Swaffham market celebrations can give major boost to tourism, says anniversary organiser

Business was brisk for Ward Nurseries of Ringstead (Swpa0015) ANL-140708-133723001
Business was brisk for Ward Nurseries of Ringstead (Swpa0015) ANL-140708-133723001

Celebrations to mark 800 years of Swaffham’s market represent a golden opportunity to create a lasting tourism legacy for the town, according to organisers.

A host of events are planned throughout 2015 to commemorate the anniversary of the earliest known reference to a market in the town in 1215.

Digital information boards around the Market Place and an enhanced town trail are among the ideas that officials hope will keep visitors coming to the town long after the celebrations have finished.

Project co-ordinator David Bek said they want to tap into the market generated by visitors heading to tourist hotspots such as the North Norfolk coast and the Broads.

He said: “It’s a huge opportunity and one we have got to grab. All of the organisations have to get on board and contribute.

“That’s why we’re really keen to use the chance to improve the tourist infrastructure. If we do it properly, it can be enduring.”

The main celebration weekend is scheduled for July 18 and 19, though it is expected that a number of different events will take place throughout the year.

Mr Bek said one of the proposals was to hold a dedicated weekend of events promoting all the different markets which take place in the town throughout the year, though no date has yet been set.

However, the celebration plans have already won the backing of town councillors, who agreed to provide a £20,000 undertaking to fund the cost of the celebrations at their meeting last Wednesday.

David Wickerson, one of the authority’s representatives on the Town Team, said: “Every effort is being made to obtain funding from external sources.”

But, calling on his colleagues to provide financial backing, he added: “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Swaffham to promote itself.”

Historical re-enactments are among the entertainments proposed during the main celebration weekend, while the meeting was told that a park and ride system may be set up at the Nicholas Hamond Academy.

Deputy mayor Anne Thorp said: “I think the Town Team are to be congratulated for the work they have done.”