Page 35 - MarketTimesOctober2020
P. 35

FEATURE • WHITBY 35
  The beautiful, cliffside town of Whitby on the east coast of Yorkshire, whose ruined abbey inspired the creation of Dracula, has a thriving little market. NICOLA GOULD visits a market that caters for everyone — from holidaymakers and locals, to goths and steam punks
 Located in the cobbled market place, Whitby Market has just 12 pitches that are full each market day. But what it lacks in size, it makes up for in character.
Where else could you buy giant water buffalo horns, a Chelsea Pensioner’s uniform and a hand drawn caricature of yourself, all within a few square feet of each other?
Dating back to 1640, the market was originally run by the Abbey before Henry VIII’s dissolution that reduced it to a picturesque ruin. It became so spooky at its clifftop location, etched against the night sky, that it inspired Bram Stoker to create Dracula.
Apparently the novelist was visiting the seaside town in search of a holiday cottage, and ended up creating the world famous story of a vampire who terrorised the land after his ship was wrecked off Whitby.
These days the market is run by Scarborough Borough Council, but the Dracula link is still helping traders by boosting footfall, as Drew Lonsdale explains.
He is one of four traders who set up stall beneath the old town hall at the top of the market. Since he was a child, Drew has been fascinated by all things vintage, antique — and a bit weird.
He began selling plants and garden antiques at the bottom end of the market, but gradually the antiques took over and he now has an eye-catching business selling everything from military uniforms to stuffed animals in glass cases.
Drew said: “Whitby attracts lots of visitors, particularly in the summer, and I do very well selling to the goths and the steam punks who seem to like the town and attend different events and festivals.”
For the uninitiated, steam punks are followers of Jules Verne of Around the World in 80 Days fame. It started as a science fiction genre and fans now dress up in their own vintage fashion.
“Whitby has various festivals and events that attract them, and I do really well with my uniforms and taxidermy, which is right up their street. I have sold three sets of water buffalo horns over the last few months.”
Other traders are not quite so unconventional. There is a large café area, a hat stall, a bright ladies fashion business, and a stall selling hand-knitted baby clothes.
But the traders under the town hall each have a unique offering. Gary Jamieson, or Arty Gaz, is a talented caricaturist who does a brisk trade selling his drawings of celebrities, as well as a service creating excellent sketches of customers on his stall.
Gaz and his wife Lesley used to set up stall in a market in Grimsby where they live, but these days they travel two hours each way to stand Whitby market where the footfall and market is perfect for their arty business.
Lesley said: “Gary used to get told off in school because he was always sketching and not listening to the lesson. He got his first cartoon strip in the Daily Mail when he was 14, which really encouraged him. Then he trained as a chef because his mum said he would never make any
money from art.”
But Gaz has proved her wrong and his
caricature business is a popular attraction on the market. Over the years he has drawn caricatures of many celebrities including Melinda Messenger, Bill Oddy, the chef James Martin and Tony and Cherie Blair.
Anne Marshall also has an unusual arty business. She specialises in hair braids, and has a sideline in hand painted rocks and pebbles called Glam Rocks.
“I do really well with proper hair braids on this market most summers, but since the pandemic I can only sell clip-on hair braids,” she said.
Ros Powdrell, alias Silver Lady, was also badly affected by lockdown. She specialises in handmade silver jewellery which she has been selling on Whitby market for the past nine years.
“Before that, I sold my jewellery on other markets in North Yorkshire. I used to visit Whitby but never crossed the bridge, then one visit my son had gone off with a friend and I decided to cross it and discovered the market.”
She persuaded the manager to squeeze her on and has done well in Whitby ever since.
“Lockdown was very hard and I had to
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