Market forces

Spring cleaning? All you need at Rye market

Our Thursday weekly market at the old cattle market in Rope Walk has been running for many years, generally open from 7:30am to usually mid-afternoon each week, selling all sorts of essentials as well as clothing, bric-a-brac, household goods, plants, meat and fruit and veg to name but a few. Stall holders have changed over the years, many well known faces have come and gone but some stalwarts remain and the introduction of new stall holders helps to keep the market alive but looking at it last week there were many stallholders who for whatever reason, were conspicuous by their absence.

‘Rainbow Pete’ providing live entertainment for shoppers at Rye’s weekly market whilst raising money for charity.

By contrast, on Fridays we have our Rye Country Market from 10am -11:30am at the Rye Community Centre on Conduit Hill where stalls sell cakes, preserves, savouries, free range eggs, seasonal vegetables, fruit, plants and handmade crafts. I am reliably informed that last week’s market was busy and productive.

Rye craft market

On Wednesdays we have the opportunity to go to Rye Farmers Market, situated on the car park at the rear of the Cinque Ports on Cinque Ports Street where you can find a selection of game and meats, cakes, jams and preserves, cheeses and pate.

In an ideal world, could all three markets be combined to operate on the same day, at the same venue and at the same time? Surely if this were possible wouldn’t they all win, would one market with a bigger choice of stalls benefit the stall holders and us, the consumers?

Rye Farmers’ Market

There are those who argue that the Thursday market takes up too much parking space which in turn causes congestion elsewhere as visitors are forced to find somewhere else to park. It has been said on many occasion that many stalls seem to duplicate what they sell and the stalls which are needed either aren’t there at all or are there infrequently. Is Thursday the right day to have the market or is an alternative day going to attract more customers? On that point, what has happened to all the coaches which used to arrive in fleets, is Covid still the reason for them not being there in such numbers or is there another underlying reason?

I recently asked the stall holders at the farmers market why they don’t join the Thursday market, but it’s because on a Thursday they are committed to pitches elsewhere. Why is the country market on a Friday, could they not group together with the farmers market? I appreciate one is indoor the other outdoor but is there scope to change? I’m sure there are logical answers to all these questions but from a lay persons viewpoint I’m not aware of many other towns who are able to offer three separate markets every week and it begs the question are there enough punters to warrant having all three at three different venues on three different days of the week?

I appreciate that all three markets aim their products or produce at different sectors to different profiles of customer, call me old fashioned but is there a case for all three to consider working together or is the current arrangement beneficial to all concerned and the only possible or viable solution?

Image Credits: Nick Forman , Rye News Library , Susan Benn .


  1. I often wonder the same thing. The Thursday market is an embarrassment to the town: closing the car park for a load of old tat is not a good look. I used to go for the veg but it’s not worth the trouble as prices have risen and choice has fallen. Time to end it before it dies a death?

    The Friday and Wednesday markets offer excellent products (mostly at pretty reasonable prices: you’ll not get better bread anywhere, or cheaper, than from Len and Sue’s stall on Friday). Be great if they could combine and form a focus for shopping in town on one day of the week.

  2. I have to agree with Phil. The Thursday market offers the town nothing. Many of the herds that come down in coaches hardly ever spend in the town. The fact that a meat lorry blaring out music and bringing its produce from miles away doesn’t help the likes of Rye Butchers, who in my personal opinion, provide top quality meat of which a high percentage is local produce.

    I’m all for artisan products from local businesses, which are both good for the local economy and indeed enhances sustainability. A combination of the other markets on one day would be a great idea.

  3. The Rye market has been going for years, and not only attracts visitors,but many from the outlaying villages,it give people the freedom of choice,from some of the monopoly in Rye,yes some tat,and also have very good plant stall, and various others, if the market goes it will be another nail in the coffin for many in Rye, who have low budgets and go their weekly, but of course we will always have the well off lambasting against a proven winner for Rye,that’s why it’s been around for over 30 years.

  4. Combining the markets would be difficult and would take away the variety that it brings to the town. Thanks Phil for the positive comments about the bread and rolls. I’d find it difficult to do other days as it clashes with my retirement duties. The way the Friday market is run is for local produce and artwork, the sales provide a percentage to support the Woman’s Institute / Rye Community Centre and provide locals a reasonable place to meet, chat and make new friends. Those that sell their artwork & produce at the Friday market have to pay a percentage of their sales, rather than paying for a table so it’s a positive way to run a market.

  5. Chalk and cheese come to mind!

    Although, the Wednesday and Friday markets are very similar.
    That would make a good partnership.

    The Thursday market is going through a difficult patch.
    But the plant stall is always excellent. There is a fabulous bread and bakery stall.
    Veg stalls have come and gone since Stalwart Steve left. Great finds can be had at the antiques stall. Tools and accessories good. Materials good. Household goods aplenty.
    But I agree there is too much tat just destined for landfill.
    The Thursday market would benefit from a few more quality stalls.
    Good luck Stall holders its a hard life and a difficult job.

    • Ah Stalwart Steve – he was fantastic, brilliant produce and great price. I also miss the tent – army rations and all! Since those two left it is a bit of a sad place …

  6. How many of your fancy stalls would work in the weather that those poor traders have had to put up with recently. I can’t see how your lovely indoor craft market will fair with torrential rain and 50mph gails! You all jump on the band wagon about getting rid of the market because it takes up a car park for 1 day a week!! This market has been here in rye for many many years. It’s a shame Rye News didn’t go down 2 weeks ago when the market was full and the sun was shining. Like most markets January and February are always a poor time for the traders. Shame there is not more support and less criticism.

    • Artisan stalls aren’t fancy. They are local people providing goods for Rye people, not cheap tat that’s come from China! As I mentioned earlier, the coach loads that come in never spend money in the town and that is what creates a local burgeoning economy. Most locals don’t care that the car park is closed 1 day a week if the goods being sold are decent. I’m all for supporting a market, as long as it provides something valuable for the town

  7. Back in the day we didn’t need the local artisans selling their wares at pop up markets because they were in shops, wouldn’t it be better to make shops available at a reasonable rate so everyone was competing on a level playing field.
    Can you explain the difference between a market that brings nothing to Rye and the traders selling antiques, memorabilia or bygone days, call it what you will who are mostly from out of town.
    I was talking to a local trader the other day who was offered the opportunity to move to the High Street, his reply was “Why would I move to a street with nothing in it”
    Let’s get rid of the market and move Rye one step nearer to being a living museum.

    • The High St doesn’t have empty shops, its busy with both locals and tourists that spend money. The ‘traders’ selling antiques pay rates and rents to have their shops and they also spend money in the town.
      With the George due to re-open next month Rye is hardly nearer to be a living museum, in fact over the last 20 years its actually less of a museum. The demographic is changing and a lot of younger people are coming here to spend money. With St Pancras only 70 minutes away it offers easy access and has become a favourite destination for many.


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