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Historic Canterbury high street market to return with completely new traders

A historic market will return next week with an entirely new set of traders in, what is claimed, to be a win-win outcome.

The 700-year-old Canterbury attraction relaunches on Wednesday with 12 sellers offering a variety of products, including fresh fish, bread and cakes, Mediterranean deli, vintage clothing, skincare products, pet items and jewellery.

St George's Street in Canterbury
St George's Street in Canterbury

But absent from the vibrant new line-up in St George’s Street will be any of the original stallholders.

Instead, they have preferred to remain at the solo pitches they were allocated elsewhere in the city centre after being turfed out by the previous Tory administration in 2022.

The move was made necessary by the £1 million transformation of St George’s Street, with there being no intention of the stallholders returning when the project was complete.

But they were offered their places back when the new Labour-Lib Dem coalition took control of the council last May and announced plans to reinstate the market in its original place.

The stallholders have snubbed the offer, however, saying the new St George’s Street pitches are too expensive and their customers are now used to finding them in their current spots.

The city council says it now means shoppers are offered even more choice.

A petition was launched to save the market in Canterbury city centre
A petition was launched to save the market in Canterbury city centre

“Not only do we have the new traders but also the existing ones who are now well established on their street pitches, so it’s a win-win for the city,” says council spokesman Rob Davies.

Excited to be joining the new market is Donna Edwards, with her homemade Fox & Bloom-branded skincare products and soaps.

“I’m hoping it will get the business more exposure and it works much better if I can explain my products face-to-face with customers,” she said.

Also looking forward to having his stall in the city centre is Faversham-based maker of award-winning fruit-flavoured lemonades, Brogue Stephens, whose business is called Beardy B’s Lemonades.

Donna Edwards of Fox & Bloom with her skincare products
Donna Edwards of Fox & Bloom with her skincare products
Brogue Stephens, of Beard B's Lemonades, with partner Aimee Pelling
Brogue Stephens, of Beard B's Lemonades, with partner Aimee Pelling

“I’m looking forward to getting into Canterbury and doing a mid-week market, and there looks to be a nice variety of stalls which complement each other,” he said.

Council leader Alan Baldock (Lab) said: “The city has had a market for almost 700 years with the ability to trade going back to 1453 so we know in our bones that it will be a success,

“The market will drive footfall for all surrounding businesses, add vibrancy and breathe yet more life into St George’s Street while adding to what our fantastic street traders and retailers based across the city have to offer.

“This is the start of the journey and markets develop a life of their own, attracting new and different businesses as they grow and the continental market that we host is a case in point.”

To help make the market a success, the city council has appointed a market development officer to liaise with existing traders, make sure there is a good mix of quality products for sale, and drive promotion of the venue to find new stallholders and attract more visitors.

Anyone interested in a pitch should email Sharlie Dunstan at markets@canterbury.gov.uk.

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