History of markets

Victorian market

Markets have been in the existence since a date that no one can fix but suffice it to say that they have been serving the public all over the world for many centuries.

Most Settlements in England at least had an outlet for local artisans and tradesmen together with farmers who usually sold their goods and wares in the local market. Most Towns that we recognise started with a market then a place of worship before establishing itself as regional shopping areas.

As a means to protect their trade and to prevent too much competition the Elders of some of these Towns petitioned the King of the time to be granted a royal charter that would give a Town the sole rights to hold markets and fairs within a specified area. This area was usually deemed to be six and two thirds miles as the crow flys from the designated market place. The reason for the distance is because that was reckoned to be a maximum fair distance for a family to walk to market buy their goods and walk back home in daylight hours. As most King,s in those days were always seeking to raise cash to be granted a charter the Town would have to pay a handsome sum as a down payment and an annual sum thereafter. That charter gave the Town sole rights to all markets and fairs in their area on specified days. Many Towns followed this pattern and there are several markets throughout the UK that still possess them. Some Towns in later life bolstered the charter by reinforcing it with a Corporation Act whilst others let them drift by not enforcing their rights.

In the sixties and seventies Private market Operators such as ourselves began an expansion of markets in areas mainly outside the chartered areas and were forerunners in expanding Sunday trading.

Many famous High Street shops, brands and individuals started their commercial ventures in markets. The following list just gives examples but there are very many more. Tescos. Marks and Spencer's or M &S. Pound lands. French Connection UK. Sir Alan Sugar. Roman Abramovitch are just two that started that way.

The reason for this inclusion is to inform people that with drive and ambition and a certain amount of good luck new business people that start in markets can attain high levels. Not everybody will achieve what the aforementioned businesses and individuals have but most people wishing to start selling in markets can eke out a reasonable to good income if they prepare properly and be prepared to work hard. Market trading may not suit everyone because it means early starts and sometimes late finishes and enduring all weathers.

Our advice to any potential new traders is to research well before you decide on the products that you wish to sell. Quality and price are paramount considerations. Join the National Market Traders Federation to take advantage of their excellent and very cheap public liability insurance. If you sell food to register with your local authority. Lastly before you buy any stock assuming you have a stall or unit to work from take a look around the markets until you find the ones that you are interested in and are likely to be accepted.