This post was first published by The Croydon Citizen on 15/12/2017.
How people power brought a wonderful community enterprise to Thornton Heath
The upcoming three-month trial of a new street market on Thornton Heath High Street (and the top of Brigstock Road) is welcome news. The organisers have insisted on a local ‘makers” focus, so it is mainly artisans’ wares and handcrafted goods made by local small businesses; think homemade jewellery, planters, children’s books and pieces of art, as well as both sweet and savoury foodstuffs to eat on the day.
This is a great idea to my mind, as it makes the market unique and hopefully makes us locals think ‘use it or lose it’ in a way we might not with the big chains.
The first outing of the market will be the Christmas edition on Saturday 16th December, when the market will have the festive bonuses of live music and Christmas carols, Santa’s Grotto, Christmas street lights and of course the Clock Tower Christmas tree. And for a truly Christmassy feel, there will even be a one day open-air ice rink!
Fundraising has been a fantastic community effort
The ice rink will no doubt be the main draw for the children and the young at heart. I must admit, when I first heard about it I thought it was wildly ambitious… especially as the organisers needed to raise £2,100 in four weeks (eek!) But through a mixture of donations from the community, local business donations, and fundraising events in two pubs… the team is NEARLY there! At time of writing there was over £2,000 raised, so by time of publishing this, I fully expect them to be over the line which is great news and a fantastic effort from all involved.
Ice skating is so exhilarating, and even if you are rubbish at it (like my husband) it’s still so much fun for everyone. Even the onlookers will be caught up in the atmosphere – the people’s faces as they whizz round is just hilarious. When I was pregnant with my daughter I went to an open air ice rink with work mates – for obvious reasons I wasn’t on the ice – but I do remember just laughing for half an hour straight as saw people try (and sometimes fail) to stay upright.
This market has the chance to be something really positive for the area
Shopping (especially gift shopping) isn’t really one of the first things that spring to mind when most people think of Thornton Heath. Our current shops, while valued and appreciated, tend to be functional so it will be nice to bring in something different to create more of a buzz on the market days. This buzz can only benefit the existing shops, and as I understand it the real dream would be for some of the market vendors to perhaps take on one of the empty retail units on the high street. I’m looking forward to getting a few stocking gifts like homemade moisturisers and ceramics, as well as loads of treats and mulled wine for the festive celebrations.
My message to other Croydonians is this – even if you don’t fancy ice skating, come down and see! You don’t not need to buy anything, but why not come down and have a browse? This market has the chance to be something really positive. It’s been the people-power of the organising committee which has brought the project to this stage, it will be the people-power of volunteers on the day to help make everything run smoothly and now we need the people-power of residents to show up in great numbers and make it a viable thriving community market.