New traders hoping to put the buzz back into historic Skegness Market

There was a time when people travelled from far and wide to visit Skegness Market.

Skegness Markeyt was established in the mid-1960s.
Skegness Markeyt was established in the mid-1960s.

Fred Nicholls - a tall, distinguished figure with a white goatee beard and trilby hat - could often be seen walking around town with a miniature pony pulling a floral painted trailer adorned with Skegness Market signs.

It was the mid 1960s - and Skegness Market was bustling.

"Granddad was really into advertising and parked painted vehicles as you came into Skegness on Wainfleet Road and Burgh Road," recalled his -grand-daughter, Vicki, fondly.

Reece Shaw of Acro's Little Monsters is one of the new traders at Skegness Market.

"He was also really good to the traders, making sure there was only there was only a max of two stalls selling similar items but often only one.

"The market was so popular there was a long waiting list for a stall."

Its success saw it grow and Fred bought an old tin building opposite which became an indoor market and more land further up.

However with success came tragedy. Vicki said: ""When old buildings were being demolished in the late 1970s where the Hildreds Shopping Centre is now a huge wall collapsed on to the market.

Lacy Haller, 25, kooks after a music shop for her partner's granddad, Neil Thompson.

"I was there and it was horrific."

When Fred's wife died in the 1980s, he sold up and retired to Australia, and he lived there until he died.

"He really was wonderful, bless him," said Vicki.

Fred's market was sold to John Woodward and Gordon Hawkins but today is a shadow of its former self, covering a small area of Briar Way, close to the High Street.

Skegness Market underwent some refurbishment during the lockdown.

Tattered flags fly in the breeze above what was once heaving with visitors.

However, after a refurbishment of the stalls inside during lockdown, current traders say they still have a lot to offer - as well as plenty of opportunities for anyone looking for a selling space.

Seventy-two year old Spud Taylor has been trading on the market for just over 50 years.when Fred Nicholls had it.

"Tradewise, it's got a lot quieter," he said. "It was a novelty when the market first opened.

Shaun Barton hasn't regretted opening his shop - Wizards and Witches.

"It had only been open for two or three years when I first came - I was 17 then, although I've not been continuously on here.

"I still get a good share of support from local customers - if they need a rug, they know where to come.

"We don't get a lot of passing trade anymore. We watch the visitors walking by along High Street and just need them to come round the corner.

"We also need some new traders - there are some new ones but we need more.

"But it keeps me busy - I'm not planning to retire. I think they'll have to carry me out."

Among the new traders is Reece Shaw of Acro's Little Monsters, a babywear shop for premature to three-year-olds.

Claire Glew opened the Skegness Market Avon shop to make it easier for customers to stock up on products.

Reece explained he had personal reasons for joining the market.

"People are always telling me it is difficult to get clothes for premature babies, which is why I chose my range," he said.

"But I am hoping to have a baby myself and am currently looking for a surrogate. As a single man that has proven difficult, but at least I'll be prepared for when I do.

"I've been here for 22 weeks now and had a good summer, but it is getting quieter now.

"Lots of people say they didn't know we were here, but we believe we have a lot to offer.

"There are empty stalls that is true, but there are six new ones and more to come.

"We just need people to support us, especially the locals - we'd like to see it thriving again."

Shaun Barton hasn't regretted opening his shop - Wizards and Witches. Coming from a family of witches, he says having a niche business has been a bonus for him.

"I've been open since July and it's been really good," he said. "People have come to find me because there isn't anything like it in the area.

"A lot of people come in for crystals because of their health and well-being properties but we also have some Harry Potter stuff which is popular with the children, especially now it's Halloween.

"It's good to see more young people getting into it."

Next door, Claire Glew has opened the Skegness Market Avon Shop and was busy stocking up with her spicy Christmas range. She still takes booklets out to customers but opened the shop in June so customers could get products without having to wait for orders.

"It's been really good and we are trying to get the word out on social media but I think the empty stalls are off-putting for some people," she said.

"If they give us a try they will see we are selling a lot of unique stuff.

"We just need more people - we don't want to see the market disappear."

Lacy Haller, 25, was looking after the music shop owned by her partner's granddad, Neil Thompson.

"He's ben here selling 50s music for about 20 years," she said. "Some of these bands I have never heard of but we get a lot of interest."

Looking forward to opening shop is Sonya Newton of Nala's Den.

She moves to Skegness from Alford, having lost her business there during lockdown.

Nala's Den will feature fashion jewellery and gifts and Sonya is currently busy decorating in preparation.

"This is a new start for me and I'm really excited about it," she said. "I decised to come here because it's secure and stable.

"It was busy during the summer and although it's quieter now we are hoping the word gets around so more traders will come and more people will support us."

Skegness Market opens from Monday to Saturday from 10am to 4pm.

There are some vacant units which traders would love to see filled.
Fred Nicholls was a familiar figure around town advertising Skegness Market.
Painted vans advertising Skegness Market were parked on the roads leading into Skegness.
Skegness Market of the 1960s was bustling and soon expanded.
Fred Nicholls started Skegness market in the 1960s, retiring to Australia after selling up.