High street hopes in the North Yorkshire market town of Selby
PUBLISHED: 18:08 09 July 2012 | UPDATED: 21:36 20 February 2013
Selby has woken its entrepreneurial spirit as Tony Greenway discovers when he visits the North Yorkshire market town Photographs by Joan Russell
The last time Yorkshire Life visited Selby it noted that the town was enjoying a well-deserved renaissance but moaned that it still lacks a cinema. Its last-surviving picture house, The Ritz, burned down in 1982. The day Selby has a new, modern cinema, is when the town can say it is truly back on the map.
Well, it can say that now because it has one, sort of. OK, so the Selby Globe Community Cinema isnt, actually, a new modern building with the latest digital technology and hi-spec surround sound; its actually a screen in Selby Town Hall. But that scarcely matters because since 2009, the Globe has been doing a remarkable job of bringing cinema back into this thriving North Yorkshire market town, so much so that last year it won the Duke of York Community Initiative Award for the development of community spirit, individual leadership and recognition of excellence.
For instance, the Globes Silver Screen Matinee with lunch costs just 3.50. The cinema also puts on a monthly film show and screens movies for families during the school holidays; and its created its own outreach programme, taking film into rural locations throughout the Selby district.
The Globe is the brainchild of Eva Lambert, a Selby local who tenaciously persuaded the council that showing films to residents was a good idea. I want the Globe to be a regular service, says Eva. Its not about the money. The end goal is that we get a cinema in Selby.
The Globe is an enterprising place just like Selby itself, in fact. Theres a lot of get-up-and-go in the town, particularly since its heavy industry got-up-and-went. Selbys shipyard famously built Greenpeaces Rainbow Warrior but closed in the mid-1990s and the Selby coalfield ceased production in 2004.
Since then a variety of shops have opened up (there are lots of good coffee shops here, I notice) and the Three Lakes retail park on the Bawtry Road does brisk business. Planning has also been submitted for Olympia Park, a regeneration scheme to create a new eastern gateway for Selby with green space, retail, residential and commercial development.
Theres no market on the day I visit its a sunny Wednesday morning and market day is Monday yet the high street seems busy enough. And Selby has the forethought to be the only town in the UK with a free public access Wi-Fi service.
So is Selby thriving? Id certainly say it is, says David Fieldsend, chairman of Selby Chamber, which is involved with all aspects of commercial life in the Selby district and has over 200 members from all types of retail, commercial, professional and industrial businesses. We have some niche shops, such as specialist cheese shop, for instance, but it would be nice to boost those we have with some high class names and services.
Wetherspoons is coming to Selby shortly, for example but other big name retailers like Marks &Spencer would do wonders for the town. Like many other centres, Selby needs to entice shoppers into the town to sample its facilities.
Earlier this year, Mary Portas and Local Government Minister Grant Shapps launched a competition to choose 12 towns to become Portas Pilots. The winners receive a share of 1million of Government funding to help turn around their unloved and unused high streets. Enterprising Selby, naturally, put together a bid and a video supporting it is now available to watch on YouTube.
In the bid video, one shop owner sums it up well. Selby, he says, is sometimes seen as the poor cousin that lives just south of York and, to capitalise on its potential, needs people to fall back in love with it again.
Eva helped put together the Portas bid and spoke to every shop owner in Selby High Street. That was 102 people, she says. Youd think youd get some negative comments but everyone was incredibly positive. Thats the key to Selby, I think.
It helps that the town looks attractive, of course, especially with the imposing Selby Abbey at the end of the High Street. For outsiders, the abbey is a big draw and always has been with its George Washington window (although thats just a tiny part of this stunning piece of architecture) and programme of concerts and events.
Across the road from the abbey is Selby Park, a well-tended green space and by the river is the amphitheatre and waterfront gardens, which opened in 2009.
Selby has lots to offer. Its a very friendly place to live and work, says David. I do a lot of travelling up and down the country and its always nice to come home to Selby.
Getting there: Selby is on the A19 from Doncaster to York and the A63 from Leeds to Hull. Selby railway station is on the Hull-York line and the Leeds- Hull line. The Arriva bus depot in Selby offers services to Goole, Doncaster, Leeds, Pontefract, Wakefield and York.
Where to park: There is parking in Micklegate, Church Hill, Selby Park, Market Cross, Audus Street, South Parade, Back Micklegate and Portholme Road.
What to do: Visit the historic Selby Abbey, take a Selby Civic Trust history trail, see a film at the Globe Community Cinema and spend, spend, spend in the bustling Monday market.