IT’S the market town where no market has been held for around 150 years.
It even has a Market Square ... but no market graces its ancient cobbles.
However, the spirit of the past could now be revived at remote Allendale in Northumberland where early moves are afoot to revive the market that no living soul can remember.
The last known reference comes in the 1872 Imperial Gazette of England and Wales, in which John Marius Wilson refers to a weekly market held on a Friday.
The 1868 National Gazetteer also refers to a Friday market – but there’s nothing between then and now.
Amanda Galbraith, who runs the Forge art studio opened in the Market Square by Prince Edward last summer, took the idea of a new open market to Allendale Parish Council – and received an enthusiastic response.
It is seen as a way giving local traders an extra platform to sell their wares, as well as boosting tourism.
“It is only a conversation at this stage,” says Amanda, “but the subject has cropped up a few times recently and so I took it along to the parish council and they were massively supportive.
“It would be a very grass-roots market for local people – so many things are made, baked and brewed here.
“A lot of small businesses that we support at The Forge are kicking off in the recession and would like to get their businesses moving. This would help them do that, and get to know their customer base.
“What we’ve got in mind really is a showcase of the Allen Valley – a cultural market, perhaps one day a month, perhaps more, that would be nice for visitors as well as local people.
“I’ve been talking about it since 2008, and now the idea is building up all the time.”
Robert Philipson, Allendale Parish Council vice-chairman, said: “We would support it, as long as the existing traders in the Market Square who pay their rates are happy with it – and it seems they are.
“The more people we can bring in to Allendale, the better it would be.
“With the price of petrol now, people are thinking twice about coming out into the countryside, so having another good reason to come out would be a good thing.”
Robert, born and bred in Allendale and with a family tree going back to the late 1700s, admits he has no recollection of any of his family talking of the old weekly market.
He says: “I don’t remember anyone ever mentioning it, but it must have been there in the far-off days – after all, it is called the Market Square.”
Allendale’s current population is 2,200 – but in the prime days of lead mining in the late 19th century over 6,000 lived there. That was also the peak of the old market.
But when the lead mines closed, so too did many other businesses.
There is no better authority on the history of Allendale than 100-year-old Allen Smith, the veteran guiser who still leads the famous New Year Tar Bar’l ceremony in the Market Square.
But even Allen says: “There’s never been a market there in all my time, so it must have been a long time ago.
“Mind you, I remember the old horse market – I saw a couple of them, the last when I was seven. They used to trot the horses up and down the road.
“It would be a grand idea to have a market in the square – it would certainly bring something extra to the old place.”