Sun, sand and surf coming to Hitchin town centre next week

PUBLISHED: 11:05 24 July 2018 | UPDATED: 12:07 26 July 2018

Toys at the beach. Picture: Scanpix, Scandlines / CC BY 3.0

Toys at the beach. Picture: Scanpix, Scandlines / CC BY 3.0

Archant

There will be sun, sand and even surf in Hitchin next week, as the business community turns the town centre into a beach!

A surfer off Hawaii. Picture: Cpl Megan L StinerA surfer off Hawaii. Picture: Cpl Megan L Stiner

Historic jewellers Gatwards and the Hitchin BID will transform the town’s Market Place into a sandy beach for everyone to enjoy free from Wednesday to Sunday next week – with a surf simulator in the square for the last two days.

There will be buckets, spades, deckchairs and more, including fairground rides from Wednesday to Friday, and donkey rides over the weekend.

The event is being held to celebrate Gatwards, established in 1760, entering its eighth generation – as Charlotte Gatward has joined the family firm.

Willson Gatward in the doorway of Gatwards jewellers in Hitchin, c. 1950s, and his granddaughter Charlotte Gatward in the same spot today. Picture: Ian Scott PhotographyWillson Gatward in the doorway of Gatwards jewellers in Hitchin, c. 1950s, and his granddaughter Charlotte Gatward in the same spot today. Picture: Ian Scott Photography

She told the Comet: “One of our core values is family, because we’re an old family business – so we wanted to put on something the community and families can enjoy. People can come enjoy the beach, on us.

“The beach is a great way for me to get to know people in the community of Hitchin, as well. I’ll be there for most of the week.”

The beach itself will be free, but there will be charges for the surf simulator and other rides. It will be open from 10am to 4pm daily.

Ready for the beach: Hitchin BID manager Tom Hardy. Picture: Karyn HaddonReady for the beach: Hitchin BID manager Tom Hardy. Picture: Karyn Haddon

BID manager Tom Hardy is excited ahead of Hitchin-on-Sea’s arrival next Wednesday.

“It’s a community day and a chance for Gatwards to give back to the town – and highlight the fact the eighth generation has started work,” he said.

“It’s great we’ve got this long-running business in the town. All the businesses pay a bit of money to fund this type of event, and this is one event where we are, as a BID, celebrating with Gatwards the fact an independent retail business has taken on its eighth generation.

“Considering all the bad press retail has had in the last six months, I think it’s a really positive story for the town. It’s showing there’s still a strong retail presence in the town, with 89 independent retailers.

“This is a celebration of not just Gatwards, but of our town and the fantastic offer we’ve got.”

On Saturday next week, a new Gatwards bench will be unveiled in Market Place – bearing Charlotte’s name alongside those of her relatives and ancestors.

To mark the firm entering its eighth generation, there will be a ‘pieces of eight’ treasure hunt with a family day out offered as a prize, as well as eight-per-cent discounts offered at Gatwards.

Gatwards has been trading for 258 years, and is one of the oldest family jewellers in Britain.

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