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Rail group hopes Mayflower celebrations can help new train service attract bigger numbers to Gainsborough

The new clock built by volunteers at Gainsborough Lea Road station
The new clock built by volunteers at Gainsborough Lea Road station

To adapt Harold Macmillan’s famous speech the wind of change is blowing through our corner of England, writes Barry Coward.

The announcement last week that Bassetlaw Council has been successful in securing Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) funding for the Pilgrim Roots Project will have a positive and lasting effect on Gainsborough as well as north Nottinghamshire.

Come 2020 and Mayflower 400, significant numbers of Americans will want to visit places associated with their Pilgrim Fathers who sailed in the Mayflower in 1620.

Foremost among the locations they will visit is the area which gave birth to the Separatist movement, now branded the Pilgrim Roots area, basically Retford and sourrounding villages , Austerfield near Bawtry and Gainsborough Old Hall.

The HLF funding will allow Bassetlaw council to employ two officers to tell the story of the pilgrims’ journey.

The heritage engagement officer will visit schools and groups across the pilgrim roots area equipped with dressing up costumes, learning boxes and lesson programmes to increase knowledge and pride in the Separatist part of the Mayflower story.

The heritage support officer will act as an intermediary, working with tour operators and individual visitors to ensure churches are open, tour guides organised, transport arranged and hotel and restaurant facilities booked.

The North Notts and Lincs Community Rail Partnership (NNLCRP) will also employ an officer who will work in partnership with the new Bassetlaw officers to ensure visitors are attracted to this area.

But attracting visitors does not stop with Mayflower 400.

If all goes well the delayed introduction of hourly trains between Sheffield and Gainsborough Central will start next year.

The extra numbers arriving at Gainsborough Central should increase the footfall in the town and the new service will also be attractive to businesses and people looking to live in Gainsborough.

The NNLCRP is now seeking someone to fill the part-time role of community rail officer.

Details can be found at www.west-lindsey.gov.uk/my-council/jobs/view-all-wldc-job- vacancies/

Meanwhile the Lea Road Station volunteers have built a unique station clock.

It was the railways that standardised time in Britain.

Before the advent of railways, time varied from place to place but the railways needed time to be the same everywhere.