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Is Pocklington about to become Yorkshire’s newest foodie destination?

PUBLISHED: 00:00 08 June 2018

Josephine Brown of Brown's Greengrocers, one of the busy independent stores

Josephine Brown of Brown's Greengrocers, one of the busy independent stores

Joan Russell Photography

An East Yorkshire town aims to become an exciting foodie destination, as Emma Mayoh reports

There are plenty of independent shops in PocklingtonThere are plenty of independent shops in Pocklington

Don’t be fooled by Pocklington. This small East Yorkshire market town is a place with big ambitions. The thriving arts scene fuelled by places like Pocklington Arts Centre and the Platform Festival – both attracting popular performers like Ross Noble, KT Tunstall and a raft of award-winning theatre shows – is a place that packs a cultural punch.

But this thriving gateway to the Yorkshire Wolds also has a menu of fantastic places to eat and drink, food grown and reared locally and culinary minded businesspeople determined to put Pocklington on the foodie map. For resident Tony Farmer, dedicated foodie and founder of the Food Entrepreneur Awards, it’s an opportunity to be relished.

‘There was a time when the food offer wasn’t great but that is changing,’ said Tony, who has lived in the town for more than 30 years. ‘There is a tremendous amount of opportunity in Pocklington. There is now that chance to be innovative, to do things that would really push the food and drink offer in the town. And if the right people can get behind it, things would really push forward.’

There is a good choice of food and drink venues in Pocklington as well as a thriving market, and it is home to some of the county’s best growers and producers. There are whispers too of a new food and drink festival being launched later in the year.

Tthe lasndmark All Saints Church clocktowerTthe lasndmark All Saints Church clocktower

Some of Tony’s favourite places are the traditional retailers that are a part of the fabric of the town. ‘Our two butchers, Burtons and Sissons, are such an important part of the community,’ said Tony. ‘And there’s Browns the greengrocers, too. All these businesses are giving the local farmers an important outlet for their produce and providing a fantastic service to the town. We’ve also got Stamford Restaurant and Judson’s Wine Bar run by people determined to provide the best for Pocklington.

‘The St Vincent Arms, just outside Pocklington, is a massive draw for people to the area. It’s run by a fantastic family. Pocklington is in a situation where there is great opportunity with room for more food businesses. It is really exciting.’

The 64-year-old, a corporate finance partner at Garbutt & Elliott, is one of the founders of the Food Entrepreneur Awards which held its first ceremony earlier this year. They were launched to help celebrate the work of the food businesses that have put Yorkshire on the map.

Tony, also treasurer at Pocklington Rugby Club, is proud to fly the foodie flag not only for Pocklington but also for the county. He aims to shine a light on small start-ups to large established businesses that have excelled in product innovation, rapid growth, partnership working, branding, market resilience and exporting.

Tony Farmer strolls through the centre of Pocklington, a town he says aims to be a foodie destination Photo: Lorne Campbell / GuzelianTony Farmer strolls through the centre of Pocklington, a town he says aims to be a foodie destination Photo: Lorne Campbell / Guzelian

‘One thing that is clear is how well known Yorkshire has now become for its food,’ he said. ‘There are many people and businesses doing absolutely wonderful things like Hesper Farm who are producing the UK’s only Icelandic yogurt on a farm at Bell Busk, near Skipton.

‘We launched the awards because business operations in food are a thriving sector. We want to highlight those companies, big and small, who are driving the food industry. Pocklington can be part of the fantastic food offer in the county. I’m excited to see how the town is going to develop. I know food will play a big part in its future.’

It may only be a few miles long but Pocklington Canal has a great deal to offer. Pocklington Canal Amenity Society (PCAS) and the Canal & River Trust, the charity that cares for 2,000 miles of waterways nationwide, are calling on the people of Pocklington to become volunteers and help share the joys of their local canal

Lizzie Dealey, Pocklington Canal project officer at Canal & River Trust, said they work to ensure that waterways benefit local communities but they need the help of volunteers. She said: ‘We know that volunteering can have hugely positive impacts, helping people make new friends, learn new skills and get active.

Pocklington a town with ambitionsPocklington a town with ambitions

‘Pocklington Canal is a real gem in the Yorkshire landscape and is enjoyed by people and wildlife in so many ways. We need volunteers to give up just a bit of their spare time to help showcase the waterway to visitors and keep it thriving.’

Tim Charlson of Pocklington Canal Amenity Society added: ‘Since PCAS was formed in 1969 we have enjoyed many successes in restoring and re-opening sections of the Pocklington Canal, but we can’t do this without our dedicated supporters.

‘Anyone can get involved as a volunteer, and in addition to walk leaders and welcome volunteers, we’re always in need of people to assist with practical tasks such as bridge and lock repairs, habitat management and litter picking.’

This year, Pocklington Canal celebrates its bicentenary, with a whole host of events and activities taking place over the coming months. Volunteers will be a vital part of the celebrations, helping to ensure visitors get a warm welcome and know where to find the various attractions including a series of free events and activities to encourage the community to celebrate its history and support its future.

The 9.5-mile canal opened in 1818, built to carry all sorts of goods, including coal, manure, flour and timber, but was superseded shortly afterwards by railways in the mid-19th century. The canal, which became derelict, has been partly restored and boats are able to travel along half its length. It is also an important wildlife habitat for local people to enjoy. The 200th anniversary events start this spring and run right through until autumn, with a host of activities that people can get involved with.

To see the full programme of events, visit canalrivertrust.org.uk/enjoy-the-waterways/events.

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