Plans to revive Thorne Market

It was once a thriving market at the centre of one of Doncaster's biggest towns.

Thursday, 3rd October 2019, 10:36 am
Sharon Parnell, Bianca Parcell and Rebecca Johnson, pictured. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP-20-08-19-ThorneMarket-1
Sharon Parnell, Bianca Parcell and Rebecca Johnson, pictured. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP-20-08-19-ThorneMarket-1

But as out of town retail centres and the internet started to take trade away from traditional shopping, things went quiet at Thorne Market.

Now the tide could be set to change - with a big effort in the town to bring trade back to the historic Market Place in the town.

Businesses in that part of the town, near Church Street, were concerned that the number of traders using the facilty had plummetted over the years, having seen pictures of the area as it was decades ago.

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Now they have started to club together to bring back the tradition.

Things started to move after Sharon Parnwell moved into the former HSBC bank building at Market Place, opening a gift shop on the premises. Having only recently moved to the area, she was amazed when she saw pictures of the site many years ago, with a packed market.

Changes at the site meant that the original, fixed stalls were no longer there - stalls are now brought out by staff from Thorne Town Council when they are needed.

Now Sharon and her neighbouring business owner, play cafe owner Bianca Parcell, have started taking stalls outside their shops on market day. They have also approached other businesses in Thorne about them taking stalls, and Sharon has spoken to some of the suppliers who provide stock at her store. They believes it is started to have an effect.

Sharon said: "My customers said how amazing it used to be, how packed it was once was. There were fruit and veg stalls, meat stalls - it was a real thriving hub, and people apparently used to come from as far away as Goole and Epworth.

"But it's not really been used like that for years, although it is used for events like the Christmas lights switch on, and Christmas choirs. There were just a couple of stalls there on a Friday.

"From a business point of view, it is about getting people up the road again to this part of the town. There used to be banks here but when they closed people stopped coming here as much.

"It is about being noticed so that people know that we're here.

"The first week that we got together, there were five stalls. Since then we've had 11 a couple of times, and we're expected 14 next time.

They believe the approach has brought some success.

Rebecca Johnson, who makes and sells her own bath bombs has also taken a stall. She said: "I've sold my products online, but now I've done three days at the market since Sharon approached me. My next one will be my fourth day.

"Most of my customers are local, but there are a lot of customers still who don't shop in the internet - so it has given me an extra outlet.

"It is lovely running a home business like mine, but you don't see many people. But at the market I get to talk to people on the stall, and I like that."

Bianca is using a stall to sell some of the products she sells at her cafe, but also finds it helps raise awareness of her business, which combines a cafe with children's activities.

She said: "It has a nice community feel. I feel it is bringing back a sense of community, and some people are becoming regulars. Some have said we will not get the market back going, but we are certainly going to try.

"I think there are people who go into the new industrial estate rather then coming into Thorne town centre - we want to get them to come to Thorne.

"People are starting to know that we are here now. I think it's fantastic, and we're trying to get as many different stalls as possible. It's about getting businesses like Becky's here, who may not be able to afford shop rents."

Sharon would like to see service stalls at the market too, perhaps offering services like shoe polishing or fingernail art.

The Market Place has also recently seen a major alteration, with new buildings built on the former site of the market chip shop and a former iron mongers which had fallen into disrepair, after a long running planning dispute over the buildings, elements of which dated back hundreds of years.

Market day in Thorne is Fridays.