful sports shop Balls'n'All, the Fresh Food Deli and Coffee Bar, the Acorn Gallery advertising 'Bob Dylan Signed Limited Editions', an Italian restaurant called Pane e Vino and three fine pubs: the Black Bull, the Swan, and most imperious of all, the whitewashed Feathers Hotel.
It's here too that you'll find cultural nourishment in the superb Pocklington Arts Centre. Residents have become almost used to the fact that it regularly punches above its weight, bringing musicians of the calibre of Mercury Prize nominated singer-songwriter Kathryn Williams and Glenn Tilbrook to the town, not to mention comedians Barry Cryer and Sandi Toksvig
In Pocklington everything you need is within strolling distance. I should know: on my visit enjoyed a fine pork pie lunch courtesy of WF Burton, butcher; and saw my flat watch battery efficiently replaced by the experts at Hobson's Jewellers. What more could a man want?
There were other shop window temptations that I managed to resist with only the strongest appliance of willpower. Two doors down from the Pocklington Cobbler, Allsorts on Grape Lane sells, well, all sorts; but my eye was caught by an array of vintage volumes with evocative names like Odhams Motor Manual, The Observer Book of Dogs and The Footballer's Fireside Book.
Elsewhere there is a welcome reminder of Pocklington's rural soul, with a tack room sale on at RM English & Son Pet and Animal Feeds. Meanwhile the handsome All Saints Church looks down on it all.