Markets are key to Newport’s regeneration
Claire Kennard is passionate about regeneration and was the project manager for the Shaping Newport Project from Sept 2018 to August 2020. Part of her role in the partnership was as the Newport Town Centre Champion; acting as a visible, single point of contact for the town with the brief to drive positive change.
Claire was the author of the Newport High Street Heritage Action Zone bid application and the programme plan and has detailed background knowledge of the aims and objectives of the regeneration strategy for Newport.
“One of the things we discovered when looking at the regeneration of Newport was that it had lost its sense of community – Newport had lost its heart.
“When we asked people about Newport they kept coming up with the same thing – this feeling of loss.
“We realised that Newport was a historic market town without a market. A market was first granted to Newport in 1184 by Richard de Redvers. The original design of the market meant there was a cattle market in St James Square, a corn market in St Thomas Square and outside the Town Hall was the butter market.
“Without a market there was a sense of emptiness – Newport has a strong indigenous population with people who have lived here for generations, with a strong cultural memory.
“A market is more than just a place to sell things, it brings communities together. Speaking to people about what had changed in Newport and what had been lost along the way, it was clear that the market was the missing link.
“We have a wonderful Farmers Market that runs on a Friday from 8am to 2pm.
“And Sarah Chatwin and I now run a market every Saturday – and I just love it because it is so much fun. It has brought vitality back.
“On the 17th April 2021, when the shops were allowed to open again after the lockdown, we started the market and people liked the fact we were in the open air – they seemed to feel safer.
“The market is seen as a community asset and people with disabilities enjoy the accessibility you get from the outdoor shopping experience and the community connections.
“From June 2021 onwards the markets became a regular feature every Saturday. Local traders bring their produce and we sell it on their behalf, with an 11.75% commission
“Sarah and I both have other full-time jobs and we do this on a voluntary basis at the moment. We both want to see a positive change.
“We have different numbers of traders each week and as we build awareness, it is a challenge to find a balance between attracting enough footfall to make it worth the traders time and having a good mix of items to sell to attract the people to come and buy.
“As well as selling local food from the Island such as The Garlic farm produce, Isle of Wight mushrooms, handmade chocolates and produce from the Living Larder local organic farm, we also sell local crafts and handmade cards. The Island is full of talented artisans and we showcase makers such as Shanine from Seacyle Studios who makes upcyled beach art, Dee from Deejavue Art with her funky paintings and cards and many more such as Leif Mariner’s clocks made out of old drum kits. Add to that a growing core of regular stalls and the craft market is thriving”
“To build interest, we have had buskers performing their music, free face painting and pumpkin carving for Halloween. We want to build public engagement and see the market as being the foundation to drive regeneration in Newport. We’ve been really grateful to the Heritage Action Zone for financial support which helped us create a programme of activity and entertainment throughout the summer.”