Page 15 - MarketTimesOctober2013
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    s at home
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in Otley
Otley Market in Wharfedale brings this small market town to life, particularly on a Friday and Saturday. NICOLA GOULD visits a country market that caters for both locals and visitors
The directors of ITV’s Emmerdale hit the nail on the head when they selected Otley as the soap opera’s fictional market town of Hotton.
Overshadowed by Otley Chevin, a wooded escarpment and beauty spot, the picturesque town on the river Wharfe in Lower Wharfedale, is on the button.
It is a quintessentially rural Yorkshire town with an abundance of stone buildings, mill cottages, and a cobbled square which hosts a market dating back to 1222, when Henry lll granted its first royal charter.
Like Emmerdale, Otley has changed with the times.
Once a typical rural market where farmers sold their produce in a town made prosperous by worsted mills, Otley is now a desirable place to live and many locals commute to work to nearby Leeds.
The market has adapted to serve both locals and visitors, and market days on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays bring the town to life.
Leeds City Council market officer Darren Ibbotson, who has run the market on and off for 21 years, describes Otley as a traditional, rural market that is flourishing in comparison to others such as Yeadon.
It has a long link to the church dating from 1239 when the Archbishop of York was granted permission to collect the market tolls,
Leeds City Council took over its running in 1974 after major local government reorganisation, and the market now comprises around 75 stalls and 40 traders on the market square and Kirkgate on the busiest market day, which is Friday. This drops to a handful of traders just on the market square on Tuesdays.
Up to four of any one line is allowed, and everyone agrees that the food offering is the hub of Otley market.
Russell Ogden, who sells fish from a van on Kirkgate on Fridays and Saturdays, and on Market Place on Tuesdays, said: “It’s food businesses that do well on this market and keep it ticking over.”
Russell, who is Chairman of the National Market Traders Federation’s Otley branch, joined his wife, Joan’s family in the wet fish business. They have now cut down the number of markets they stand to just Otley.
“We live 18 miles from Grimsby and we have been standing this market for 25 years now,” Russell said. “Obviously, it’s not as busy as it was years ago, but we love it.”
Fruit and veg man Brian Murphy, the branch Treasurer, also has a thriving business in Kirkgate.
The fourth generation of the family to trade on the market, Brian is busy from morning until early afternoon, when he is quite often sold out.
“I first helped out on the stall when I was five years old,” said Brian.
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