An ancient market in a North Shropshire town is being given a new lease of life by opening twice a week.

Starting from tomorrow, (September 7) traders will be welcoming shoppers on Thursdays as well as Tuesdays at the 800-year- old market in Ellesmere town centre.

It’s all part of an ambitious plan to improve footfall following the launch of a new company to run the market hall in Scotland Street.

A new community interest company, Project SY12,   has taken over the running of the hall from the previous operator Altogether Ellesmere, which  had been running for 12 year.   It has a new board of directors,  including local  business and council  representatives, led by 28 year old Alex Hunter who runs his own events management company.

“Our aim is to put Ellesmere back on the map as a market town,” said Alex

“Since taking over, we’ve already extending the opening hours of the Tuesday market so that we close at 2 pm instead of mid-day,” said Alex. This has produced a slow, but steady growth in business, and now we want to expand and take things a step forward by opening the market on Thursdays, too, with some new traders, as well as some who are already here on Tuesdays.”

Sixteen stalls will be open tomorrow,  with  eight traders coming from Oswestry market and others from elsewhere.

“For the Oswestry traders, it helps them to fill the gap between having their stalls there on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays,” he explained.  “We’ll have a wide variety of goods on offer, so we hope people will take the opportunity to come in and and buy.”

“We also see it as an ‘incubator’ for start-up businesses who might want to go on and open a shop or an office in Ellesmere.

“There’s a lot of potential and it’s been demonstrated by the response to our first late-night shopping event which attracted more than 400 customers.

Three more are planned – on the 29th of September, then at the Ellesmere winter festival on 24th of November and the 15th of December.

The new organisation has also taken over the running of the monthly Farmers’ Market, which will be held outdoors on Sunday, September 10th at the wharf head, in front of the town’s Tesco store.

Plans are already underway for the Ellesmere Food festival to be held  next June and the revival of the annual Summer Festival in August for the first time since before  the pandemic.

The marked hall has been given a new look with canopied stalls and a  three-year refurbishment programme is underway.

The project will also will also aim to widen the use of the market hall as a multi-purpose building for sport and other activities.

Ellesmere was granted a charter to hold a regular market in 1221 by Lady Joan, illegitimate daughter of King John, who married Llewellyn the Great, Prince of Wales when she was aged 14 or 15. Part of her dowry was the castle and manor of Ellesmere – an attempt by the King to quell border disputes. However, there was anger locally when new taxes were imposed on residents.