- Little Holland -
It you woke up one day and found yourself in Spalding you could be forgiven for believing that you had been whisked over the sea to Holland. Here are long and elegant terraces of Georgian town houses lining the banks of the river Welland, wide, flat countryside surrounding the town, and tulips in abundance-at least, for part of the year.
So ubiquitous was the tulip when Spalding’s bulb industry was in its prime that the flower became the symbol of both South Holland District Council (with its base in Spalding) and BBC Radio Lincolnshire. Even Spalding’s football team chose ‘the Tulips’ as its nickname.
But visitors making the long journey through the fens to see the tulip field in glorious, blazing colour could now be disappointed: from a peak in 1939, when over 100,000 acres of field around Spalding were given over to tulip cultivation, fewer than 200 acres now remain. Tulips do not take kindly to modern mechanised methods of farming, and much of the tulip growing in Lincolnshire today goes on out of sight of the motorist.
The town’s annual tulip festival survives, however, showing off enough colourful flower heads to satisfy even the most ardent enthusiast. Bulb growing has been part of life in Spalding for over a century, but the May Festival and its famous flower parade, with its floats bedecked with tulip heads, was first held as recently as 1959.
If the sight of millions of tulips still leaves you hungry for more, then there’s only one thing for it: a trip to the tulip museum in nearby Pinchbeck, set up in order to record the passing of the industry which once gave employment to thousands of local men, women and children.