At Marketing Lancashire we’re privileged to encounter or work with an astonishing array of creative and ‘cool’ businesses, in our place-marketing role. Each day brings opportunities whether that’s from an inspiring new business start-up, a maturing partnership or a chance encounter that offers great development possibilities for further defining Lancashire’s pride of place in the world.
There is no questioning Lancashire’s heritage as the birthplace of the industrial revolution and, at our core, we remain a county of creators and makers, innovators and entrepreneurs who contribute to a ‘Cool Britannia’.
For one, we continue to lead and inspire through our manufacturing, whether that’s in aerospace or automotive, textiles and wallcovering, the things we eat and drink or spend our leisure time doing – you’ll find Lancashire is still creating a buzz.
In recent weeks, through our Lancashire Ambassadors programme, I’ve heard more about the key role BAE is playing in the development of the UK’s future combat aircraft Tempest, with its ‘virtual cockpit’ and of Chorley’s Scorpion Automotive, winning world recognition for manufacture and supply of vehicle security and telematics. This information exchange, with some of Lancashire’s leading private sector CEOs and MDs, enables us to share more about these pioneering businesses whenever and wherever we have the chance to champion this incredible county.
Towards the end of last year Blackburn-based Graham & Brown, one of the largest independent wallpaper manufacturers in Britain, caught public attention when the company released its first TV advertising campaign in 15 years; showing a curated collection of opulent wall coverings and paints, to inspire stylish homemakers. It certainly reminded us of the successful style influencer and important employer we have our doorstep. They, along with a number of other Lancashire creative brands, have contributed to the development of one of the county’s most dynamic and trendsetting events, The National Festival of Making which takes place in and around Blackburn.
The annual National Festival of Making has sprung from Lancashire’s flair for design and manufacture and the people’s ready ability to adapt to and embrace new technologies. It is ‘a unique celebration of UK making, ‘from the factory floor to the kitchen table’ that has seen the likes of Graham & Brown, Silentnight, Panaz, Roach Bridge Tissues, WEC and many more, involved in commissions and projects that brought creativity into the heart of the town and into the imaginations and hands of it’s many thousands of visitors. As well as festival organisers Deco Publique winning the Lancashire Tourism Award for Cultural Organisation in 2019, the Festival of Making was named best non-music festival in the 2018 UK Festival Awards, alongside the likes of the perhaps more familiar Download, Parklife and Kendal Calling festivals. As a county we have a strong music festival culture too with Lytham Festival, the Great British Rhythm & Blues Festival and Lancaster Music Festival amongst the most popular. Plus our more ‘boutique’ style events find their way onto festival hot lists; the likes of Beat Herder held near Clitheroe and the award-winning ‘micro’ festival Cloudspotting in Gisburn Forest – this year celebrating it’s 10th anniversary.
Vintage By the Sea, another Deco Publique event, has grown rapidly on a wave of nostalgia for homemade, upcycled, recycled fashion and lifestyle collectables. Another entrepreneurial team, the Johnson family, established Crafty Vintage in 2011 as a regular social gathering and unique marketplace held in interesting locations across Lancashire. Over the years they have showcased many small innovative businesses. Anything crafty, vintage or handmade is their bag, like the suitably named Whalley-based Lanx shoes; proper shoes, made in Lancashire, often in small batches of limited release, giving the wearer individuality as well as style. Lanx’s collaborations with leading sports clubs and interest from fashionistas is certainly making this one of Lancashire’s ‘ones to watch’.
Marketing Lancashire has long celebrated the county’s food and drink producers, especially as part of an authentic offer to visitors who spend over £1billion on food and drink a year. Of course, add in the likes of large manufacturers such as Nelson-based Farmhouse Biscuits or Preston-based vegetable grower and producer Huntapac, family Cheese maker Dewlay and proud Lancashire food store Booths, to name but a few and the importance of this sector to Lancashire is significant. It is however, in the micro-distilleries and food SMEs that Lancashire has found its new ‘cool’; from multi-award-winning gin companies such as Brindle Distillery home of Cuckoo Gin, Burnley’s Batch Brew, Goosnargh Gin located in the Forest of Bowland – the county has been at the forefront of the gin revival. A trend that looks set to continue with more Lancashire gins from Wildfox, Tinker Brook, Ribble Valley, Blackpool Rock, Lytham Gin and Black Powder. From gin to flower-based drinks, oils and vegan butters, baked goods, cheeses and organic meats, the county’s store cupboard is packed with goodies. Take international award-winning Choc Amor, based in Mawdesley, the brainchild of banker-turned-chocolatier Paul Williams. Their clever story-telling and monthly subscription exclusives are attracting fans all over the world yet, Choc Amor remains in a modest unit at Cedar Farm, dedicated to ‘craft’ over volume – making their chocolate even more desirable.
Of course a place where jobs are available, varied and inspiring; where quality food is made and served in some of the best pubs and restaurants in the country; where the culture and lifestyle entertain and elevate the everyday, is a place that attracts people to make their home here. From large countryside properties to compact terraces, Lancashire has something to suit all tastes with city living options on the increase. In January we saw the completion of Preston’s first loft apartments and offices, located in the city’s old Union Carriageworks. This £3.5million warehouse transformation retains many of its original industrial features, is close to the railway station, city centre bars and restaurants, parks and greenspaces – it is sure to appeal to style-conscious, city dwellers. The Preston landscape is ever-changing thanks to the developments around UCLan and a £200million masterplan to create a world-class campus with a new public square bringing the city and university closer together.
As we look at 2020, with even more amazing events, investments, openings and celebrations on the horizon, the county will only be adding to this compelling narrative. And at Marketing Lancashire we are dedicated to telling those stories as far and wide as possible.