Page 37 - MarketTimesJune2014
P. 37

                                                       After decades on a car park, Herne Bay Market has moved to the centre of the seaside town in Kent. NICOLA GOULD visits on the first day of the relocation.
Whisper it softly — but the good times could be returning to a Kent seaside market that was once a magnet for locals and day trippers.
Herne Bay market, formerly held on Kings Road car park, used to be a big event every Saturday, particularly in the summer months.
Visitors used to arrive by the coachload from across Kent and south east London. There were once more than 150 stalls on the market and Herne Bay had plenty to offer the jaded Londoner, with its own pier and promenade dating from the 19th century, lots of independent shops and plenty of seaside attractions.
The town, on Kent’s north coast, has retained its swagger, in contrast to one or two of its neighbours that have faded with the years.
The shopping centre boasts a ratio of 70 per cent independent businesses. The percentage
of empty shops is less than half the national average. House prices in the town are marching upwards and it is welcoming some trendy new eating places — thanks, in part, to the success of nearby Whitstable.
Chris West, the coastal towns manager for Canterbury City Council, explained: “Whitstable is very fashionable and Herne Bay is benefiting from an overspill of smart businesses that can’t get into Whitstable and see this town as the next in line.”
Sadly, whilst the town has prospered, the market has fared less well.
Wayne Woolf, who has managed the market for the past 15 years, said: “My parents used to trade on the market selling linen and lace. Herne Bay used to have 150 stalls going back 20 years or so, but we have gone down to just 40.”
Wayne reckons a combination of factors

   35   36   37   38   39