What a difference a couple of years can make in the fortunes of a town like Clitheroe.
Back in 2011, Market Place looked a tad on the depressed side, but look at it now as we approach Christmas 2014.
National retailer Fat Face has taken over The Victoria pub – a listed town centre building – which looks so much better now it’s being given the tender loving care it needs.
And, as I reported in last week’s front page story, two other empty shops in Market Place could also soon be occupied, transforming Clitheroe town centre into the thriving hub it once was.
Christmas trees adorn most of the town’s shops and businesses and there is a packed diary of community events to look forward to.
It was a real pleasure to write such a good news story for last week’s paper as, all too often, particularly during the economically challenged past few years, local shopkeepers and businesses have had to work harder than ever to remain successful.
On a monthly basis, almost, there seemed to be a report about the demise of local town centres, with conversations locally obsessed with how many businesses had bitten the bullet.
For those on the frontline, it must have seemed like a demoralising uphill struggle from behind their counters.
But, as the president of Clitheroe Chamber of Trade, Tony Gould, comments, it is through his members’ continued hard work and determination, plus fresh initiatives such as Clitheroe Christmas Festival, that confidence is once again building in the town.
Supported along the way by Ribble Valley Borough Council and the larger local businesses such as Ultraframe giving back to the town, it feels like there is renewed sense of optimism and vigour.
National retailers like Fat Face admit Clitheroe is an appealing prospect with its plethora of independent shops and the history surrounding our market town.
Overused clichés such as “the green shoots of recovery” may fit, but that description omits how much work has been done behind closed doors to make people like me, proud of their home town.
Enjoying the crisp winter air during a stroll down Castle Street this week it was refreshing to see The Vic’s windows were no longer boarded up and the Fat Face signs erected.
Let’s hope this new businesses flourishes and attracts more people to the smaller independent shops in town.