TRADERS are gearing up for a major transformation this weekend as Morpeth’s market is given a face-lift.
The new-look market will be unveiled on Saturday following substantial investment in stalls and facilities.
And to mark the relaunch, the monthly farmers’ market will be accompanied by a celebration of local produce in the first Morpeth Food and Drink Festival.
There will be cookery demonstrations by local chefs, competitions and special offers in many of the town’s eateries.
The activities have been organised by new market partners Sanderson Arcade, Northumberland County Council, Morpeth Town Council and the Morpeth Town Team.
The Herald revealed in July that Sanderson Arcade would take on responsibility for helping to run both the weekly Wednesday market and Farmers’ Market.
Now stylish blue and white stalls have been purchased, featuring the More In Morpeth branding, and special banners promoting the markets have been erected in the Market Place.
Anchor points have been installed to ensure the markets can continue to run during adverse weather, and there are also new power supplies and tables.
A marketing campaign is under way to promote the stalls.
Morpeth Markets Manager Neil Brown said: “I think it is brilliant. The relaunch is going to attract more people to the markets and hopefully with the food festival this weekend people who have never been to the market before will come along and try it.
“Our markets have been very good lately, particularly over the last 10 weeks when we have had about 18 traders regularly on Wednesdays and about 20 to 25 at the farmers’ market. We now have a waiting list of other traders who want to come along.
“There has been a bit of concern from some traders about the changes, but generally they are positive about them and are looking forward to having some more promotion.
“We have some fantastic food on the market, including local bread made in Morpeth and lamb from just up the road, and there is everything you could think of. It’s the first time we have had a food festival, but I think it will be really good.”
Morpeth holds one of the oldest Market Charters in the country, granted in 1199.
Morpeth Town Team Chairman David Lodge said: “We really are on the countdown now to the new market and we’ve had a great response from everyone in the town over the last few weeks.
“This is a really unique project and we’re confident it will help to put Morpeth on the map and bring more people into the town.”