The Keswick Market Pirate Day

The Keswick Market Pirate Day

Severely hit by flooding in the Winter of 2015, the town of Keswick in the heart of the Lake District here celebrates 750 years of its local market during Love Your Local Market fortnight 2016.

In January ahead of the Great British Market Awards, being held at the NABMA One Day Conference in Birmingham, we asked Phil Byers about his fantastic Love Your Local Market event.

Q: So what new start opportunities are there at Keswick Market?

We at Geraud are always ready to offer help and support at Keswick. The other Traders are welcoming, approachable and friendly. We have quite a lot of younger Traders which is bucking the trend in the industry and also we have people who have restarted their working careers from ailing industries such as mining and engineering.

Q: Is social media important to your organisation and do you use it? 

We have started a Facebook page this year which is really popular, this gets the message out. The Trader profile part is particularly popular. We had over 3,000 views on a recent post, this is a lighthearted but important. Facebook also is an easy way to answer customer questions. The social media is a very good way to promote all the markets we run in Allerdale. It was very important in advertising our “Pirate Day” for LYLM and showing off our video and photos taken on the day.

Q: What examples of innovation can you share with us? 

The main innovative idea we explored this year was “Keswick on Tour” it is an idea of ours to take our Market to other parts of the region. We started with taking 30 stalls to Silloth, to help support an event on the Town Green, this was really well received and hopefully we can take the same or more elsewhere in the area.

Q: How do you promote links with the local community? 

We have helped by funding a large festive lantern made by the children of a local school, for the lantern parade at the Keswick Lights On event at Christmas 2015. This event was decimated by the awful storm and flood and had to be cancelled. This was revived for this years event and went down really well. The theme was Keswick Market. We also involved the children in “Pirate Day” with lots of activities, including a fancy dress competition and an amazingly popular treasure hunt. We always support community events for charity like Keswick’s Victorian Fayre each December with logistics and free gazebo hire.

Q: Can you tell us a bit about working with local partners? 

We at Keswick Market work day to day with our official partner Allerdale Council. We do also work with Keswick Town Council in three events of theirs. The “Scruffs ” dog show the Keswick music festival event and the “Light Switch on”. This means a split of the profit with Keswick Town Council, which helps them fund future events. We also work with local Shopkeepers, showing that we are there in the Town to work together, not take out of the Town. This is done especially with the Packhorse Court shopping area, which is a bit off the Market square and feels a bit isolated when the Market is on. We help with free hire of gazebos for their promotional events and involved them in “Pirate Day” by putting some of the entertainment in Packhorse Court, including Mickey and Minnie Mouse mascots and free candyfloss. The Pirate Parade, was led through the Packhorse led by the Town Crier and the Mayor and lots of Pirates and Princesses.

Q: Anything else?

Pirates of Keswick was done for several reasons, we always do something for LYLM but this year we decided to make special effort. The first reason is that 2016 is the 740th year of the charter. This may be unusual because it has been consecutively held in the same area of Town. Secondly, 2015 saw the worst flooding that Keswick had ever seen, the Town was devastated by “Storm Desmond”. Trade in the Town was ruined not only up to Christmas but well into 2016 because the main link road to the south of the County was closed until May, as it had been washed away by the flood water. Many of our Traders were flooded either in their homes or business, some both. All of our Traders suffered financially, as did the whole Town. The most proud day I have had as Market Manager, was on the Thursday after the worst flood when nearly all our Traders came to Market to support Keswick, there were hardly any customers but the feedback was so positive.

Pirate Day was a real community event brought about to involve the whole Town. It was an effort to unite Geraud, the Traders, the Shopkeepers and most importantly the Townsfolk, who had suffered so much. It was also a celebration of the main road opening again, which it did at the start of May. Our main charity benefactor on the Day was Blood Bikes who raised over £500.00.

We also had our Blake, who is the 5 year old son of one of our traders, who was our “Youngest Trader”. Blake who has Cerebral Palsy had his own stall for the day, specially made by Geraud and sold sweets that we donated, he raised over £200.00 for a local charity for people with learning difficulties. We also had a cake that was made in a local bakery to celebrate our 740th birthday. The Video made on the day shows how much fun it was and how the Traders, Geraud and the whole Town worked together.