Halesworth's high street heroes

PUBLISHED: 03:38 25 March 2012 | UPDATED: 21:13 20 February 2013

Halesworth's high street heroes

Halesworth's high street heroes

Claire Holmes explores the wonderful stores that make this north Suffolk market town so special

Claire Holmes explores the wonderful stores that make this north Suffolk market town so special

A little piece of social history

Nestled at the top of the high street, near the library, Bluebird Vintage houses an eclectic collection of vintage clothing and accessories, including bags, hats, jewellery and the odd piece of homeware.

Owner Laura Churchill lived in London before moving to Suffolk and opening her own shop in 2010. As well as moving home and starting her own business, Laura also got married in the same year. It was quite an epic year for me, she laughs.

Despite setting up in a difficult economic climate, Laura is pleased with the way its going. She is part of Halesworths town centre group and has also been instrumental in setting up a local W.I. group.

The people in Halesworth are fantastic and so supportive, she says. Im really lucky here too as there are lots of people with some incredible things in their attic.

Among other delights, one local lady recently brought in a wedding dress from the 1960s an item that Laura has just sold to a new bride-to-be.

The two brides plan to swap photos of their different wedding days and its obvious that Laura loves being involved in this.

Its really nice to have that continuation, she says. Its like a piece of social history.

I like to think Im championing vintage clothes, she adds. Its about recycling and reusing and its great for your wallet too.

Bluebird Vintage, The Hawk Inn,
Bridge Street, Halesworth, IP19 8AD.
Tel: 01986 875325.


Carrying on a tradition

Photographs dating back to the beginning of the century hang on the wall in Allens Butchers, but there has actually been a butcher on the site for around 200 years.

Kevin Allen has owned the shop for 16 years, although he first started working there in 1989.

The ethos behind the store is to provide good quality meat sourced from local farms, thereby giving local people local food.

As well as free range chicken, pork loins and steaks, Kevin stocks local cheeses, juices, olive oil, chutneys and much more.

There are around 15 different varieties of sausages on offer too all made on the premises and thought up by the staff. Among others, there are pork and garlic sausages, varieties made of venison, those using Adnams and Kevins favourite spring onion and ginger sausages.

In the past 18 months, Kevin has started to stock a lot more ready to eat and ready to cook products, like stuffed chicken breast or marinated chicken sticks.

People see so much of what they like in supermarkets and recipe books and we try to offer the same, he says.

Kevin is proud of the fact his produce is as local as possible. While Im there, he points out some beef that has been sourced from a farm five miles away and adds that the apple juice has only travelled three to four miles to his shelves.

Allens Butchers, 2 Market Place, Halesworth IP19 8BA
Tel: 01986 872132

From typewriter ribbons to USB sticks

There may not be many people who still use a typewriter, require treasury tags or need to send a fax but for those that do Halesworth Stationers is invaluable.

Owners Keith and Maria Wright will be celebrating their tenth year in the town this year.

What appealed to us was the fact it was a market town full of independent shops with a beautiful thoroughfare and only ten miles from the coast, Keith says. Its a town with a village atmosphere

Its not just traditional stationery the pair stock they can provide computer accessories such as USB sticks and ink jet cartridges, wedding stationery, cards and gift wrap and can even order office furniture for you. Theres an arts and crafts section for local artists too.

We do everything you expect a proper stationers to do, Keith explains. Were traditional with a modern twist.

When I walk in, Maria is busy showing a customer one of the latest stationery inventions a specially designed pen which helps people with arthritis or hand injuries by helping take the weight of your hand.

The reason people use us is because we offer a friendly and efficient service, Keith explains. Our customers are greeted by a hello and a smile and thats really important to us.

Halesworth Stationers, 57 Thoroughfare, Halesworth,
IP19 8AR Tel: 01986 873742

Like mother, like daughter

Its not often that three generations from the same family work together but at the Bay Tree Bistro, mum, daughter and grandmother all have their own roles.

Owner Kim Hart manages the bistro and whips up many of the delicious dishes herself while her daughter Sacha Cox takes on the role of assistant manager.

Ive been cooking ever since I was little, Kim explains. My mum would put me on a stool with a cake mix while she did the cooking.

And it seems her daughter was destined to follow in her footsteps.

Shes got it in her blood, Kim says, adding that at the age of five Sacha was cooking roast dinners with her seven-year-old sister.

Kims mum Brenda Smy also has an important role to play in serving the customers, with many coming in simply to see her.

But its not just the staff that attracts people to the bistro.

The menu has a mouth-watering collection of delights ranging from a bacon sandwich and hot steak and stilton baguette to Thai steak and pepper curry with rice and pan-fried calves liver. There are also daily specials to choose from.

Kim and her team use produce from the local butchers and greengrocers and can cater for gluten-free diets and vegetarians.

The menu is available all day, so customers really do have plenty of choice. In fact, Sacha recounts the story of one customer who had steak for dinner and then came in for steak at breakfast on the following day!

The Bay Tree Bistros special themed nights get everyone along the high street talking too.

Theyve hosted a mad tea party, an Elvis Presley night and a 1940s themed evening complete with blackout, sandbags and taped-up windows. And in April the bistro will be hosting a special Titanic themed night, where Kim will be raising money for the RNLI.

The Bay Tree Bistro, 6 Thoroughfare, Halesworth, IP19 8AH. Tel: 01986 874 119. www.baytreebistro.co.uk

The perfect picture

As a painter and photographer, Mary Gundry and Colin Huggins of The Little Gallery are always on the hunt for the perfect picture.

They say never work with animals or children, but Mary and Colin have done both.

Mary is perhaps best known for her paintings of children on the beach, and while Colin mainly takes photos of the local area, he has also just started to offer a pet portrait service.

They opened their gallery in Halesworth in 2008 and exhibit their own work, as well as bronzes and ceramics made by other artists.

Whatever your budget, theres something for you be it a postcard, a print, a framed photograph or a 4,000 bronze horse head.

There are a lot of nice things to take photos of around here, Colin says. Often if people are on holiday or have a holiday home here, they like to buy something to hang on their wall at home to remind them of the place.

The gallery also hosts exhibitions four times a year. The current exhibition (which runs until March 10) showcases Anthony Lays acrylic work and Rosemary Carruthers oil paintings and mixed media.

Colin and Mary enjoy being part of the Halesworths community and are actively involved in arranging events in and around the town.

There are so many towns around full of the same shops everywhere. Here, youve got none of that nearly all the shops on the high street are independently owned and I think thats what people like, Colin says.

The Little Gallery, 5 Market Place, Halesworth IP19 8BA.
Tel: 01986 875367.

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