Meet the people making Ramsbottom such a success

Looking toward the Tilted Vase sculpture in the centre of Ramsbottom

Looking toward the Tilted Vase sculpture in the centre of Ramsbottom - Credit: Archant

Celebrating some of the people who make Ramsbottom such a thriving and pleasant place to live and visit.

Artist, Lynn Kirkley at Olchons Gallery

Artist, Lynn Kirkley at Olchons Gallery - Credit: Archant

Ramsbottom is used to attracting visitors, even during a pandemic. Nonetheless, Carol Rothwell had to smile when one family, who live just two miles away, decided to spend their summer holiday at The Paddock, the glamping and yurt site she runs with her daughter, Charlotte Hanley.

‘They packed their youngsters in the back of the car, drove around for an hour to confuse them before arriving here and telling them they were a long way from home. It worked: they all had a fabulous time,’ says Carol.

The Paddock is in an idyllic setting, close to Carol’s home. Luxury tents have fire pits, showers, barbeque packs and fairy lights and mean it is becoming ever more popular as people search for gorgeous places in which to have their staycation, even locals.

‘Yes, bookings are up but obviously some things have changed,’ she adds. ‘We are constantly cleaning – my hands tell the tale – and our usual luxurious furnishings have had to be removed, many of them are stacked up in my house where I fall over them every day.’

Ramsbottom Social; Joanna Murphy Lunn, Nicola Murphy Lunn, Alex Smith and Kayleigh Ritson

Ramsbottom Social; Joanna Murphy Lunn, Nicola Murphy Lunn, Alex Smith and Kayleigh Ritson - Credit: Archant

Glen Duckett of The Eagle and Child didn’t allow the lockdown to slow him down; he spent the period sending out meals to NHS workers and vulnerable groups.

‘Members of my team volunteered and we pulled together, at one point we even provided a homeless project with soup kettles and a freezer. The display of community spirit in this area has been a much needed positive,’ says Glen who has now re-opened his award-winning pub.

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‘Luckily, we have our lush gardens where people can come, sit surrounded by our growing produce, inhale its deliciousness, drink in the glorious views and watch our pet chickens. It was popular before Covid but getting close to nature is more important than ever now,’ says Glen.

Philip Hargreaves of the Chocolate Café also believes an outside space is an essential boost. He completed a refurbishment of the café just two days before the lockdown began and says: ‘The announcement, although essential, was pretty bad timing for me and it’s still challenging but I have to look forward and adapt.’

Landscape view over Ramsbottom

Landscape view over Ramsbottom - Credit: Archant

As well as making it safe to eat inside, Philip has also been given permission to site 24 socially distanced tables in the adjacent Market Place.

At least the Chocolate Café was well established when lockdown struck, unlike the Ramsbottom Social. Owned and run by married couple, Nicola and Joanne Murphy Lunn, it all happened just as they were refitting Ramsbottom’s newest bar and bistro.

‘We’re positive people with hospitality backgrounds and, while we can’t deny it was a setback, the reasons we chose Ramsbottom to launch our venue haven’t gone away, so we dusted ourselves down, pressed on with the refurbishment and opened at the end of July,’ says Nicola.

‘We want to be a social space – as the name suggests – for everyone from people who want to enjoy a spot of dining to groups who just fancy a hand-crafted coffee. We’ll be making the upstairs into a space where groups, such as young mums, can meet. It will also be a great place for private events as soon as we’re on the other side,’ says Joanne.

For now though, the women, who were just too late opening to take advantage of the government’s discounted eating out scheme, have adapted by offering take outs and delivery as well, as safe indoor dining.

‘We’re Lancashire women and in that strong tradition, we mean to succeed,’ Joanne says.

Still caring

Ramsbottom’s famous Bleak Holt animal sanctuary – home to 250 animals – has been badly financially affected as its charity shops, bookshop and cafe had to close. Animals have still been taken in during the pandemic and given medical help where needed. During the pandemic, visitors are not allowed, except for adoption appointments but updates about how they are all getting on are regularly posted on the website and social media.

Showcasing local talent

The Olchon Gallery, run by brothers, Olchon and John, prides itself on presenting work by exceptionally talented local artists. ‘The gallery was opened as a tribute to our mother, who was a keen artist, so that aspect is important to us,’ says Olchon.

‘Ramsbottom is acquiring a reputation as a centre for the arts and so we are used to lots of visitors, whether they’re buying an expensive piece or just starting a collection with some cards. It is more difficult now, of course, but we’re open for business, following the rules and when did a mask ever stop anyone talking about art?’

Rhyme time

Performance poet Paul Jenkins has worked with the BBC, Shakespeare in Schools, has his own radio show and runs workshops.

He writes about lots of things and can be commissioned if you want a personal poem but words fail you. His chief inspiration though is Ramsbottom – he’s even the official Ramsbottom Running Group poet, geeing them up when spirits flag – and his latest collection of poetry, Villagetown, is inspired by the long running controversy: is Ramsbottom a village or a town?

All things beautiful

Laura Morris opened Life Store in December 2019 and says: ‘The store was a natural progression for me. I was known for my hand poured candles and I thought, as I love beautiful things so much, why not put together a selection and open a store. It was immediately successful, with some people telling me they came in for the scent alone but then lockdown hit and, like everyone else, I had to close.

‘Thankfully, it wasn’t long before people were ordering items such as candles, luxurious slipper socks and aromatherapy items to make isolation just that bit nicer,’ adds Laura, who has opened again and has introduced a new line of baby clothing.