Barton upon Humber Tourism

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Theatre through the ages in Barton

If William Shakespeare is correct in writing “all the world’s a stage”, then that certainly seems to apply to Barton-upon-Humber, which continues to celebrate a proud tradition of theatrical performance, writes Jo Marwood.  Many venues in the town, from the historic Joseph Wright Hall to the natural landscape of Baysgarth Park, have played host to professional and amateur performances alike over the years, and 2017 is no exception.

With two family performances in Baysgarth Park already under its belt, including internationally renowned Bash Street Theatre’s “Bellevue Hotel”, and a busy schedule at Ropery Hall, the Temperance Hall (Assembly Rooms) and Joseph Wright Hall planned for autumn, the town certainly has little opportunity to pause for dramatic effect!

Entertainment in its many forms has always been an important part of Barton life.  The  North Lincolnshire Agricultural Society held its annual show in Barton 150 years ago, and locals turned out to celebrate and watch the shows and entertainment on offer.  Other parades, festivals and celebrations in the town have prompted similar excitement and participation amongst all ages and classes.  The number of public houses, inns and taverns in Barton over the decades are also testament to the town being a social hub for residents, visitors and travellers passing through.

Oddfellows’ Hall became the town’s first cinema, the “Electric Picture Theatre”, before being renamed the “New Theatre” and hosting a repertory theatre company.  The Temperance Hall on Queen Street was temporarily transformed into a nightclub, before being used for community activities including theatre rehearsals and performance.  Even the annual “Barton Ghost Walk” refers to the hidden stories, people and buildings that shape Barton’s history, with street theatre performances from the South Bank Players.

Instead of the sparkle and glamour of newer, purpose-built theatres and auditoriums, theatre in Barton is very much a part of the town’s existing historic buildings and places.  Watching a performance in the Primitive Methodist Chapel (now named the Joseph Wright Hall after its architect) is significantly more dramatic for being inside a structure built in 1867.  Similarly, joining the audience at Ropery Hall (celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2017) for theatre, cinema and comedy is more spectacular when you consider the building itself, steeped in the history and memories of Hall’s Barton Ropery.

Barton itself has been home to many a famous name in the realm of entertainment, from novelist Ted Lewis to illustrator Ken Harrison, author Henry Treece to singer Philip Pape.  Current West End actor Paul Tate, who originates from Barton, continues to return to Barton to direct theatre performances with the Friends At Barton drama group.2012-04-11 09.19.33

“Being a Bartonian means a lot to me.  Although I’ve not lived here since 1986 because of my career, I was raised here, a lot of my family still live here, and I come back every few weeks.  I have been a professional actor now since 1984 – I have my Nanna to thank for getting me interested in theatre, as she used to take me to see a lot of shows when I was a youngster!  My involvement in Barton theatre started at a very young age when I played an Ugly Sister in Cinderella at the then-called “County School”.  To this day I still play the Dame in panto every year at various theatres around the country.

“Barton theatre really took off for me when I started up at Baysgarth School (the old school and theatre is now sadly gone).  My first few years were based at the Grammar School, and I remember seeing the school show The Mikado.  I knew I wanted to be in the next performance, and when Fiddler On The Roof was announced for the 1977 show I ended up playing Reb  Nachum in it!  Other roles followed including one of the Snow children in Carousel, Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz, Kipps in Half A Sixpence, Lun Tha in The King and I and Rolf in The Sound of Music.  At the helm of these shows was the old Headmaster, Ray Smithson, alongside Alan Wright and Barrie Cooper who dealt with the music side.  I was also a member of Barton Operatics when that formed.  All of these shows gave me an insight into putting on a show and I developed so many friendships that continue today.

“I also have vague memories of rehearsing at a dilapidated house near the windmill on Waterside Road, for Barton Drama Club.  They did shows at The Assembly Rooms and I can recall seeing one of their shows at The Oxford Cinema on Newport.

FAB ACC 2 “Theatre in Barton has been a very big part of my life, and I am happy to say that it still is.  Last year I formed the group Friends At Barton (FAB for short), made up of old school friends and people I know from the shows I was involved in.  Last December was our first show and we performed A Christmas Carol at The Joseph Wright Hall on Queen Street.  We sold out completely and it was a huge success!  For some people, it was the first time they had been in the building and they were pleasantly surprised at how much like a theatre it was.  I directed that show, and this year our December show will be the magical Hans Christian Andersen fairytale The Snow Queen.  Not only will I be directing this show but I will also be performing – my first show in Barton for over 30 years!

“In my career I have been lucky to work with many celebrities and appear in national tours, TV and West End. The saying goes that ”there’s no place like home” and to be honest, there isn’t.  I love being back amongst friends and will do my best to keep Barton theatre alive and thriving.  I am also honoured to be a part of keeping the Joseph Wright Hall in use, as it’s such a historic building.

“There are so many people working behind the scenes to make Barton a better place, and if I can be a small part of that, then all well and good.  The support of the people of Barton and the surrounding villages means a lot.”

During the summer holidays, two further “Performance in the Park” shows are scheduled – Illyria Theatre will be performing its adaption of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” on Sunday, August 13, and The Storytellers Theatre Company will perform “The Wizard of Oz” on Sunday, August 27.  Both events are free of charge and a great family afternoon out in the fantastic natural backdrop of Baysgarth Park. Find out more on the Barton Tourism Partnership website here:

From October, tickets will be available for the latest Friends At Barton performance of “The Snow Queen”, based in the enchanting Joseph Wright Hall and directed by Paul Tate.  Keep an eye on the Wilderspin National School Museum website for tickets here:

Finally,  Ropery Hall is gearing up for its upcoming season of theatre, comedy, film, music and more – check out the programme here


In an ever-changing world of social media and celebrity culture, the nostalgia of theatre, performance and entertainment is a welcome and constant feature of Barton-upon-Humber – as relevant, magical and exciting today as in decades past.


Wildlife Day at the Waters’ Edge Visitor Centre and Country Park

This coming Sunday, July 30, the Waters’ Edge Visitor Centre and Country Park is giving everyone the opportunity to get out and enjoy their local countryside while learning about the wildlife that calls it home.  The park will be hosting its biggest event of the year; a family focused, activity filled Wildlife Day. To get involved and support local wildlife, just pop along to the Waters’ Edge in Barton between 10am and 5pm on Sunday. Most events are free and it’s a great day out.

Special events will be taking place throughout the day, all over the country park and the centre itself for children and adults alike. See noble birds of prey in all their airborne glory, watch really wild drama courtesy of Rhubarb Theatre, go bug hunting, make pottery snails and garden plaques in the Activity Zone and learn about bees, woodlands, flowers and natural medicines during a range of walks and talks throughout the day. Continue reading »

The ‘Big Daddy‘ of Bike Nights

After 20 years of burning rubber and shiniBBNng chrome, Barton’s annual Bike Night has become as much a part of the fabric that makes up Barton-upon-Humber as the town’s roads or houses. A gold star day in the diaries of bikers around Lincolnshire and beyond, the night draws more than 15,000 people to town from as far away as Holland and Cornwall to enjoy all things two wheeled.

In anticipation of this year’s Bike Night on Saturday, July 8, we talked to organiser, Barrie Newton about the history, the memories, and the excitement behind the event.  He didn’t mince his words.

“It’s the big one,” he told me.  “The others are all great and I go to many of them, but it’s the big daddy of them all.  It’s the biggest public show of bikes in the area and a meeting of bikers and like-minded people and a really big family friendly night.  It’s exceptional that the town accommodates Bike Night. No other town can accommodate Bike Night how Barton can. It’s a right proper community event.”

Everyone associated with Bike Night is delighted with its positive community status. Barrie is no exception, as he explained to me; “On the night, the town’s buzzing and it’s a very safe environment. We’re very proud of that. From old age pensioners to little two and three-year-old kiddies, there’s something for everyone.

“We’re very happy that there’s a lot of people get the benefit from it. The school and church (St Augustine Webster) do parking, the churches do helmet storage and jacket storage and do tea and coffees. The charity shops do wonderful as well. They get all of the biking stuff they’ve collected up over the year and they sell it off on Bike Night and they have a right good evening.”

The Wilderspin National School Museum on Queen Street will also be running a helmet store from the Joseph Wright Hall, next door to the School Museum

Bike Night has been about the bikers working with the local Barton community from the start.

Barrie told me: “Initially, before 1997, there wasn’t much going on in the town. Brigg was running a successful bike night, so a friend of mine called Malcolm Bennett rang the lads who were running that event and he got the information to start Barton Bike Night … it was really to get the town noticed, get the town on the map and get some revenue and visitors in to the town. And initially, we had 2000 bikes come to the first night, and it’s just gone from strength to strength to become a real popular night on the bikers’ calendar.”

As Barrie has been there right from the beginning, I asked him what some of his fondest memories of Bike Night were; ““What I like to see is smiling faces, happy kids and elderly people. There’s a club in Winterton, The Jubilee Club, and for the pensioners there it’s the main outing of the year for them, and some are disabled and they all come over and have a pint and have a right good evening of it.  It’s that sort of thing that keeps me doing it.”

Of course, in this history blog we couldn’t forget the two-wheeled, chrome clad time machines that are the classic bikes on show down Queen Street.

Barrie explained how amazingly popular they are: “We’ve got people restoring classic bikes just to show on Bike Night. It’s happened many-a-year. And It’s real popular with all ages. It never ceases to amaze me how popular classic stuff is. So that’s great, it’s a good crowd puller, and a great bunch of people as well. A lot of old people, they all meet up and have a good chin-wag as well.”

Barton’s 21st Bike Night looks set to keep up these great traditions, with a few thrills thrown in for good measure, so be there on Saturday to avoid missing out.  The free event starts at 4pm and is scheduled to end at 9pm.


The Sounds of the Humber – from concrete to opera

Photo credit: David Lund Photo credit: David Lund

The gentle hum of traffic crossing the Humber Bridge has provided a backdrop to the lapping of water, chirruping of wading birds and wind tickling the rushes since it first opened to traffic 36 years ago tomorrow, and this year marks 40 years since the cable spinning began to connect those two iconic towers writes Jo Marwood.

From the first “Humber Bridge Act” of 1959, to the official opening by Her Majesty The Queen in 1981, residents on both sides of the Humber closely observed its construction as the longest single-span suspension bridge in the world.  Indeed, the Humber Bridge enjoyed this accolade for 17 years, until Japan’s Akashi Kaiky? Bridge opened in April 1998. Continue reading »

Sue Wilsea on The Fathom Writers’ Showcase and the Local Literary Scene

Next Wednesday at 7.30pm, local writers of all levels, ages and backgrounds will be reading their work to the people of Barton in the Ropery Hall bar.  This is all down to the Fathom Writers’ Showcase, a free event organised by Sue Wilsea so that her students can unveil their work to the public.

Past Forward project worker Jamie Smith spoke to Sue about the showcase. Continue reading »

A Big Thank You on National Volunteers’ Week

This volunteers-week-logo-2017National Volunteers’ Week, we want to say thank you to all the volunteers who keep Barton-upon-Humber’s heritage and history institutions running, as well as all of the others who give up their time to keep our town alive and colourful.  Without these people, Barton’s rich and interesting past would remain hidden. From museums like Baysgarth House and the Wilderspin National School, to natural and cultural sites like the Far Ings National Nature Reserve and The Ropewalk, much of our town’s heritage is kept alive by such volunteers.

So, what does volunteering in Barton involve?  In Barton’s museums, volunteers do a great job while meeting all kinds of new people, greeting visitors at reception, showing them around, installing new exhibitions, hosting a range of special events, and really becoming a part of the museum community. Continue reading »

Rex Russell Exhibition at Baysgarth House Museum

Baysgarth House Museum has dedicated its latest exhibition to local historian and educator Rex Russell, who is known to have revived archaeology and historical study in the Barton area over the second half of the twentieth century.

The exhibition sums up the life, work and discoveries of one of Barton’s most interesting characters and one of its most prolific scholars stimulatingly and thoroughly. The exhibition is elementary enough and interesting enough to engage those who are unfamiliar with the man and his work, while still having the depth to arouse interest in those who are more au fait with him. Continue reading »

A New Chapter for Bardney Hall

The warm spring sunshine catches the gold lettering of “Bardney Hall” on the wrought iron gates that mark the entrance to this historic and beautiful house in Barton-upon-Humber writes Jo Marwood.  Bardney Hall is a Grade II listed Queen Anne house, and boasts a number of fine architectural features, frills and follies indicative of the town’s growing prosperity during the 18th century.

DSC_0034Originally built as a private residence for William Gildas in the early 1700s, Bardney Hall now offers boutique bed and breakfast accommodation.  It is partially concealed from Whitecross Street by evergreen shrubbery, but once inside the grounds it is hard not to be seduced by the spectacular facade, expertly-landscaped gardens and sumptuous decor on offer. Continue reading »

Contact Details

Tourist Information
Telephone: 01652 631500

Barton Town Council
Telephone: 01652 633598

Barton-upon-Humber Tourism Partnership
Telephone: 01652 660380