- Gainsborough -
Population: 17,500 Gainsborough stands on the banks of the River Trent and the trade that travelled up and down the waterway was vital in the market town's foundation.
From the wharfs, there is a good view of the curious tidal wave which travels up the river at the same time as the March and September equinoxes.
Known as the Aegir, the wave was given its name by the Scandinavian settlers whose river god was called Oegir.
Centuries later the town's finest building, the Old Hall, was built and is now open to visitors.
The timber-framed house was constructed by Sir Thomas Burgh between 1460 and 1480 and has at its heart the majestic Great Hall with its high-arched roof.
It is said that during the 19th Century author George Eliot visited Gainsborough when she was looking for the factual inspiration for her novel The Mill on the Floss. Many believe Eliot's Mill was Ashcroft Mill which once stood near the bridge over the Trent.
Now the town is achieving a new cultural reputation. It boasts the Trinity Arts Centre film and theatre venue, renowned as one of the top centres of its kind in the region, as well as a developing art gallery.