Why Ramsbottom is attracting an ever increasing number of businesses and residents
PUBLISHED: 00:00 12 November 2019
Whether it's the garlic, the businesses or the people, there's something magic about Rammy.
Ramsbottom was once surrounded by garlic - its name means 'Garlic Valley' - and it seems that the plant, which is reputed to ward off bad spirits and bring positive energy, might still be working its magic. The town is attracting an ever increasing number of businesses and residents.
It was certainly a love of the town that prompted Gu Shiyin to move here and to open his specialist tea shop, 'Tea Atelier'.
'My wife and I would often visit wishing we lived here so when we saw the empty shop - a pretty rare thing in Ramsbottom - we took the plunge,' says Gu who is such an authority on all things tea that Chinese State TV asked him to make a documentary about it.
'I blend several of the teas - we usually have about 35 or so, as well as a couple of seasonal guests: autumn teas will be gingerbread and sweet lemon with rum,' says Gu who sometimes finds himself advising on the health properties of tea.
'Tea can help with a variety of ailments like digestive or skin problems. Mind you, I haven't started my daughter, Vivienne, on tea yet. She is only two and, believe me, she doesn't need anything to boost her energy levels,' says Gu who also sends his teas out to fans across the world.
Coffee isn't a banned substance as Gu also serves several varieties but you won't find any tea bags. All tea is loose and if you want to take some home, it's weighed out in a traditional brown paper bag.
That's something that Abbie Sellars, 27, approves of because she is on a mission to make Ramsbottom an official plastic free town. Abbie, who describes herself as an eco-warrior, has been running Plentiful, a plastic free shop for just over a year and estimates that she has saved a million pieces of plastics from being used.
'The people of Ramsbottom are really keen to reduce their use of plastic - it's just that kind of a town. Cleaning products, beauty stuff and foods can all be bought loose in the shop. Sometimes, people bring Tupperware boxes to put them in but at least it's re-using that plastic.
There's no need to lurk outside if you only have a plastic bag though in which to place stuff, come in anyway and if you want ideas on how to do without it, then we can have a friendly chat,' says Abbi, who is a realist idealist, understanding that most people can't eradicate plastic overnight.
'Start with small steps; bamboo tooth brushes, metal straws and always refill plastic bottles,' says Abbie who has done so well that she is currently crowdfunding to move into a larger shop.
And Abbie's isn't the only business in town with impressive green credentials. The Ramsbottom Soap Company is plastic free, uses only recyclable packaging and even source their power from a renewable energy company. It was launched by Gregg and Terri Fletcher as a way of helping their daughter, Ellie.
'Ellie suffered with eczema but she wanted to use pretty soap so we began experimenting in our kitchen until we found a formula that wouldn't irritate her,' says Gregg who then went through a lengthy health and safety process before selling a dozen bars a week. Today, they sell 60,000 a month all over Europe and employ 27 staff.
'They are all handmade from essential ingredients. Some have gentle perfumes but we encourage anyone who has an allergy to ring us and we check the ingredients of every single one of our soap until we find one that will suit them.'
The company also sell throughout Europe, as well as making small batches for wedding favours, parties or corporate events.
'We even made a small batch of white soap, decorated with red and blue ribbons for a funeral in South Africa. The chap had lived in Lancashire for many years and his family wanted to give mementoes in his name that reflected his time in the county,' explains Greg who has recently launched a range especially for men.
And Ramsbottom's men are catered for at by Rachel Goddard, owner of Rachel Goddard Aesthetics, too. She has noticed an increase in men coming along to her aesthetics clinic.
'I am seeing more and more chaps coming along. Sometimes they come on their own and sometimes a lady will bring her partner along because why shouldn't men take pride in their appearance too?' says Rachel.
Rachel, a post graduate nurse practitioner who has spoken at international conferences, also teaches aesthetic techniques to doctors, nurses and dentists in Harley Street. Unsurprisingly, she's won a mass of awards, including Nurse Practitioner of the Year and is currently shortlisted for four more, including Best Independent Training Provider, at the National Aesthetic Awards in December.
'I am pretty excited and I know Ramsbottom has fingers crossed for me because we're a community that's putting the town on the map together,' says Rachel.
It's not unusual for Rachel's clients to include celebrities and aristocrats but as she points out, these days procedures are for anyone who just wants to look like a better, more refreshed version of themselves.
'Don't be blasé about treatments though. Always make sure the practitioner is fully qualified and think about what you're doing and why,' she adds. 'Unfortunately, sometimes Botox parties are presented as almost the same as lingerie or Tupperware parties but it is a medical procedure, much more serious than buying a pair of pants or a sandwich box. Too many times, I've had to correct things that have gone wrong at these types of events; fillers settling into creases where they were never meant to go and lips that look like mountain ranges,' says Rachel.
One of Ramsbottom's most relaxing and stylish experiences is the 'Dining with Distinction' offered by the East Lancs railway on their 12-mile heritage steam railway: if Poirot had known about them, it's possible he would never have set his patent shoe on the Orient Express. There are several to choose from: stepping back to the elegant 1920s with a mid-week luncheon; afternoon teas; wine tasting dinners or even a black-tie premium dinner, complete with live music, table magician and bubbly.
They might be breaking out the fizz at the Ramsbottom Business over Breakfast Club soon, too.
'We normally have tea or coffee at our breakfast meetings but as we're celebrating ten years of making Ramsbottom a great place to do business, I think we might make an exception,' says chairman Kieran Coe of KC Marketing.The group, who gather at The Lounge, meet to network and to ensure that Ramsbottom stays on top of its game. They try to have representatives from all fields and welcome new faces.
'The town is a thriving, lively place to do business and breakfast is a good time to meet - after all, it's the best meal of the day.'
To judge by the town's success they're certainly doing something right - maybe Ramsbottom doesn't need that magic garlic any more.