Through the 1970’s and 1980’s, Morpeth Market became a very successful street market run by the local council. But towards the end of the ‘80’s and in the early ‘90’s, it suffered from competition with private sector markets springing up in neighbouring towns. In 1999, alongside the 800th anniversary celebration, the local council launched a monthly farmers’ market in Morpeth, which is still thriving. And several of the producers who started up businesses selling at the farmers’ market are now regulars at the Wednesday Charter Market, giving it a real local feel.
In 2002-3, the Market Place in Morpeth was refurbished and expanded. And in 2005, the market was relocated onto the Market Place bringing it back into the heart of the town. Since 2002, the council has also run a ‘markets partnership’ bringing together council officers, traders from both the Wednesday and Morpeth received its Market Charter from King John in 1199, and so celebrated the 800th anniversary of the market in 1999.
Up until the 1950’s, it was a major livestock market - at one stage it was the largest livestock market in the North East - and the local Morpeth dialect still has a number of words deriving from Romany reflecting this history.
In September 2008, Morpeth experienced the worst flood in over a hundred years, with more than a thousand homes and businesses evacuated. Nonetheless, the Charter Market on the following Wednesday, just four days after the flood, went ahead as usual. And markets went on to play an important role in demonstrating that Morpeth was ‘open for business’ after the flood.
And today, the Wednesday market is bucking national trends, and is making a real contribution to Morpeth’s overall retail offer. Morpeth Charter Market is held every Wednesday from 9am till 4pm on Morpeth Market Place.There are typically twenty stalls and more through the summer, falling to a dozen after Christmas.
As well as traditional market stalls, several local producers have joined the weekly market from the monthly farmers’ market creating a special local identity. So as well as scarves, clothes, household goods, garden ornaments and a wide range of nursery plants, sweets, two wet-fish stalls and the all-important fruit & veg stall - there is also handbaked bread, pies, cakes, muffins, handmade fudge and, in season, lamb and game. There really is More In Morpeth.
And there’s usually a hotfood stall selling bacon sarnies, burgers with either spicy soups or a hog roast. The market is run by Northumberland County Council are further information including forms to apply for a stall are on their website.
Morpeth Farmers’ Market was launched in 1999 and is now run by Northumberland County Council.Up until the Great Flood of 2008, it was held in Morpeth Town Hall on a Sunday – but since October 2008, it is held on Morpeth Market Place on the first Saturday of every month (except January) – running from 9am-2:30pm
Although farmers’ markets are not limited only to farmers, traders must
Morpeth Market is certified under the national FARMA scheme as abiding by these rules, and any discretionary exceptions are clearly marked.
Northumberland is a great county for rearing livestock, so there’s a lot of meat for sale on the farmers’ market including:
Organic beef, Northumberland hill lamb (in season), mutton, rare breed pork – and poultry, not only free range chicken but guinea fowl and duck too.
There’s also game in season – venison, pheasant, pigeon, rabbit – even grey squirrel - and fish and shellfish.
And fresh fruit and veg in season – the Northumberland strawberry season runs from June to September, but our asparagus season is just 3-4 weeks in May.
Then there’s bread including sour dough and rye, pastries and a wide range of cakes and pies – and of course jams, preserves, chutneys and honey.
Local Northumberland cheeses, handmade chocolates and fudge – and sometimes a local microbrewery selling their own bottled beer. And its not just food: we regularly have traders selling perennial and annual plants and herbs, and a local photographer selling his own images of Northumberland and Tyneside.
Typically, there are over twenty producers at each market through the summer rising to perhaps thirty towards Christmas, and 12-15 in the winter months after Christmas. Farmers' markets allow local producers to sell direct to the public.
Northumberland County Council as operators of Morpeth Farmers’ Market are members of NE England Farmers’ Markets (NEEFM), the umbrella body promoting and supporting farmers’ markets in the region. Market dates and up-to-date information can be found on their website www.neefm.org.uk
Chair, Morpeth Markets Partnership