FRIDAY, MAY 13 2011
COCKERMOUTH WINS PRESTIGIOUS MARKET TOWN AWARD
Cockermouth has won a national award for the transformation of its town centre in the wake of the 2009 floods.
The town has received a prestigious Action for Market Towns commendation for the Cockermouth Shopfront Heritage Scheme, which aimed to restore and enhance the streetscene of Main Street. After the devastation of the floods, many of the shops are now unrecognisable, with improved facades, redesigned windows and gleaming paintwork, designed to be in keeping with the town’s historical roots.
The Action for Market Towns Awards recognise and showcase initiatives that are helping the UK’s small market towns to adapt to change and flourish. The Chamber of Trade, which led the application for the awards, partnered with Cockermouth Civic Trust, Allerdale Borough Council, Cockermouth Town Council, local design practices Red Raven, Green Design Group and Day Cummins, Churches Together and the National Trust on the shopfront initiative. Allerdale Borough Council invested £70,000 into the scheme – which was boosted by an anonymous donation of a further £50,000 – and employed flood recovery co-ordinator Dr Les Tickner to help the town get back on its feet.
It was particularly important to all the partners that Cockermouth’s unique mix of independent businesses was preserved. The heritage grant helps bridge the gap between shopfront replacement costs paid by insurers and the cost of installing an improved shopfront that was more in-keeping with Cockermouth’s history.
Brian Trengove, Chairman of Cockermouth & District Chamber of Trade, said: “Following the floods in November 2009, the desolate Main Street became a blank canvass for restoring this ‘gem’ Georgian town back to some of its former glory. With the provision of generous support to restore flood damaged property came careful planning and co-operation.
“The heritage of the town has been restored by this far sighted scheme and its success has been made possible by friendly co-operation and the talents of those who have contributed to this town and team effort.
The Chamber of Trade is proud to have been associated with others who have all played their part in restoring the now hugely attractive town centre.”
Darren Ward, architectural advisor for Cockermouth Civic Trust, came up with the shopfront scheme. He said: “We are delighted that Cockermouth has received this award. The shop front regeneration scheme is still underway so to receive this prestigious prize before its full completion is recognition of the importance of high quality streetscapes and their positive impact on community spirit and local economic viability.
“What the shop front scheme set out to achieve was to enhance and secure Cockermouth’s uniqueness and long, successful history to create a positive vision for the future that will allow Cockermouth to continue to thrive as a fully functioning market town.”
Jill Elliott, Allerdale Borough Council’s Strategic Manager for Business, added: “This award is a terrific accolade for Cockermouth. Allerdale Borough Council is proud to have helped bring about this revival from the floods by working with local traders and community organisations from the outset to reinvigorate the town’s historic streetscape. We hope that – in addition to our grant funding and the support offered by our officers and local councillors – this award will encourage even more visitors to come to Cockermouth and boost the local economy.”
Chris Wade, chief executive of Action for Market Towns, said: “The quality and quantity of our entries shows that the big society is flourishing in many small towns across the north of England as communities show the spirit of self reliance.”
For more information about the Chamber, or to set up interviews or photographs, call Suzanne Elsworth, Chamber of Trade Press Officer, on 07881 816140.
- Cockermouth’s police station, three banks, the library, two GP surgeries, and two pharmacies were amongst those forced to relocate following the floods on Thursday 19 November 2009. Twenty bridges were closed – the only crossing of the Derwent between the Irish Sea and Keswick was at Papcastle Bridge, causing traffic chaos. Official figures said that 917 properties were flooded, including 226 businesses – affecting 80% of the town’s traders.
- Cockermouth and District Chamber of Trade’s marketing plan was created to improve the town’s fortunes in the wake of the floods. The plan has four main themes:
- To encourage the people of Cockermouth to shop in the town
- To attract those living in the local area to use the district’s businesses
- To increase business-to-business trade
- To entice tourists and visitors from further afield to come to the town and its surrounding districts.
- More information about the Chamber’s work is available at www.cockermouthbusiness.org
- Action for Market Towns (AMT) is a national charity committed to the vitality and viability of our small towns. It offers training, consultancy, national advocacy and other services. Towns eligible to enter the Action for Market Town Awards have a population of between 2,000 and 35,000, offer at least convenience shopping and meet some weekly and specialist needs. The awards are supported by the Big Lottery Fund.