Wiltshire Publications

Issue 461 – Country Market celebrates milestone anniversary

WESTBURY’S Country Market celebrated its 25th anniversary in the town on Friday 7th May.

The anniversary was marked during the market’s regular Friday morning session in All Saints Church Hall, where the town crier and new mayor joined in the celebrations alongside producers and customers.
The market was started on the 10th May 1985, and has been going strong ever since, with some of its first producers and customers still attending the market regularly today.
Market manager Mary Kneen said, “We wanted to make today really special. We’ve got the town crier to announce the market, and we’ve got a cake and decorations – we thought it would be nice. People say that we haven’t got a weekly market in Westbury, but here we are, and we’ve been here every Friday for 25 years! We have lots of customers every week, with both new and loyal ones coming in.
“The market is one of 14 in the county, and 400 nationwide. It sells a wide range of produce, including cakes, savouries, bread, preserves, pickles and locally produced honey and fresh eggs, as well as flowers, plants, crafts and jewellery. The producers can also make items to order.
“We all work as a team, we’ve got many producers, and we all muck in,” added Mary. “Different producers specialise in different things.”
The market was started by members of Westbury’s Women’s Institute. As founder, Lyn McGill continues to be involved with the market and explained how it started. “The impetus was to give something to Westbury, and to give something to the community,” she said. “The market gave us the chance to produce something, to have fun, and to socialise, and could be open to both men and women.”
The market later became independent of the WI because of rules regarding charities and profitability.
Today, the market continues to meet its initial aims, as many regular customers testify. While people rely on the market for good quality fresh produce, it also provides an invaluable opportunity for them to meet and socialise. Every week there are chairs and tables set out so that friends can take the time to enjoy tea and coffee together.
Lyn said, “The support is great. Some have been coming for all these years! Over the years we’ve seen producers come and go, but we’ve all become friends. It’s a meeting place for customers and traders of all ages. We rely on our customers, and customers rely on us.”
Producers and customers now look forward to many more years of successful trading. “We’ve got a good customer base, and as long as we can, we will keep it going!” said Mary.