Page 23 - MarketTimesAugust2019
P. 23

 erella market centre stage
There is good and bad news about Hitchin Market in North Hertfordshire. The bad news is its location on a paved area off Church Yard behind Churchgate, a dated, con- crete shopping centre, out of sight of the beau- tiful, large cobbled main square, with its central clock tower and backcloth of historic, listed buildings.
The main square attracts every type of event from continental markets to car shows.
It has even been the chosen location for TV adverts in which the ugly Churchgate was electronically removed. The problem has been
that, with the market hidden away, the events in the square have tended to drain footfall from the market, rather than boost it.
The good news is that the market, which can trace its roots back to Roman and Saxon times, is still doing well on Fridays and Saturdays, with 100 stalls under fixed cover, a great mix of food and traditional market lines, and an additional 60 gazebos when needed.
It is rated as the second most important reason for visiting Hitchin.
More not-so-good news is that the Tuesday market is struggling.
Ron Piper, who many years ago sold tights and stockings on the market and took over as manager two years ago, said there was hope on the horizon.
The natural home for the market is the market square, where it took pride of place for centuries, but a return there is not very practical and unlikely to happen.
It moved from the market place to a large car park last century and Ron recently found an old black and white photograph, dated 1953, of the market booming there, with traders selling jellied eels, budgerigars, puppies and kittens.
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