Page 41 - MarketTimesOctober2013
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The traditional Wednesday market in Machynlleth, the ancient capital of Wales in the Dyfi Valley, has gone from strength to strength since the town council took over its running. NICOLA GOULD reports on a market which is the hub of a community scarred by tragedy
The Welsh town of Machynlleth was shaken to its core by the murder of five-year-old April Jones last year. The close-knit community came together first to search for her, then to mourn.
And now that the healing process is under way, the town’s ancient market is continuing to play a key role as the beating heart of a community touched by tragedy.
With a charter dating back to 1291, Machynlleth Market has long been a focal point for the rural community. Held every Wednesday, it was a hive of activity in days gone by as townspeople, farmers and people from outlying villages gathered to buy and sell everything from ducks and hens to cheese and vegetables.
Today, the market retains its central role in the life of the town. But these days it is a much more diverse affair, with up to 70 stalls stretching along either side of the main street selling a diverse range of products, from fruit and veg and flowers to hand-crafted gifts for the many tourists that flock to the town.
Market supervisor Mike Clarke said: “The diversity of the market is vital. We get a lot of tourists in the summer and traditional craft items go down well with them. But we also rely on locals and it’s the diversity that brings people down from the hills to shop at the market,” he added.
Mike and Mark Rowlands, his ‘right-hand man’, are doing a great job running the market for Machynlleth Town Council, which took it over from Powys County Council nearly three years ago.
Councillor Mike Williams, who is a county councillor, a town councillor and chairman of the town council market panel, said: “This is
a very close community and the council understands the central role of the market as a hub of the community.”
He said the town had changed over the past quarter of a century, becoming more cosmopolitan with new people bringing new ideas. And the market brings everyone together, which the market team
believes is important as the town recovers after its recent tragedy. Mike Clarke said: “It was a terrible time and the traders did all they
could to help.”
They donated everything from food to footwear to searchers looking
for April. When the children were struggling to cope with the media attention surrounding the trial, the market team organised a competition for schoolchildren to design a ‘green’ bag for market shopping.
“We wanted to do something to divert their attention,” said Mike. “And we believe that the market has a role to play in the healing process, bring- ing people together and helping the town recover from a very traumatic time.”
The traders, who include locals and traders from as far afield as Anglesey, Birmingham and Worcester, went through the difficult times and are now generally upbeat about the future.
They are a diverse bunch, including locals and people who have chosen to settle in the historic Welsh town, attracted by the beauty of the countryside and the warmth of the community.
Nick Lowe, Chairman of Machynlleth’s National Market Traders Federation branch, and his wife, Dee, decided to settle in the town after they performed there in their past career as professional singers.
  Retired teacher Elaine Weston sells the slate and driftwood craft items made by her husband and the hand-sewn bags and aprons she makes herself
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