The transformation of Horsham’s most popular street will create a ‘snowballing effect’ and attract more investment to the town, officials said at the grand unvieling on Saturday (November 16).
More than £600,000 has been invested in West Street, which now includes new signage and furniture, and a curvy pavement design capturing Horsham’s rich heritage of horses.
A series of events followed the high street’s official opening, including horse-drawn carriage rides along the Causeway and a special Horsham Museum exhibition and historical walking tours in West Street.
County councillor Brad Watson and Horsham District Council’s (HDC) deputy leader Helena Croft carried out the formalities.
Mr Watson (Con, Southwater and Nuthurst) said: “This is a very important occasion for Horsham and the local economy.
“If a town centre isn’t vibrant and attractive we are not going to get the trade and shoppers coming here.
“So again another Horsham first - Horsham has been very good at being in the front, it’s been a progressive council for some time.”
Mrs Croft (Con, Roffey North) said she is ‘very optimistic’ the renovation will bring investment into the town.
Addressing a crowd of residents before the event’s ribbon-cutting, she said: “I’m really optimistic we are going to see a further snowballing effect - much more investment in the coming months.”
Gill Buchanan, centre manager for Swan Walk Shopping Centre, told the County Times after the formal unveiling: “I’m confident that this will lead to more investment in Horsham.”
She added that the way-finding infrastructure will improve customer circulation across the town.
Plaques showcasing Horsham’s history spread over the high street peaked the interest of many visitors - young and old.
Horsham Museum curator Jeremy Knight entertained residents by sharing some of the more adult historical details to the plaques.
Revellers met characters from Horsham’s past, from William Albery to Marilyn Monroe and learnt about their connections with West Street and the town.
Poems by Horsham primary school children have been used on the new benches.
Anne Mellor, 58, of Horsham, teacher at St Mary’s School, said: “I’m very proud of all the children’s contributions.”
The project was made possible by funding from the county council’s Kick Start programme.
A total of £565,000 was allocated from this pot and HDC put in another £100,000. The scheme money awarded could only be used for this purpose.
HDC praised the businesses who took the opportunity to take part in the event. These included:
· Chewton Rose - sponsored horse drawn carriage rides down the Causeway and gave away sweets and balloons
· Pret–A–Manger - hosted a face painter for the day and sponsored the event Ferrari display on The Forum.
· Dixeys Opticians – had free standard coffee with every Italian Arogostino cake!
· Mr Simms – had ‘horse and sweet’ related crosswords to complete with each completed crossword receiving 200g of pick and mix free
· Greggs – hosted Children in Need’s Pudsey Bear for the day and had staff dressing up and offering festive food samples
· Caffé Nero – had some competitions with prizes for children
· The team at The Entertainer got into the spirit of the day by dressing up as cowboys, putting on toy demos, colouring horses and giving away free balloons and goody bags.
· Toni & Guy hairdressers had staff distributing price lists with a £5 off voucher
· Natalia Tomasovicova, Jewellery Designer and Artist proprietor of N&P Art Jewellery, was displaying her horse inspired art and beautiful equestrian jewellery which she makes and sells in her Swan Walk store
· Crew Clothing ran a Candy Cane event with people having to pick a candy cane to win fab prizes, in store and around town
· Sony Centre in Swan Walk ran event related show reels of historical videos and horse related presentations
· Jessops - The store is offering customers 20% off all photo printing from Saturday 16th until Saturday 24th November (for customers using code ‘Black Beauty 0327’ only). Anyone that submits photos for printing with Jessops within these dates will also be put into a prize draw to win the following prizes: 1st prize £50 canvas print, 2nd prize £20 free printing or 3rd prize a free photo gift worth £15. Further details in store on application. On the day in Jessops staff were taking photos of visitors with the roaming historical characters
· Beales - staff brought its windows to life, showcasing a wide range of fashions and gifts for the festive season in a series of live window displays
· Sainsbury’s - at points during the day was a pantomime horse trotting around the town. Sainsbury’s also offered prizes for the best horse picture of the day in a number of age ranges
· B-52s - hosted the Piries Place Christmas Road Show providing lots of fun for the whole family including live music, balloon modelling, face painting, Santa, magic show and with a Christmas Lights switch on at 5pm
· Ceramic Shack - were busy with many horse and Christmas pottery designs for decoration
· La Vida - had a 20% off weekend and some stunning horsey windows too!