Why more people are moving to Kirkby Lonsdale

The busy town centre

The busy town centre - Credit: Pics; John Cocks

New homes mean that Kirkby Lonsdale is growing but nothing has diminished its reputation as one of the region’s loveliest places.

St Mary's is a Norman church built between 1093 and 1130

St Mary's is a Norman church built between 1093 and 1130 - Credit: Pics; John Cocks

Ah, lovely Kirkby Lonsdale. To the lucky 2,000 residents who live in the town, which is regularly voted one of the most desirable places to live in the UK, it’s bathed in sunshine all year round – metaphorically at least. Last summer it really was for months on end; rather fitting as Sarah and Edward Beattie had finally taken the plunge and opened their ice cream parlour using milk from the family farm. ‘When we opened in May the sun seemed to continually shine. It gave us a really good start and people knew we were here,’ said Sarah. ‘The business has gone much better than we could have hoped for, and the weather kick started it.’

And they kept the business running all through the winter using milk from the farm to create hot drinks, including luxurious hot chocolate. ‘Our milk is still produced throughout the year, so we needed to find ways to use it,’ added Sarah.

It wasn’t just the stunning weather that led to The Milking Parlour being such a success – the couple’s sense of style led to them featuring in the Sunday Times Home supplement last month. And if you missed that, this summer you’re likely to see more of them as they’re doing up an old cattle trailer to take to weddings, food fairs and other events. ‘People feel really connected with the product, they know the provenance and that it’s unique to Kirkby Lonsdale,’ said Sarah, whose husband Edward has just given up his job to work full time in the business.

At a time when high street stores are shutting, Kirkby is bucking the trend with its busy independent shops attracting more than 24,000 visitors throughout the year. New businesses which have set up bricks and mortar shops during the past six months include Crofton & Hall, which has captured the market in selling luxury British brands.

Ruskin's View over the River Lune

Ruskin's View over the River Lune - Credit: Pics; John Cocks

It’s a family affair with Diane and John Taylor, who run the popular South Lakes hostelry, The Masons Arms at Strawberry Bank, working alongside their son Harry who is taking the lead with the fashion business. Harry set up the online clothing business in 2017 and the shop opened last autumn with a view to selling top quality, British made garments and accessories.

It’s named after Crofton Hall in Cumbria, the seat of the Brisco family. They have strong ties to Harry’s family. ‘I wanted to sell things that you can get in London, but not here.

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‘We opened before Christmas and we had a really good reception and very loyal customers,’ said Harry, who is 23. ‘People really appreciate they are British brands,’

It’s quite a change of direction for him as he previously worked as one of the coaching staff at Liverpool Football Club.

Staircase show you what to expect at The Book Lounge

Staircase show you what to expect at The Book Lounge - Credit: Pics; John Cocks

As well as some well established food businesses – award-winning Hipping Hall is just on the outskirts – new businesses include a Turkish barber and The Book Lounge set up by former high school librarian Valerie Laycock. ‘It’s been a really promising start. There’s been such a lot of support from the community,’ she said, admitting it was a learning curve as she was used to advising pupils about Young Adult books but was now having to learn about other genres.

‘People do comment on the layout, everything is alphabetical although it’s not necessarily the Dewey Decimal System!’

Town centre manager Janet Nuttall is based at the information centre and she is busy organising this year’s events which for the first time includes an Irish Music Festival at the end of June which could see the town ‘overwhelmed’ with visitors.

‘It will set the benchmark for what we might be able to do in the future,’ said town councillor Allan Muirhead. For the event, Kay Porteous, who runs Sew What just off Main Street, has ‘volunteered’ to make 1,000 metres of bunting in red, white and green. ‘I remembered “volunteering” years ago to make bunting and I said never again! Will you remind me of that if I ever volunteer again?’ she laughed.

The information centre, based in a former bank, has a new attraction charting seven fascinating stories relating to Kirkby’s past. The stories include one about art expert and writer John Ruskin – and no, it’s not his famous quote about the view of the River Lune being ‘one of the loveliest in England’ – to the town’s links with a famous suffragette and a disaster in which seven women died.

Other events include a ‘New Traders Market’ which is being held in the Market Square in June and is designed to help young people get support for their business ideas. Howard Hill has already set up his garden business – gardening, designing and selling plants and garden furniture. ‘I’m hoping the event will build up my business. All these big garden nurseries started off small,’ the ambitious 18-year-old said. Other stalls will include vegan food and reflexology.

Janet Nuttall, who started her job last year, is also involved in an art competition to decorate the doors of the town’s five public toilets. ‘It’s not something you automatically think to shout about but the five toilets are cleaned every day and it’s a reflection of how the town treats its visitors,’ she said. Offers have already come in from professional artists to school pupils and once judging has been completed they hope to have the artworks finished and ready for the summer season.

Ah, lovely Kirkby Lonsdale, they think of everything – even if you have to spend a penny or two to enjoy it.

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