Lavenham aiming to capitalise on its wool trade heritage
A new promotional strategy for Lavenham capitalising on the area’s wool trade heritage has gained the unanimous backing of a recently formed village forum.
The ‘Wool Towns’ initiative follows a move by the county and district councils to apply for a share in a £2.2million grant to fund a rebranding exercise, designed to attract more tourists to villages which have historic links to the wool trade.
Lavenham Forum, which has taken over the role of the former Merchants’ Guild, held its first annual general meeting and all 40 members present backed the scheme.
Roy Whitworth, chairman of the forum, said: “Lavenham is a prime example of a wool town and we are determined to be in the forefront of this campaign.
“We have seen an almost unprecedented level of investment in Lavenham over the past year and now is the right time to recognise the confidence of the business community by telling the world what Lavenham has to offer.”
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New investments include Weavers Spa at the Swan Hotel and a new exhibition at the Guildhall museum funded by £160,000 in grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Biffa Award and the county council.
The Greyhound pub has been renovated and revamped by new owners, The Angel has been turned back into a traditional pub after chef Marco Pierre White sold it and a new wine bar, Number 10, has opened in Lady Street.
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In addition, the village now has two Co-op stores, a new butchers shop and café in the high street.
Regis Crepy, owner of The Great House restaurant in Market Place who will celebrate three decades at the venue this year, said: “Lavenham is becoming the food capital of Suffolk with a choice of 13 good quality places to eat. Our campaign will be aimed at attracting visitors who will appreciate Lavenham’s unique blend of culture art, historical interest and food.”
The county council has asked for £2.2m from the European funding scheme known as the LEADER programme to bring the wool towns initiative alive.
Babergh and Mid Suffolk’s corporate manager for economic development, Dave Benham, said it was about creating jobs, supporting businesses and enabling them to expand and be more successful.
He added: “Most businesses in this area are about tourism which is all about encouraging people to come to our towns and villages. If the bid is successful, we want to spend the money on something that brings cohesion to the area and the wool town brand.”