Time For Reflection – January 2013

 The first week in January is a good time to look back over the past year and 2012 has been a successful year for Retford Civic Society’s heritage  and community projects.

Dyers Court was an uncared for passageway between Grove Street and Churchgate, where Clark’s Dyeworks had operated for over 50 years before moving to larger premises. The project developed as a partnership of public, private and voluntary sectors and the area has been vastly improved. This has involved repairs to three buildings, reinstatement of architectural detail and the design, drawing and painting of a mural showing laundry workers in the old days. New seating and a litter bin have also been installed as well as lighting in the passageway and a few coats of paint – all due to the efforts of Civic Society volunteers.

The Churchgate Car Park project this year has smartened up that entrance with replanting of the gardens and landscaping with stone flags. It was undertaken in partnership with Bassetlaw District Council and the adjacent property owner, and has made a welcome improvement to the area.

Another garden project, at the side of St Swithuns Church, has seen the planting of a rose bed, thanks to the generous donations of two Civic Society members, and a seat, previously from the Market Square, refurbished and positioned alongside, again by our volunteers.

 August saw the launch of the new ‘Young Persons Heritage Guide to Retford’ which is freely available for use by individuals and schools and can be obtained from the Tourist Information Centre in Grove Street. Hopefully this colourful and informative guide will encourage young people to take an interest in their heritage.

 The annual Retford Heritage Open Day  was started five years ago by the Civic Society. It was once again a highlight of our calendar year in September, with even more buildings being freely open to the public and with events taking place throughout the town. A large number of community groups took part, creating a sense of pride in the history and heritage of our town.

 Retford in Bloom was a great success with all of us being impressed by the town’s floral displays, primary school gardening projects and wonderful front gardens. By working together we can create a town that encourages visitors with its colourful and cared-for environment. Visitors create a dynamic town centre economy. It is also good to see the Town Centre Business Forum working together to promote the town. This is the only way for town centres to survive the onslaught of out of town and internet shopping. The Civic Society were pleased to support the Town Centre Business Forum to ‘brighten up’ one of our main retail areas during the Christmas period by obtaining funding to help towards providing 40 Christmas tree and flag pole brackets, plus trees and lights to businesses located along Carolgate and Spa Lane. It is hoped to develop the project further next year in other parts of the town.

The Society works closely with Bassetlaw District Council officers, local councillors and Notts County Council to improve the town, but as a charity it is also able to access funding that is not available to local authorities. This together with invaluable support from volunteers and community groups has enabled us to complete over 60 community-base projects in Retford over the last 10 years.

 I look forward to 2013 with new projects and new challenges – a community working in partnership with local organisations, volunteers, businesses , councillors and council officers – a recipe for success that makes Retford a great place to live!

 Derek Turner – Chairman Retford Civic Society


Chairman's Chat December 2012



Today, for a town to thrive as a social and economic entity, the community needs to take pride in its buildings, heritage and facilities and be involved in its future development.


The heyday of civic pride in the UK was the 19th century when industrial towns and cities experienced massive growth in their populations as a result of the industrial revolution. Civic pride motivated the citizens to build some of the greatest buildings in the country today -  such as town halls, libraries, art galleries and museums as well as beautiful urban parks, while at the same time introducing measures to improve the health and quality of life of its poorest inhabitants. Provincial towns like Retford also benefited from the newfound national wealth and set out to mirror the larger towns and cities – a new Town Hall was built and slum areas cleared.


Retford has so much heritage that deserves protecting for future generations to enjoy. We need to ensure that Retford is an attractive town with good facilities that encourage people to visit and therefore keep the town economically viable. Gone are the days when Retford was the sole hub of a large rural community. Retford is now surrounded by other towns and cities all vying for business and most people have transport to get there to do their shopping.


To safeguard the future of Retford we need to be proud of where we live and happy to promote it, with a strong desire to protect the infrastructure and natural environment.


The Retford Civic Society has, over the years, successfully carried out a large number of heritage, restoration and community projects within Retford. These have ranged from major restoration and conservation projects to street furniture and lighting, community gardens to floral planters and litter picks.

To make Retford an attractive place to visit, the Society also organises Retford in Bloom every year, operating a hanging basket scheme in conjunction with Bassetlaw District Council, to encourage floral displays throughout the town. A front garden competition for local residents, best pub and shop flower displays, school gardening competition and best community project are all part of this.

We also present design and conservation awards for the best new buildings and conservation projects within the town.


Over the years we have learnt that partnership is the key to the successful development of projects. This includes partnership between the Civic Society, other organisations, Bassetlaw District Council, Nottinghamshire County Council, private individuals and companies. Working together ensures that local knowledge and expertise influences important decisions. We aim to promote an attractive and successful town which all can be proud of.

We need to snap out of our British reserve and appreciate and publicise the many positive points of living in and visiting Retford. We need to develop a culture of contemporary civic pride that advances much needed optimism and a future consciousness. We are good at celebrating the past, but not so good at celebrating the present and the future.


A recent survey by the Civic Society showed that people come from far and wide to experience Retford’s buildings, market and its wide variety of independent shops and retailers.

We all need to work together in partnership to promote and sell our distinctive market town. Retford, with its theatres, many cultural groups and sporting clubs, is a great place to live and work.


Further information about the Retford Civic Society can be obtained by emailing : retfordcivicsociety@hotmail.co.uk

Derek Turner – Chairman of Retford Civic Society