Longridge rejuvenated by succesful farmers' market
PUBLISHED: 10:15 26 February 2013 | UPDATED: 15:48 17 April 2016
A farmers' market which has helped to boost business in Longridge was the brainchild of a teenager. Emma Mayoh spoke to this enterprising youngster
What Thomas Calderbank lacks in years, he makes up for in determination. For the past 18 months he has devoted his time to establishing and running Longridge Farmers’ Market, which has gone from 18 traders to a respectable 30 every month.
More importantly for this busy Ribble Valley community, the market has drawn as many as 1,000 people into the town.
While setting up this kind of event may not be that unusual, what makes Thomas’ story different is the fact he was just 17 when he held the first market. He was sitting A-levels in politics, economics and physics while running it and locals have credited his initiative for boosting community pride and business in the town. It was when he started volunteering at the heritage centre at The Old Station in Longridge that he first thought about taking on the challenge.
‘There was this large space at The Old Station that I thought was being wasted,’ he said. ‘I thought it was a shame. I decided to get a group of traders together and it just built enormously in popularity. We were soon able to fill the whole venue and it spilled out onto land at the Towneley Arms. It got around that the market was quite big and people wanted to be involved. I ended up turning people away.
‘The local businesses definitely notice they have more people through their doors when the market is on. It’s also become a popular place for people to socialise. It was quite daunting at first but I’m really pleased with how it’s developed. I do feel proud.’
Thomas used experience from his participation in the Young Enterprise scheme at Longridge High School – he and fellow pupils created a cookery book with recipes from local chefs – to help get his idea off the ground.
The first one was held October 2011, with The Old Station operating at full capacity. Over the past 18 months the event has grown. Food producers from around the county attend, including Longridge-based The Ginger Baker, vegetable growers Wareings in Tarleton and Lancashire Life Food and Drink Award winner Dough 2B Different, who also have a bakery in Accrington.
Thomas said the market has helped boost people’s knowledge of the produce available in the area but he also hoped it has helped showcase the charms of his home town and encouraged more people to visit. He said: ‘In Lancashire, and particularly the Ribble Valley, there are such a great number of local producers and I thought it was a shame we didn’t recognise them enough in Longridge.
‘The market has also meant we’ve been able to make the most of the town too. The market has had a really positive effect on Longridge and it is something that is for the people of the town. Everyone has been very supportive and people tell me that it has done a lot of good for the area.’
Thomas recently stepped down from running the event, now staged on the last Saturday of each month at Longridge Civic Hall, to make more time for the politics and economics degree he is studying at Lancaster University. But Longridge Social Enterprise Company, the community organisation who first encouraged Thomas to pursue his ambitions, will continue to operate the market.
Rupert Swarbrick, chairman of Longridge Social Enterprise Partnership, said: ‘Thomas has worked so hard to get it established and there is no way we would like to lose something as important as this. The town is jammed full on a market day and it has done a lot for the area. What Thomas has achieved is remarkable. It is now up to us to make sure the market’s success continues.’
You can find a selection of farmers’ markets to visit in our food section. There are more on the the Visit Lancashire website. Log onto www.visitlancashire.com