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 The sleepy, seaside town of Clevedon in North Somerset comes to life every Thursday thanks to the popular charter market that was revived 17 years ago. Nicola Gould reports on a market where harmony reigns
 Once a popular Victorian seaside resort with a landmark pier and a bustling charter market, the town of Clevedon seemed to have settled into a quiet life as a dormitory town for nearby Bristol.
Its seaside appeal had faded and the market, with its charter dating back to 1346, had fizzled out many moons ago.
Then the decision was made to relaunch the market 17 years ago, giving the town a restored sense of identity and a new retail hub every Thursday.
Fishmonger Geoff Britton, who has traded on the market from its rebirth, recalls his first day on the new market which sets up stall in Queens Square in the centre of town.
“It was a very good market from the start,” said Geoff.
For many years it was run by Groupe Geraud, the largest market operator in the UK, and two years ago they asked a former trader Steve Brand to take over as manager.
Steve worked in high-end retailing before
deciding he preferred being his own boss and he spent nine-and-a-half years selling computer parts and spares on Clevedon market.
“I loved the market life and I think I would have stuck with market trading had the industry been more buoyant,” he said.
“I loved the market life and I think I would have stuck with market trading had the industry been more buoyant,” he said.
Instead he left to start his own driving school, but jumped at the opportunity to return to manage the market one day a week as an antidote to his day job teaching 17-year-olds to drive.
And he brought with him an understanding of how markets work from the traders’ point of view, and the will to help traders out whenever possible.
When Clevedon Town Council took the market operation out to tender last year, Steve won the five-year-contract to run it as Steve Brand Markets, and he is now going all out to promote and enhance the market.
Clevedon market is ideally located in Queens Square with two hours free parking nearby and 15 regular traders in an array of different gazebos.
As well as Geoff the fish man, who often sells out by lunchtime, there is a regular butcher, an anchor fruit and veg trader, an impressive cheese and deli-style stall, traditional lines such as ladies fashion and pet products, and plenty of quirky, unusual offers.
Steve said: “I have traded alongside many of the traders and I know the ups and downs of market trading.”
It helps that the town clerk, Paula Heath, is also an ex-market trader.
Steve’s motto is to keep it simple. “Everything is on a spreadsheet that Paula can see so it is all open and transparent.
“I want a full market and if I can see traders are struggling, particularly when they are starting out, I can be flexible with the rent.”
He has invested in gazebos — often by searching out bargains including gazebos and

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