Brigg - 'The Gateway to the Lincolnshire Wolds' - has plenty to offer visitors who use the iconic former Manchester, Sheffield & Lincolnshire Railway mainline to come to town by train on Saturdays. Attractions include niche shops, markets, eateries of various kinds, a wide range of pubs, and historic buildings.
It's easy to find your way around the historic market town once you leave the railway station. Just use the tall parish church and the nearby Buttercross building with its landmark clock tower and weather vane (pictured above, second row, left) as points of reference; both are in the heart of the town centre.
Leave the station and make your way down to the end of the approach road. You will see a metal signpost, pictured below, on which Brigg Town Business Partnership has a box offering free printed guides. Please take one.
Rather than follow the finger post pointing towards the town centre along Bigby Street (which has few shops) our advice is to go STRAIGHT AHEAD, using the zebra crossing adjoining the Nisa Local shop. Walk down Queen Street (seen to the right of the picture above) and when it ends you will see Wetherspoon's White Horse pub. Turn left and the main shopping area is ahead of you. It is pedestrianised, adding to the shopping experience. At average walking speed it will take only seven minutes to get from the platform to the heart of the town centre.
Brigg is proud of its wide range of niche shops - many being operated by small, independent traders.
The Rabbit Hole Bookshop, in the Market Place, adjoining the clock tower, is a must for visitors, offering a large selection of new and second-hand books. It has many volumes of local interest. Author Ted Lewis, from North Lincolnshire, wrote the book on which cult 'Brit noir' crime film Get Carter (1971), starring Michael Caine, was based. Ted, whose father ran a quarry near Brigg, went on location with the actors during filming, in an advisory role.
Wallhead's Outfitters, on Wrawby Street, provides quality clothing for men and women, and was established by the family in the 1890s.
Directly opposite, and close to Wetherspoon's, is spacious Brian's DIY (also family run). Much more than a hardware store, it includes a cycle sales & repair shop and Santa's Attic during the festive season, offering a range of Christmas goods and gifts.
Many niche shops are based in courtyards off Wrawby Street within the pedestrian zones. Some alleys have metal arches pointing the way. Be sure to visit College Yard, near the clock tower, which has its own eatery; it's businesses are helpfully listed on a sign at the entrance.
In the wide Market Place, close to the grade two listed 1930s red telephone box, is Pastimes - offering arts, crafts, puzzles and kit models.
There are various specialist clothes shops and boutiques, and even a goldsmith, Guy Whitney, in the Market Place.
Brigg's Oxfam charity book shop, on Wrawby Street, is also well worth a browse with bargain buys available covering many genre.
Brigg gained its market charter in the early 13th century when the town developed as a crossing point on the River Ancholme.
Award-winning Brigg Farmers' Market is very popular and held on the FOURTH SATURDAY each month (except for December when this may change because of Christmas). It begins at 9.30am and continues well into the afternoon. Items on offer from its wide range of stalls include bread, cakes, pies, cheese, jam and (often) locally-brewed bottled beer. Fast food is also available. Brigg Farmers' Market was established in 2000 and among its early VIP visitors was actor John Savident, who played butcher Fred in TV 'soap' Coronation Street. "I say, Coronation Street!" A smaller general market operates every Saturday.
BRIGG GARDEN CENTRE
People come from right across Lincolnshire, Yorkshire and the North Midlands to spend a day touring this vast emporium on the outskirts of the town, which offers general shopping in addition to items for gardening enthusiasts. It has a spacious restaurant and a wide range of gifts, clothing, toys, food, books and other goods.
At the time of writing, the No 92 Brigg Service Bus is operating from outside the Wilko store on Cary Lane, off the Market Place, to the Garden Centre at 10am, departing at 1.20pm to bring people back into the town centre. We advise double-checking the bus times when you plan a visit. Use https://www.geopunk.co.uk/timetables or another online provider of bus service information.
The centre is 25 minutes walk from the railway station, or hire a local taxi. One business has an office next to the bus stop; there's another nearby on Elwes Street. If you decide to walk, head from the station to the end of the approach road near the council offices (pictured above) then turn right onto Albert Street. When it ends you will see the railway line ahead. Go over the level crossing onto Bigby High Road and keep walking. Having passed the new Pingley housing development, cross the road (A1084) and the Garden Centre is only 100 yards away on your right.
WHERE TO EAT
The town has a varied selection to offer visitors - eat in or takeaway, in addition to those pubs which provide food menus (see the section below).
The Deli & Diner, on Wrawby Street, is particularly popular for breakfasts but also does a full range of meals. If you call in, admire the range of pictures from the past on display, recalling the era when this building was a pub/hotel.
The popular Cafe Courtyard, adjoining the main entrance to the Angel building off the Market Place, is housed in what was once the hotel's vine-adorned coffee and tea terrace, with extensive glass roof above offering natural light.
Shipley's CuriosiTeas, on Wrawby Street, is a traditional tea shop - licensed to serve wine with its sandwiches and cakes.
Costa Coffee is located midway along Wrawby Street, offering food as well as drinks.
The Steel Rooms, near the County Bridge, offer a fine range of cafe meals in addition to gifts, crafts and art galleries.
Brigg being only 22 miles from Grimsby, it's unsurprising that fish is a local favourite. Scalinis (near the Buttercross) and The Hungry Fisherman, in Coney Court (accessed through an archway off the Market Place) both have sit-down restaurant facilities as well as offering a takeaway service. The same applies at YellowBelly Pizza, in the Market Place - Lincolnshire residents being nicknamed Yellowbellies because of colourful uniforms once worn by the county's own army regiment.
The Loft Restaurant on Wrawby Street (above the Grandad's Shed shop) offers a good range of meals and snacks.
Sandwich shops include Cooplands and Teasdales - both on Wrawby Street - and Dunham's on Bridge Street (established 1899).
Lincolnshire sausages being one of the county's most famous products, pick up a supply to take home and eat later by calling at one of Brigg town centre's butchers - Mundey's, Newell's, Spelman's and Barnard's. Also inquire about haslet and pork pies. Plum bread is another county delicacy available at various outlets.
Brigg is renowned in Lincolnshire for its range of hostelries - all offering something a little bit different.
The Dying Gladiator, near the church on Bigby Street and pictured in the montage above, is the only pub in the UK to bear this name, and features a sizeable statue of a wounded warrior above its entrance. A mid-19th century owner/landlord, who was also a builder and craftsman, was inspired by statues he saw while undertaking a 'Grand Tour' of Europe which took in Italy and the Vatican.
National pub giant J D Wetherspoon came to town a few years ago to transform the 18th century White Horse, on Wrawby Street, into a vast pub/restaurant offering budget-priced drinks and meals. It is Brigg's most visited hostelry, with additional outdoor seating at the front and rear.
The Black Bull, established in 1820 on Wrawby Street, is now a popular Craft Union sports bar. Be sure to take a look at the beer garden with its palm trees and Spanish-style cabanas (huts with seating and TVs inside).
Admiral Taverns' Britannia Inn, near the Monument war memorial at the end of Wrawby Street, is the nearest pub to the railway station. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries it was owned by a Brigg brewery whose tall tower survives today as residential accommodation. You can view it, over a pint, from the beer garden at the back of The Brit.
Real ale enthusiasts are recommended to try the Yarborough Hunt, on Bridge Street - 100 yards beyond the County Bridge. It is operated by Lincolnshire Craft Beers and stocks ales made near Brigg at a brewery which uses Wolds spring water.
The Lord Nelson Hotel, adjoining the Buttercross, belongs to Yorkshire's Old Mill Brewery and stocks hand-pulled ales made in Snaith. It also offers a wide range of meals, plus tea/coffee and snacks in spacious surroundings.
The Woolpack, in the Market Place, is an 18th century residential hostelry where pool is popular and budget snacks are available on request. It has a pavement licence (granted September 2020) which allows customers to use tables and chairs (shaded by a parasol) outside its frontage.
Founded in 1920, Brigg Servicemen's Club - sizeable licensed premises on Coney Court - can be accessed via College Yard, Cary Lane or Coney Court and welcomes visitors.
Brigg has a long-established beer festival held in mid-May, which includes a full-day session on Saturdays. Search 'Brigg Beer Festival' on the web for future dates and details.
BUILDINGS OF NOTE
Brigg's entire town centre is a Conservation Area, which has helped to preserve historic buildings.
The Buttercross dates back to 1819, while the landmark Angel building (also in the Market Place), with its distinctive black and white frontage, started out as a 16th century coaching house before becoming a large hotel. In the early 1990s it was acquired by the local council and converted to office and community use.
The Exchange Coach House Inn building, on Bigby Street, dates back to 1760 and is grade two* (star) listed. It was formerly a gentlemen's club. Prime Minister Winston Churchill stayed there during the Second World War, prior to D-Day - and the bedroom and the bed he used are still there today!
The County Bridge (grade two listed) was constructed in 1828 to replace one from the 17th century.
St John's Parish Church (Victorian Gothic style) has entrances from Wrawby Street and Bigby Street and may be open to visitors on farmers' market Saturdays with refreshments available in the adjoining Church Hall, The church has some fine stained glass windows.
The Coopland's bakery shop - near the church's Wrawby Street entrance - has Arts & Crafts/Dutch influences, rare in Brigg.
The town's sole grade one listed building is just a short walk from the town centre. Cross the A18 by using the pelican crossing near Wetherspoon's White Horse and follow the footpath for 200 yards into Grammar School Road. You will come to the oldest part of today's Sir John Nelthorpe School - the town's original school room, opened circa 1679. This formed part of Brigg Grammar School until 1976 when comprehensive education was introduced. This building is not open to the public on Saturdays but its architecture can be admired from the road. The original doorway is at the side and carries a Latin inscription and date on its stonework.
BRIGG HERITAGE CENTRE
Located within the Angel building and offering free admission, its showpiece is a prehistoric wooden raft unearthed in the town near the river. Various displays at the centre outline the town's rich history. Volunteers input valuable 'local knowledge' to the exhibitions.
NATIONAL RETAILERS & CASHPOINTS
Brigg has a good range of stores/shops for a market town of its size - Tesco, Wilko, Martins (newsagent), Boots, Costa Coffee, Lidl and Aldi (store opening late September 2020). Town centre cashpoints are available at Martins, Lloyds Bank, Wilko and Barclays.
Brigg Fair is a famous early 20th century rhapsody by classical composer Frederic Delius - still featuring in concerts across the world. It was based on a traditional Lincolnshire folk song performed at Brigg Music Festival in the early 1900s by a local man. In the early 13th century, Brigg gained royal assent for annual fairs. Brigg Horse Fair is held in early August (usually the 5th) on land adjoining the railway station. Steeds and brought and sold by members of the gypsy/traveller community.
Famous 'Briggensians' include the actress Joan Plowright (Lady Olivier) who was born in the town in a house on Central Square which is still evident today. Journalist David Yelland, who was educated in Brigg, went on to become a national newspaper editor with The Sun.
Ian Marlow, a rugby league international with Wales who played for Hull RFC and Wakefield Trinity, also went to school in the town, as did Guy Martin, motor-cycle racer and now TV series presenter. He lives locally.
After the railway had linked Sheffield with Brigg in the late 1840s, anglers from Yorkshire began to visit the town in increasing numbers, some staying in bed and breakfast accommodation at local pubs over several days.
The River Ancholme in Brigg is still very well used by anglers today - in matches or on their own.
The Springs Stretch (named after a former jam factory) near the County Bridge offers up large pike from time to time (example above).
Brigg also has a closed water facility - Smithy's Pond - available to visitors on a day ticket basis. It's within walking distance of the town centre along Bridge Street and then Island Carr Road (turn off at the mini-roundabout near Aldi).
Smithy's Pond - call 01652 653940 - has its own on-site eatery, Harrison's Hideaway, and a tackle shop, if you fancy combining a visit to Brigg by train with a spot of relaxing fishing.
WALKS AND CYCLE RIDES
The River Ancholme, which runs north from the Lincoln area to the mighty Humber, was once an important commercial and passenger highway but is now used purely for leisure by canoeists, paddle-boarders, rowers and pleasure craft owners.
The Ancholme Valley Way footpath and cycle way runs north from Brigg towards the estuary. Public seating is provided alongside the river in Brigg town centre for some distance beyond the bridge. Take a pleasant walk along the former towpath once used by shire horses pulling barges of coal and grain, keeping an eye out for herons, kingfishers and birds of prey. Or inquire about bringing your cycle with you on the train and take a ride north for several miles. Spanning the Ancholme to the north of Brigg is a very early suspension bridge at Horkstow, which is a pretty village within the Lincolnshire Wolds.
Brigg Town Football Club is within walking distance of the railway station, allowing Saturday visitors by train to take in a first team match in the ToolStation Northern Counties East League or watch the Reserves in the Balcan Lighting Supplies Lincolnshire League Premier. The Hawthorns is a very well-appointed and floodlit venue with a licensed clubhouse and Pips Kitchen serving meals and snacks. There is also a family play area with slides and swings for youngsters to enjoy - free of charge. To get to The Hawthorns from Station Road, use the zebra crossing near the Nisa Local shop, proceed down Queen Street, cross the A18 via the pelican crossing and turn right. Follow the footpath to the left at the Monument war memorial roundabout and keep walking along Wrawby Road (passing the school) until you reach the Recreation Ground (opposite the cemetery). Turn left to Brigg Town FC which is one of the oldest clubs in the world, having been formed in 1864.
AT YOUR CONVENIENCE
Brigg has two sets of free-to-use public conveniences in the town centre - on Cary Lane (off the Market Place) adjoining the Wilko store, and on East Park - close to the Monument war memorial roundabout and the Britannia Inn.
Brigg has an award-winning Tourist Information Centre in the town centre where staff will be happy to advise. Many informative booklets and leaflets are available, and it sells a range of souvenirs.
You can find out more about the town by visiting Brigg Blog (established 2007) which is updated daily. The full back catalogue of posts can be searched through Google if there's any particular topic you wish to know more about.
We hope to see you in Brigg after you arrive by train to spend a day here.