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Feb 2019

A long-running supporter of the Stratford Festival of Motoring is set to be the face of this year’s event - despite not being able to make it to the festival for the first time since it started.

Festival fan Graham Smith, from Stratford, won the ‘dress the age of your car’s manufacture’ competition with his unique 1954 MG TF ‘Twin Cam’.

The seventh Stratford Festival of Motoring takes place on Sunday, May 5th and Bank Holiday Monday, May 6th, bringing thousands of petrolheads to the town for a showcase of vehicles past and present.

Motoring enthusiasts can take part in tours through Stratford’s surrounding countryside before completing a lap of honour in the town then parking up to show off their pride and joy.

The festival sees more than 300 vehicles lined up on Stratford’s streets, along with interactive demonstrations, food, drink and live music and entertainment to suit visitors of all ages.

Festival organiser Stratforward BID this year held a contest to find the face of the 2019 event, asking people to send in pictures of their car with them dressed in the appropriate fashion for the year of its manufacture.

Graham, 71, who has attended the festival each year, submitted pictures of his pride and joy, an MG TF ‘Twin Cam’ built in Abingdon on March 30, 1954, which he has owned since 2012, complete with him dressed appropriately.

One of around 10,000 of its type produced between 1953 and 1955, the MG TF was a stop-gap model based on the previous ‘square rigger’ TD.

Considered by many to be the prettiest of the MG ‘T’ series, it spent just two years in production before it was superseded by the MGA.

Graham’s TF, which is possibly unique and has been dubbed ‘MG TG’ by fellow enthusiasts, was ‘period’ updated in the 1970s with the fitting of an MGA 1600 Twin Cam engine and MGB running gear.

Graham said: “We’ve been to the festival every year and I’m a big fan of it, so thought it would be a bit of fun to enter and I’m thrilled to have won. I actually can’t attend the festival this year, so it’s nice to know we’ll be there in some form, as the ‘face’ of the festival.

“The festival is a great event, the whole mixture of vehicles across all ages, it’s a really exciting event that makes Stratford tingle. Everybody walks around and mingles, looking at the cars and chatting about their history.”

Graham has been a classic car enthusiast for years, owning sports cars at university and before his children were born.

“We didn’t have anything quite as fun after the children came, but now I’ve gone back to whizzy cars,” he added. “This is the second MG I’ve owned - the first I had from 2003 to 2013 and I got this one in 2012. I’m delighted to be able to show it off and look forward to seeing the festival posters.”

Ruth Wood, Events Manager at Stratforward BID, which represents around 420 businesses in Stratford Town Centre, said: “A huge congratulations to Graham for winning the competition. It’s wonderful to have such a longstanding supporter of the event as the face of the festival. It’s a shame Graham can’t attend this year, but his prize of a free entry pass to the festival will be deferred to next year and we look forward to seeing him then.

“The Stratford Festival of Motoring is always incredibly popular and it’s a great way of bringing in people to the town centre. Visitors range from car enthusiasts to families on a day out or people looking for something fun to do on Bank Holiday Monday. They may come for the festival but we know that plenty of people take advantage of being in Stratford to pop in to many of the businesses, whether to shop, check out their motor festival-related activities, offers or displays, or have something to eat or drink.”

Help needed! To find the face and car of Stratford Festival of Motoring 2019

Jan 2019

Will you be the face and car of the Stratford Festival of Motoring 2019?!

Or do you know someone who dresses in the style of their car?

Take part in the photoshoot in February in Stratford and you could be on the many posters and brochures used to promote the festival. 

Ask them to get in touch ASAP on Facebook Twitter, or email over the next week.  Many many thanks!

Stratford Festival of Motoring is May 5th and 6th 2019



#stratfordmotorfestival #stratforduponavon #freetospectatefestival

Get involved in your BID at the AGM

Jan 2019

Stratforward members are invited to the Stratforward AGM 

on Tuesday, January 15th from 6 - 7pm at Everyman Cinema. 

The AGM will include an update on the past year, as well as plans for the forthcoming year.

It would be really helpful if you would let us know if you are coming please. Just email 

Can you help shape the future of Stratford town centre? 

There are currently Stratforward board member representatives from sectors across Stratford’s business community, but there are also vacancies. The board meets a minimum of six times a year and acts as the primary consultative and advisory body on BID services. Its responsibilities include strategic direction, financial decisions, human resources, and standards and compliance.

Please chat with Joe if you are interested. Call 01789 292718, pop into the office or email

Additionally, if you have a particular passion and would like to be involved in the BID but don’t want a Board position, please let us know. You could make a difference and help guide the many projects we will be delivering over the next five years. 

Motor Festival 2019 Tickets on Sale NOW!

Dec 2018

Book tickets to bring your car to Stratford Festival of Motoring!

The ever-popular Stratford Festival of Motoring has just released tickets to bring your car to the festival. Take part in the runs around stunning local countryside and then park up in town for all to admire on the Bank Holiday Weekend -Sunday 5th May and Bank Holiday Monday 6th.

Click here for more info...  

Tickets make an excellent Christmas present!?

Winning Photo of the Specsavers Stratford Festival of Motoring Photo Competition 2018 (adults category)

David Edmund Jones

#StratfordUponAvon #motorfestival

Which Window Won?

Dec 2018


Local businesses made Stratford’s streets sparkle thanks to a creative collection of outstanding window displays as part of the annual Christmas Window Competition. Garlands and gifts met stunning lights as shops throughout the town centre adorned their frontages with festive displays in line with the theme ‘All That Glisters’. The awards are split into independent and national businesses and both were hotly contested. The judging team spent hours trawling Stratford’s streets assessing each display for factors including creativity, impact and visual appeal.

Independent Winner

After much deliberation, the winner of the independent category was declared as opticians Dr CP Grey on Chapel Street, whose warm display was highly praised. Owner, Elizabeth Grey said: “It’s so important just now to make the town centre attractive and make our windows as appealing and welcoming as we can. The ‘All That Glisters’ theme let our super-talented Grace create our lovely festive windows. We are delighted to have won the award and hope our window display will be enjoyed by many over the Christmas period.”

Gift shop Daisy Chain, on Chapel Street, was highly commended for its absorbing and fun displays that “give great gift ideas”.  Coralie Keech, the owner of Daisy Chain, said: “I’m absolutely thrilled. I put so much effort into the display. Our windows work for us 24/7 so it really is what is in the window that draws people in.” 

Also deserving a special mention is Gemini, women's clothing and shoes, for the eye-catching garlands around their many windows.


National Winner

For the second year running, the National Award went to the British fragrance brand Jo Malone, on Bridge Street. Senior stylist Tina Barnett said: “Jo Malone London are delighted to have won this coveted award and thank Stratforward for their recognition of our #AllThatSparkles Christmas window.”

This year the judging team also felt an extra award should be given to Pragnell Jewellers on Wood Street for its “truly eye-catching display” of lights across its whole frontage. 

The Christmas Window Competition is just one part of the town-wide campaign to showcase Stratford-upon-Avon as the perfect festive destination. This weekend saw the Stratford Victorian Christmas Market bring thousands of people flooding into the town and each Thursday late-night Christmas markets and shopping have attracted locals and visitors to find the perfect gifts for their loved ones. Stratforward has produced a glossy brochure showing off the array of local businesses offering everything from clothing to food and experiences. The BID is also backing VISA UK’s campaign to #KeepItLocalThisChristmas with its own social media campaign highlighting independent businesses and encouraging people to support them this festive season.
Stratforward BID director Joe Baconnet said: “Stratford’s businesses have pulled out all the stops to make Stratford look even more beautiful than usual. Along with the Christmas lights, our retailers and their displays help make Stratford the perfect destination for festive shopping and celebrations. We’re lucky to have such a thriving range of independent businesses as well as big national names, that’s why we’ve been backing VISA UK’s campaign to encourage people to shop local.”


1. (L-R) Tina Barnett, senior stylist, Jo Malone; Sallie Hinton, Christmas stylist, Jo Malone; Dr Roy Lodge, Stratford Christmas Lights Company; Joe Baconnet, Stratforward
2. (L-R) Elizabeth Grey, Dr CP Grey; Joe Baconnet, Stratforward; Dr Roy Lodge, Stratford Christmas Lights Company
3. (L-R) Joe Baconnet, Stratforward; Dr Roy Lodge, Stratford Christmas Lights Company; Coralie Keech, owner, Daisy Chain.
4. The stunning lighting display at Pragnell Jewellers.

Christmas Spirit Flowed!

Nov 2018

On Saturday Father Christmas elegantly paraded in a stunning horse-drawn carriage with the Make a Wish Competition winners

Congratulations to winners

Darcy, Matilda and Hal had an epic time!

Bell Court

Christmas celebrations started with live music, a brass band, a school choir and their light switch on ceremony!

Great shopping in town too. Super deals for #BlackFriday have started already. Farringdon & Forbes have some brilliant offers in Bell Court Stratford

Visit Father Christmas

Limited spaces available to at STMO's Magic Alley in Bell Court.

Many thanks

The Arden Hotel, Hathaway Tea Rooms ASK Italian, Magic Alley and WHSmith

Warwick Shire Horse Carriages team was excellent!


Be Gone Grumpy Elves!

Nov 2018

Less than 40 Sleeps To Go Until The Big Ho Ho Ho So Its Time To Make Some Christmas Magic!

Come to Stratford for the magical sight of Father Christmas and friends on a horse-drawn carriage parading around town. Catch some festive spirit and how about a warmed mince pie or mulled wine?  

The lucky winners of the town’s Make a Christmas Wish Competition will ride in the elegant carriage drawn by two horses with Father Christmas on Saturday 17th November. Watch the festive tour of Stratford which starts at the Leisure Centre at 2 pm and continues around town until 4 pm.  To make sure you catch them, check out the route below.  The competition is organised by Stratforward BID and Magic Alley with great support from local Ask Italian, WH Smith, Hathaway Tea Rooms and The Arden Hotel. Winners will be treated to various treats such as afternoon cream teas and special gifts.  

What's On in Stratford over Christmas?

The Make a Wish Competition leads to more festive fun in Stratford. Bell Court has their light switch on ceremony on Saturday too. Then on Thursday Stratford’s stunning Christmas lights will be switched on (November 22nd.) And the first late-night festive market will take place on Bridge Street. The popular Victorian Christmas Market is back on December 7th - 9th complete with 200 stalls, vintage fairground and lively street entertainment.

There’s a handy What’s On in Stratford in the Stratford Christmas brochure. Have you seen it yet? For a digital version of the Christmas Brochure click here.   It’s also full of ideas to solve your gift dilemmas and cool places for a Christmas bite to eat or drink.  After all, Stratford is Christmas upon Avon! 


Get social!        

Twitter: Stratforward               Facebook: Stratforward             Instagram: Stratforward

Horse Drawn Carriage Ride Route for the Make a Wish Competition  - Saturday 17th December 2018

Father Christmas will leave Stratford Leisure Centre on his horse-drawn carriage at 2 pm. His route will be Bridgeway, Bridge Street, Wood Street, Rother Street, Chestnut Walk, Church Street, Chapel Street, High Street. 

The first winners will be collected by Father Christmas at 2:15 pm at Bardia’s Floral Cafe at the High Street entrance to Bell Court. They will leave at 2:20 pm to travel up High Street, Wood Street, Greenhill Street, Grove Road, Rother Street, Wood Street and on to High Street, where they will be dropped at Hathaway Tearooms for a sumptuous afternoon tea.

The second winners will be collected by Father Christmas at The Arden Hotel at 2:45 pm. So the carriage will travel from Hathaway's along High Street via Sheep Street and Waterside ready to pick up the second winners. From here they will move up Southern Lane, Chestnut Walk, Church Street, Chapel Street, Ely Street, Rother Street, Wood Street, High Street, Sheep Street, Waterside to drop off at 3:15 pm outside the RSC Swan Theatre. 

The third winners will be picked up at 3:15 pm outside the Swan Theatre. From here they will go up Southern Lane, Chestnut Walk, Church Street, Chapel Street, Ely Street, Rother Street, Wood Street, onto High Street for 3:45 pm as the final drop off before returning to the Leisure Centre.

Last year's Make a Wish Winners with Father Christmas and horse-drawn carriage.


Simply the Best!

Nov 2018

Many Many Congratulations to all Winners of the Stratford-upon-Avon Online Awards 2018

You're Simply the Best!

- as voted by the public.

Winners include many of our members...

A Fine Tattoo Establishment 
All Bar One Stratford-upon-Avon
The Stratford Alehouse - Bill O'Brien
Boston Tea Party Stratford - Upon - Avon
Box Brownie Coffee
El Greco
Everyman Cinema Stratford upon Avon
Gemini Woman
Hooray's British Gelato Kitchen
Hotel du Vin Stratford
STMO's Magic Alley
Matthew Curtis
Paxton & Whitfield Stratford
RSC Royal Shakespeare Theatre
The Shakespeare Hospice Bookshop
Shakespeare Birthplace Trust
Shakespeare's Schoolroom & Guildhall
Stratford-upon-Avon Butterfly Farm
Stratford River Festival - massive thanks!
The Bear Pit
The Fourteas
Keys & Kitchen
The MAD Museum
Vinegar Hill
VIP Salon

You're the BEST! It's official.

And its great the public have the chance to vote on their favourites! Thanks to SUA On Line.


Make a Christmas Wish Competition

Nov 2018

Father Christmas returns to the streets of Stratford upon Avon this year with the Make a Christmas Wish Competition.

Three children and a grown up parent or guardian will each win the chance to ride through Stratford with Father Christmas. The top prize winner will win the opportunity to turn on the Christmas Lights in Jingle Bell Court!!

Download the form here.

Return to Stratforward BID Ltd or send to by Friday 9th November


Oct 2018


Enjoy a ‘spook-tacular’ Halloween at Bell Court this October with a host of family friendly and spellbinding activities set to raise the hairs on the back of your neck…

...or hear about the centre’s very own ghostly girls – the Belles of Hell Court – a spooky tale set in 19th century Stratford.  But beware, the evening events are strictly for adults only at Magic Alley.

While you’re there, why not also stop by Generation Hex, a brand-new shop-within-a-shop catering for the magical and mystical needs of Millennials not just in Stratford but across the world. The shop has a life-size bubbling cauldron and is packed with magical and mystical goodies including fairies, crystals and unicorns!

For those who really want to test their nerves – take in a screening of the new Halloween movie at Everyman Cinema, followed by a creepy cocktail or two at All Bar One or Veeno or a devilish dinner at Ask, Miller & Carter or Nandos

Toby Saggers, Asset Manager at UK & European Investments, the owners of Bell Court, said: “We’ve got a lot of spooky activity at Bell Court this Halloween so we’d encourage guests to pop by and experience it for themselves. You may even meet our very own scary sisters – the Belles of Hell Court.”

Dave Matthews, owner of parent company STMO Media Group, adds: “The tale is about two sisters who were daughters of an ailing butcher in an area of Rother Market known as Hell Court, owing to the noises made by animals as they were slaughtered. The daughters weren’t allowed to inherit their father’s business - they had to be married so it could be passed on, but strangely enough their suitors kept disappearing. This modern reworking of the original penny dreadful tale of Sweeney Todd has been relocated to Stratford and given a gruesome twist that will definitely keep audiences on the edge of their seat.

Tickets for Halloween at Magic Alley can be booked by telephone on 01789 290969, or in person at the Magic Alley main reception - but remember to book quick, as tickets are going fast!

Other retailers at Bell Court include Debenhams and Lush, as well as independent businesses including Farringdon & Forbes, Bardia’s, The Naildressers and The Browstudio. 

Bell Court has undergone an 18 month refurbishment to become a high quality retail and leisure destination within Stratford’s town centre. In addition to new shops, restaurants and leisure facilities, Bell Court has delivered new public realm, including a central square with wooden seating, landscaping and feature lighting, as well as a living wall and new art installations. 

Further information about Bell Court can be found on the development’s Facebook (BellCourtStratford), Twitter (BellCourtLife) and Instagram (BellCourtStratford) pages. 

For further information please contact Rachel Tillman at Core on 0121 232 5000 or email