Heritage project praised by local author

2:45 pm, Tuesday, 17th March 2020

A CLEETHORPES-born author was back in her hometown for a visit, during which she praised a major project to protect the resort’s historic structures and landmarks.

Spearheaded by a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant of almost £2m, with a further £1m from North East Lincolnshire Council, and around £900k of third-party match funding from the grantees, the £3.8m scheme is progressing with work on individual projects continuing.

These include the renovation and of traditional shop fronts, replacing modern shop fronts for traditional, along Sea View Street and Alexandra Road, the unique Victorian balconies, and the future use of the former Empire Theatre.

To explain the ‘Townscape Heritage Project’ to visitors and passers-by, boards have been erected in the windows of Number 41 Alexandra Road where the owners are discussing possible renovation grant support with project managers.

Helping to promote the scheme and returning to Cleethorpes to see the continuing regeneration was writer Tracy Baines. Tracy combined the visit to promote her new novel with a tour of the resort and was updated on the heritage plans by ENGIE project manager Carol Heidschuster. ENGIE is managing the programme on behalf of North East Lincolnshire Council.

Tracy is the daughter of the late Tommy Lee and his wife Joan who were best known for creating the popular Sands Club, in Cleethorpes, which in its heyday attracted some of the best cabaret acts in the UK. Regulars there included Talli Halliday, Mia Carla and Dougie James – whose famous sons are former Coronation Street star Ryan Thomas, Emmerdale actor Adam Thomas and Love Island personality Scott Thomas.

Tracy grew up with music halls in her heart – the venues managed by her mum and dad were her childhood playgrounds and one of her first jobs was at The Pier where, as assistant stage manager she looked after stars such as The Nolan Sisters. She met her husband Neil when he appeared on the same bill as the famous Irish sisters as one half of the sibling entertainment duo Nicholas and Nickelby.

Now living in Dorset, Tracy uses images and memories of the resort in her first novel, The Variety Girls, which was published last month.

“You have got to be proud of where you come from, and I am certainly proud of Cleethorpes. Where-ever I go in the country I also meet people who love the resort and have fond memories of it,” said Tracy.

“To me it will always be very, very special and I am thrilled to be able to use the town as an inspiration for my writing. It is great to be here today to hear of the plans to protect and restore the structures that truly make it a great place to be,” she added.

Townscape Heritage is one arm of the major regeneration works that are currently underway in Cleethorpes and include the North Prom art works with the creation of the White Palm and walking art gallery, the redevelopment of the Waves site, and large-scale street scene improvements. These works are funded by the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership (HLEP) Local Growth Fund, the Coastal Communities Fund (CCF), the Local Transport Plan (LTP), and North East Lincolnshire Council.

The council’s Head of Regeneration and Deputy Leader Cllr John Fenty said: “It’s great to hear how people such as Tracy are regularly returning to the resort and seeing the benefit of the work we are doing here. Cleethorpes is the jewel in the crown of our east coast and we wish to develop it as an even more attract seaside town that values its heritage.”

If you have a business along Alexandra Road or Sea View Street and want to know more about the Townscape Heritage project and possible grants please email: carol.heid@nelincs.gov.uk.