Page 21 - MarketTimesApril2020
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  market,” she said.
She approached Rawtenstall
Borough Council and they eventually agreed to her voluntary management proposal which entailed her working for free for 12 months to transform the market and investing her own money in its regeneration.
In return she would get all her investment money back plus 90 per cent of any profits. At the time the market was only 50 per cent let and was losing £13,000 a year.
She took over the running of the market in May last year and the transformation has been incredible. “Jane came in like a whirlwind,” Annette said. “Everything she said she would do she did. Footfall has increased dramatically and from a dismal situation the traders are now very optimistic about the future.”
Jane recruited retired police officer Jacs Barker-Rourke, who is a self-employed handywoman trading under the name Mrs Toolbox, to her mission.
“I first met Jane on that day on the market square when the stall man didn’t turn up,” Jacs said.
The pair backed by the traders worked tirelessly, often 10 hours a day, turning a dark, dismal market into a bright, welcoming one.
“It was a women’s army — a dream team,” Jane said. “Jacs shared my vision, values and work ethic. We employed professionals to paint the outside cabins and to do electrical and plumbing work inside, but virtually everything else we did ourselves.”
The project has been a recycling
triumph. “We sawed off the upper parts of a section of the stalls and used the bottom sections as tables for a community seating area after sanding down the table tops,” Jane said.
They used the wood from the cabins to create new boards over the remaining units and one of the traders, Beth Field, an artist, created attractive signage for each stall.
Beautiful old wooden signs and artwork were discovered gathering cobwebs in a storeroom and Jane created an area of pop-up stalls to ensure the market had something different each market day to pull in the punters.
And she designated Thursday a vintage market day. Friday is a social night from 4pm to 9pm with music, food and drink, and Saturday is a makers’ market. She recently launched a new venture — a Sunday outdoor food market on the fourth Sunday of the month.
“The project has gone even better than I ever anticipated,” said Jane. “We achieved all our outcomes in the first seven months.”
Footfall has soared and the market is virtually full, with just three cabins on the outdoor market available to rent.
Jane is regularly approached by older locals, some of them in tears, who tell her that the market is now back to the wonderful shopping place they remember from their childhood.
She was awarded the prestigious Rossendale Business Valley at Work accolade.
But for Jane it is not about awards
Rawtenstall’s newest and longest serving traders are pictured. Annette Upton (right) started selling household textiles on the outdoor market in 1992 and now runs a blinds business indoors. Eva Place has just launched a beard care and menswear business on the indoor market
or profit. “It is about community and bringing vibrancy and energy back to the heart of Rawtenstall,” she said.
Jane said the traders had upped their game and now have the confidence to invest in their businesses. The town has also seen an upsurge. “There are some new businesses starting up in town and a couple of micro-pubs have opened,” Jacs said.
Eva Place is one new business owner who has taken the plunge and launched her new beard care and menswear business on the indoor market.
“It’s a lovely, friendly atmosphere and things are going well,” she said.
It has been a remarkable success story for all concerned, but perhaps surprisingly Jane will be walking away from Rawtenstall in May as she always said she would.
“It has been exhausting but so worthwhile and fulfilling,” said Jane. “But I said I would give 12 months of my life to this market for free and it is now in a good position to carry on without me.”
The council is planning to advertise the lease and if no one suitable is found it will return to the council’s management.
And will she be sad to say goodbye? “Yes, of course, but there is always another project I can move on to,” she said.

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