Last stall standing at King's Lynn's Saturday market
PUBLISHED: 15:00 16 November 2011
Archant © 2011
Come rain, snow, wind or sun, Elaine Atkinson wakes at the crack of dawn every Saturday to run a fish stall at an historic market.
The 45-year-old is the sixth generation from her family to work on a stall at the market at Lynn’s Saturday Market Place, which has run for more than 900 years.
But following the retirement of a vegetable stall holder, she now runs the only stall to grace the weekly market which is overlooked by St Margaret’s Church.
“When I used to help out on my dad’s stall as a little girl, I can remember this market being crammed with five vegetable stalls, two fish stalls and plenty of other stalls,” she said.
“My dad was on here for 50 years and my grandfather was on here for 50 years before that, and I always remembered it being busy here.
“But now there is just me left here and it is heartbreaking to see a once thriving market decline so dramatically. My grandfather would also hate to see the Saturday market like it is today, but I am determined to keep it going even if it’s just me because I enjoy being here even when it is freezing.
“I don’t know any different and I am still getting my regulars. I like being outdoors in the fresh air and I like keeping my regulars happy.”
Mrs Atkinson recently sold the business to Norfolk Seafoods but is still employed to run the stall.
She also takes The Shellfish Bar to the other markets in Lynn, on Tuesday and Friday, on the Tuesday Market Place, which have also seen a recent drop in stalls.
Both Mrs Atkinson and West Norfolk Council hope other market traders and people starting up a new business will start flocking to the Saturday market and help revive it.
Maureen Edwards, market administrator at West Norfolk Council, said: “The Saturday Market Place does need a bit of variety and it would be great to get more stalls in which would hopefully encourage people in and get the general public to start walking down there.
“Having a stall is a cheap way of starting a new business and seeing what products sell without committing to a shop and business rates and I would urge people looking to start a new business to give Lynn’s markets a chance.
“All people need to bring is their own stall or even a gazebo with a pasting table inside and get public liability insurance with £5m cover which works out at less than £100 a year. We also have a special offer on rent at the moment for the Saturday Market Place which is trade for three weeks and get the fourth week free.”
The Saturday Market Place is the oldest of the town’s two market places, having been officially sanctioned by the Bishop of Norwich around 1100.
The newer Tuesday Market Place was established some 300 years later as the town expanded to the north and west.