Skipton gets ready for the Tour de France
PUBLISHED: 00:00 25 November 2013 | UPDATED: 20:10 31 August 2018
Historic Skipton will be filled with vibrant colours next summer to mark one of the world's greatest sporting events. Andrew Vine reports.
There is going to be the warmest of Yorkshire welcomes when the glamour and excitement of the Tour de France comes to the Gateway to the Dales next summer. And there’ll be something else to wow the competitors and crowds packing into Skipton for what promises to be two unforgettable days – a riot of colour, thanks to one of our county’s leading horticultural associations. Skipton in Bloom will stage a floral spectacular to mark the arrival in the Dales of one of the world’s greatest sporting events from July 3rd to 5th, and it’s going to be a real community effort. Planning is now under way for just how Skipton in Bloom will mark the world-class event, but it’s safe to say the displays that are such a feature of the historic market town will have a cycling theme, and a colour scheme that nods to the bright yellow jersey worn by the leading rider.
Sue Warburton, the organisation’s vice-chairman, said: ‘A colour scheme to fit in with the yellow jersey is a possibility, and we’re thinking about combining floral displays with bikes, maybe just wheels. If we could fill old bicycle wheels with flowers, that would look pretty spectacular.
‘If we could incorporate bicycles somewhere along the High Street that would be brilliant. We’re open to suggestions from anyone about how we can combine bikes, wheels and flowers. The more ideas the better, and if anyone has a bit of spare time, they’re more than welcome to come along and help us.’
Skipton in Bloom created a Jubilee Garden in Newmarket Street to mark the Queen’s 60 years on the throne last year, and there’s every likelihood that it will once again be a focus for the Tour de France displays.
And filling Skipton with flowers is going to bring the community together. Six months of work lie ahead once detailed plans for the displays are drawn up, involving volunteers, students from Craven College, and Stepping Stones, a community gardening project for adults with learning disabilities, which grows the plants that will form the displays.
But then Skipton in Bloom has been firmly rooted in its community since being formed in 2005. Besides the college and Stepping Stones, its membership also includes Craven Volunteer Centre, the two Skipton Rotary clubs, Yorkshire Housing, Skipton Gardeners’ Club, Skipton Town Council, and Skipton BID – the town’s business development organisation. All shared a vision of making Skipton as attractive as possible for its residents and the hundreds of thousands of visitors who come every year to stroll around the pretty streets, or along the canal, or tour the castle. It’s about taking a pride in the town that is synonymous with the Yorkshire Dales, as well as creating a more sustainable and environmentally friendly landscape.
There is the annual Skipton Gardening Competition, run by the organisation, which presents awards to residents, businesses and allotment holders, but that’s not the only way that Skipton in Bloom has brought about a real change for the better in the town. It provides more than 180 hanging baskets, and commissioned the sandstone ‘Welcome to Skipton’ sign that is now a familiar landmark for visitors, as well as brightening up the bus station with planters.
Barrel-shaped planters are now a distinctive feature of the streets, and the war memorial gardens have been redesigned and refurbished in collaboration with Craven College, Stepping Stones and the Royal British Legion. Aireville Park, Petyt Grove and The Bailey are now more attractive than ever in spring, thanks to a rolling programme of bulb planting.
And there is also an honourable record of awards for the displays masterminded by Skipton in Bloom which have become such an admired feature of the town in the summer months, notably two consecutive Yorkshire Rose Gold Awards
Skipton in Bloom is justifiably proud of its achievements. ‘Over the last five or six years, we’ve really managed to increase the number of displays around the town in different forms, barrels, barrier planters and hanging baskets,’ said Sue. ‘We tend to identify areas that we think need improvement, and then set about how best to do it.
‘The Tour is a very exciting prospect because we’re going to get thousands and thousands of extra visitors coming to the town, and it would be nice to have it looking as good as possible.’
The clock is now counting down to the arrival of the tour cavalcade in the Dales next summer. By then, the planning and hard work of Skipton in Bloom and its partners will have paid dividends and the town will be alive with colour.
And as the cyclists speed through the historic streets, the worldwide television audience for Le Grand Depart will catch a glimpse of the floral displays that have become such a characteristic part of this most distinctive of Yorkshire market towns.