There are some colourful characters in the town and the weekly market brings them all out!
Charismatic stallholders selling the best fresh Yorkshire produce entertain the regulars and visitors alike. Local MP, Rushi Sunak, is sometimes seen shopping here and mixing with the community. Friday mornings in Leyburn are quite an experience!
The Market dates back to 1686 when Leyburn town was granted a market charter by King Charles II as it formed a crossroads between Bedale, Richmond, Middleham, Reeth and Hawes. The much earlier market in Wensley needed a replacement after the plague devastated the village and the remaining population fled.
Today Leyburn market is thriving and every Friday the market square is a busy, colourful and lively place. Henry and I are passionate about the quality and variety of local produce we serve to our guests and therefore try to visit the market on as many Fridays as we can.
This week I wandered up to capture some images of the characters and atmosphere of this traditional event. I had such an enjoyable morning interacting with the stall holders keen to pose for photographs and to share stories and banter.
I asked for a grin from the couple on the Cheesy Grin stall. There’s always an encouraging queue here for their wonderful cheeses both local and from further afield. They always have some delicious samples I cannot resist as well as some guaranteed banter. I love finding out where the cheeses come from. Steve and Mo demonstrate a phenomenal knowledge and enthusiasm about all things Cheesy. Their cheesy trailer even has an original black and white advertisement posted up promoting the benefits of eating Lard!
In Leyburn we are very well supplied with fruit and vegetables beautifully displayed over several stalls from as early as 6 am by a cheerful bunch of hard working staff. The two lads from Carricks weren't camera shy! The competition is tough here though, with the equally abundant stall belonging to, no less than, Colletts Fruit and Vegetables sidling up next to Carricks in the market square!
From here I head to another ideal photo opportunity – the well-stocked fish market. This is probably my most regularly visited of all the stalls and today, as usual, there is quite a queue here as it is so popular. It feels like a step back in time as the two men dressed in their wide plastic aprons greet many of the customers by name, knowing their orders and keeping a leather book and pencil for the accounts. I request our kippers and a traditional fish pie whilst clicking away with the camera to capture the atmosphere.
My wandering continues, past the garden stall with spring bedding plants, the hand woven rug merchant, the Bedale Bakery, the jams and chutneys lady under her bunting and the clothing, shoes and bric-a-brac. There is sometimes a stationery and card seller, an electrical stall, a fabric table and, not forgetting Ken and Jackie, who sell everything else you could ever want and probably a few things you’d never knew you did! These two characters spar off each other in Leyburn’s comical double act!
During one weekend in July, an annual event celebrates the 1940's. The market square and stalls take on an entirely different look. Old ambulances, rusty upright bicycles and even a spitfire have appeared. Almost every Leyburn resident and many visitors dress in smart uniforms and dresses of the era for the Tea Dances and to sit outside the pubs listening to George Formby musicians.
As I head to the top of the town, I feel compelled to visit Campbells Delicatessen – why wouldn’t you? People travel from far afield to visit this store. It has such an array of stock, I even discovered snail pate for sale here! The first floor is filled with the largest stock of spirits and wines in the north of England.
A quick wave to two other well known local characters, Kev in Halls Butchers and Ken in the ‘Aladdins Cave’ of an Antique Shop on my way back to Lodge gives me a warm glow that comes with being part of a community such as Leyburn.