Famous botanist should be at centre of town’s bid for more tourists

Sir Joseph Banks in an image highligting his connections with Australia. Image: Sir Joseph Banks Society
Sir Joseph Banks in an image highligting his connections with Australia. Image: Sir Joseph Banks Society

They’ve hum bled our cricketers and now it seems those darned ‘Aussies’ are intent on ‘nicking’ one of Horncastle’s most famous sons.

Residents and town councillors agree Sir Joseph Banks would be the ideal person to boost Horncastle’s tourist ecomomy.

However, there are claims people in Australia know more about the life and achievements of Sir Joseph than locals in Horncastle.

Sir Joseph lived between 1743 and 1820 and was renowned as the Sir David Attenborough of his age.

A world renowned botanist, he accompanied Captain Cook aboard the HMS Endeavour on a famous voyage of discovery to the South Sea Islands.

Sir Joseph spent many years in the Horncastle area, living at Revesby Abbey. He also had a house in the town’s High Street.

Sir Joseph was a British naturalist, botanist and patron of the natural sciences.

He made his name on Captain James Cook’s first great voyage (1768–1771), visiting Brazil, Tahiti, and, after six months in New Zealand, Australia, returned home to immediate fame.

Islands in the South Seas are also named after him.

He held the position of President of the Royal Society for more than 41 years.

He advised King George III on the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and by sending botanists around the world to collect plants, he made Kew the world’s leading botanical gardens.

He is credited with introducing the eucalyptus, acacia, and the genus named after him, Banksia, to the Western world.

Approximately 80 species of plants bear his name.

Horncastle resident Andrew Neal believes more should be made of Sir Joseph’s local links, particularly as the town is determined to win a bigger share of East Lindsey’s booming tourist economy.

Speaking at this month’s town council meeting, Mr Neal praised the work of the Sir Joseph Banks Centre and Banks Society.

However, he said rival towns would have made more of Sir Joseph to attract visitors.

Mr Neal questioned why more people locally were not aware of his importance as local, national and global figure.

Mr Neal said: “Joseph Banks did so much for this town and this country and we should be making more of that.”

Town councillors agreed with Mr Neal.

Coun Fiona Martin said she met some Australian visitors in Horncastle 12 months ago who knew all about Sir Joseph.

Town and county councillor Bill Aron also supported Mr Neal and added: “Thousands of cars go by Horncastle on the A158 every year and we need to divert them into the town centre.

“As a town. we should be making more of our heritage – the Romans and people like Joseph Banks.”

Town councillors have previously ruled out erecting tourism signs on major approach routes – because of the cost implications.

Mr Neal said more needed to be done to promote the Tourist Information Centre, based at the Banks Centre.

Council chairman Coun Brian Burbidge said a number of initatives were underway to increase tourist numbers, including a town trail.

He praised the work of the Banks Centre and Soceity and said ‘all organisations’ needed to help promote the town.