Broadway, Worcestershire

PUBLISHED: 11:59 16 December 2010 | UPDATED: 15:59 20 February 2013



Katie jarvis visits the booming town thats well worth investing in. Shaun Thompson took the pictures

If you want a safe investment, it's fair to say you might not be heading for a bank nowadays. So here's an alternative suggestion: Broadway.

The town's galleries, such as John Noott's in the High Street, have long been valued for their eclectic collections of high quality art. Today, they're also beginning to fulfil a different function: as a safe and enjoyable way to invest.

"I'm constantly hearing this from buyers and from chums in the trade," John Noott says. "And it's not surprising: I've just had a letter informing me that the rate of return on my savings will be one percent! What good is that? One customer of mine has just bought a new Aston Martin costing around 150,000. He's probably spent the same amount with me on pictures. I don't know what the pictures will be worth in 10 years' time but they are a sound asset that will respond to market influences. His car probably won't be worth more than 20,000."

With 1,000, you can buy from John a good piece of contemporary art or perhaps a charming 19th century watercolour; from there upwards, the choice gets wider. More importantly, you'll gain a great deal more pleasure from it than from looking at your bank statement. "The one piece of advice I'd give, though, is never to buy a piece purely with money in mind; buy it because you love it," he says.

Broadway is full of good ideas. There's the supermarket Warner's Budgens that couples convenience with massive support for local producers; and OKA, with its fantastically stylish furniture. One of the more unusual businesses is the hair salon, Spirit Organic, which has just opened a second branch in Stow-on-the-Wold.

Owners Dennes and Tabitha James-Kraan have won a huge following thanks to a combination of chic and skillful hairdressing with an eco-friendly approach: the Broadway salon runs on renewable energy sources, uses recycled paper and oil-free inks for printed material, and carrier bags are made from 100 percent recycled paper. They're even looking into ways to recycle hair! Tabitha started out with a conventional salon; but when she was expecting her first child, she began to look carefully at everyday chemicals and their possible effects on health, and decided to concentrate on gentler products. "Local people have very much backed us," Dennes says. "We offer the same artistic and stylish approach, but we now keep in mind our clients' health, too."

It's certainly fair to say that Broadway traders are a cut above the ordinary, full of progressive ideas and character - right down to Max, the well-known Labrador at Buckland Manor.

Customers appreciate the services on offer; and traders, in turn, appreciate the glorious surroundings in which they work. Peter Dann took over as general manager of the Broadway Hotel last July.

"For me, it's like coming home because I started my career at the Lygon Arms in 1971, working there in the college holidays. The area has hardly changed: still the most picturesque of places. It's easy to get blas, if you're not careful. I worked in Switzerland for seven years, and sometimes it was a case of a bored: Oh, more snow! But working in an hotel means you get to see guests whose eyes light up with envy at the thought of living here. It makes you value Broadway all the more."

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