Page 22 - Market Times June 2021
P. 22

The accidental market that has revived a Leicestershire town
  IT WAS a chance visit to the sleepy town of Shepshed, and the global pandemic, that led to the creation of a new market that is breathing new life into this commuter town in Leicestershire.
The chance visit happened four years ago when Philip McCauley-Rowe, now in charge of markets and fairs for Charnwood Borough Council, visited Shepshed because it was the only place he could find to register with a dentist.
“I hadn’t heard of the place before but I spotted a lone fruit and veg trader on an area called Hall Croft and I thought what a great place it was for a market,” he said.
Fast forward several years to a different world struggling to cope with COVID-19, with lockdowns and social distancing, and Philip felt the time was right to follow up on that hunch and create a new market in Shepshed.
Philip is a self-confessed market-aholic. He started work on a fruit and veg stall in Birmingham’s Bull Ring Market aged 17, and following a stint in the services he has helped run markets in Darlington, Stockton-on-Tees and Coalville, and spent four years as a market trader selling socks and kids’ pyjamas at Stockton and other gaffs across the North East.
“I just love markets. It’s an unbelievable vibe and it’s not just the sellers, it’s the buyers too. It sends shivers down your spine,” he said.
“If you want to run a market or start a market, it really helps to have been a market trader because you have to understand them and understand that they are your key asset,” he said.
Rather than go down an official route with the council, he decided to make an informal start and invited Loughborough fish trader Louis Cavner to join him on Hall Croft one Sunday to see if he thought his new market idea was a goer.
Louis has 45 years on nearby Loughborough Market under his belt, and the family business he runs with his brother, Perry, and wife, Rebecca, has been a fixture on that market for 150 years.
“The council had closed down Loughborough market for a spell during the first lockdown and I knew a lot of food traders would like an alternative in case the same thing happened again,” Louis said.
But past experience in Shepshed wasn’t encouraging. The town had a market on Hall Croft and a nearby car park in the 1970s and 1980s which had done reasonably well until a couple of local factories closed.
Shepshed had become more of a commuter town and the official verdict was that it could not sustain a successful market.
Both Philip and Louis felt this time things were different. “The pandemic has actually helped

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