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Organisers promise to look at traffic congestion after hugely popular Victorian Christmas Market



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THE Victorian Christmas Market in Stratford created one of the town’s busiest ever weekends, but with it came long tailbacks and traffic congestion.

Organisers have said traffic and parking concerns will be addressed in time for next year’s event, but the feedback from most retailers is that the market, which ran from Thursday to Sunday, gave a much-needed boost to the local economy.

Bridge Street was packed with visitors to the Stratford Victorian Christmas Market on Sunday. Photo: Iain Duck V5/12/21/9771. (53663134)
Bridge Street was packed with visitors to the Stratford Victorian Christmas Market on Sunday. Photo: Iain Duck V5/12/21/9771. (53663134)

While traffic clogged the roads around town, the pavements were packed with shoppers who had been missed last year because of the Covid restrictions.

New Covid concerns this year saw a number of other Christmas events cancelled across the country, which may have made Stratford’s market even more popular. Many hotels and restaurants reported being fully booked weeks in advance.

Jonathan Lea, manager and director of Loxleys Restaurant and Wine Bar in Sheep Street, said: “We’ve been here nine years and never seen it like that – the town was buzzing. It was a nice atmosphere and good to see the town like it used to be. I spoke with customers and they’d travelled to be here and the hotels were booked weeks before. It was just very, very, very busy.”

All things coffee was offer from Thomas Georgiou and John Georgiou of the Fresh Bean Trading Coompay at the Strarford Victorian Market. Photo: Iain Duck V5/12/21/9695. (53663128)
All things coffee was offer from Thomas Georgiou and John Georgiou of the Fresh Bean Trading Coompay at the Strarford Victorian Market. Photo: Iain Duck V5/12/21/9695. (53663128)

Stratforward BID suggested Stratford had just witnessed its busiest weekend ever.

Jasmine Gilhooly, the BID’s marketing and events manager, told the Herald: “Business was booming in Stratford during this year’s Victorian market.

“We had brass bands playing all weekend, which set a lovely atmosphere, and really got people in the mood for spending. The park and ride even had a sell-out.

“Our town hosts, manager Shan Smith, Terry Jones and Ali Buxton said it was great to see the town so busy in the run-up to Christmas, especially after last year.”

Denis Gwatkin was full of Christmas cheer as he sold his cider at the Stratford Victorian Christmas Market. Photo: Iain Duck V5/12/21/9795. (53663136)
Denis Gwatkin was full of Christmas cheer as he sold his cider at the Stratford Victorian Christmas Market. Photo: Iain Duck V5/12/21/9795. (53663136)

She added: “Overall, I think it was safe to say businesses had the best weekend ever.”

Mike Bonner, manager of Timeless Tales in Henley Street, agreed: “Takings were up. With the rent to pay every little helps. I know getting in and out of town was difficult, but there’s a trade-off for what the market brings and most people wore masks.”

Breakfasts proved to be a big hit with customers at Boston Tea Party, also in Henley Street, as assistant manager Jess Knights explained: “It was a record-breaking four days for us with big sales in breakfasts, coffee and alcohol. We had quite a few visitors from up north. It was wonderful and vibrant and we’re very proud of the staff.”

The Mayor of Stratford accompanied by his wife and mayoress Pauline opened Startford Victorian Market on Thursday evening. Photo: Mark Williamson V5/12/21/9464. (53663123)
The Mayor of Stratford accompanied by his wife and mayoress Pauline opened Startford Victorian Market on Thursday evening. Photo: Mark Williamson V5/12/21/9464. (53663123)

Those traffic queues, however, did have an impact on some with reports of gridlock on Loxley Road, Tiddington Road, Banbury Road, Shipston Road and Warwick Road.

A Stratford resident, who did not wish to be identified, said: “The Victorian market might be good for the town, but it cost me £20 to complete the half-mile journey from my house to the railway station.”

Stratford District Council said in a statement: “The feedback from the Victorian Christmas Market is generally positive, with both traders and town centre businesses reporting a significant increase in customers at this event, with even hotels all being full.

“This year’s event resulted in unprecedented visitor numbers surpassing all expectations, providing a much-needed festive boost to local businesses who have struggled with the impacts of Covid-19 for nearly two years.

“Because it is a free town centre event it is very difficult to estimate the number of visitors; however, in light of the visitor numbers the councils will look at what additional measures can be taken to manage traffic flow and parking in and around the town ahead of next year’s event.”

A carousel made a colourful spectacle in Rother Streetat Startford Victorian Market Photo: Mark Williamson V5/12/21/9436. (53663110)
A carousel made a colourful spectacle in Rother Streetat Startford Victorian Market Photo: Mark Williamson V5/12/21/9436. (53663110)
Alison Chamberlain and her daughter Paige Chamberlain were kept busy on their Pinms & Gins stall at.Stratford Victorian Christmas Market. Photo: Iain Duck V5/12/21/9759. (53663133)
Alison Chamberlain and her daughter Paige Chamberlain were kept busy on their Pinms & Gins stall at.Stratford Victorian Christmas Market. Photo: Iain Duck V5/12/21/9759. (53663133)
Rising above it all at the Stratford Victorian Christmas Market were stilt men Steve Kaos, right,.Jebb the Jester. Photo: Iain Duck V5/12/21/9752. (53663132)
Rising above it all at the Stratford Victorian Christmas Market were stilt men Steve Kaos, right,.Jebb the Jester. Photo: Iain Duck V5/12/21/9752. (53663132)
Louise Hattton of Stratford Vocals, centre, and some of her students spent Thursday evening collecting money for the Samaritans Stratford Victorian Market. Photo: Mark Williamson V5/12/21/9439. (53663111)
Louise Hattton of Stratford Vocals, centre, and some of her students spent Thursday evening collecting money for the Samaritans Stratford Victorian Market. Photo: Mark Williamson V5/12/21/9439. (53663111)
Looking very Victorian at the market was artist Ben Staves and his father Tom. Photo: Iain Duck V5/12/21/9708. (53663129)
Looking very Victorian at the market was artist Ben Staves and his father Tom. Photo: Iain Duck V5/12/21/9708. (53663129)
Natalie Wilcox as Puck, right, and Emma Sian Cooper Thursday, characters from the Shakespeare’s Schoolroom Santa event entertained visitors to the Victorian market. Photo: Iain Duck V5/12/21/9776 .. (53663135)
Natalie Wilcox as Puck, right, and Emma Sian Cooper Thursday, characters from the Shakespeare’s Schoolroom Santa event entertained visitors to the Victorian market. Photo: Iain Duck V5/12/21/9776 .. (53663135)
Phil Lees from Midsummer Garden, right, joined forces with Wayne Johnson from the Queens Head pub to sell festive treats and beer at Stratford Victorian Christmas Market. Photo: Iain Duck V5/12/21/9730. (53663131)
Phil Lees from Midsummer Garden, right, joined forces with Wayne Johnson from the Queens Head pub to sell festive treats and beer at Stratford Victorian Christmas Market. Photo: Iain Duck V5/12/21/9730. (53663131)
Stratford Town Council chaplain Dr Reverend Roy Lodge looked the part at the opening of Startford Victorian Market on Thursday evening. Photo: Mark Williamson V5/12/21/9449. (53663118)
Stratford Town Council chaplain Dr Reverend Roy Lodge looked the part at the opening of Startford Victorian Market on Thursday evening. Photo: Mark Williamson V5/12/21/9449. (53663118)
A carousel was a popular attraction in Rother Street at Startford Victorian Market. Photo: Mark Williamson V5/12/21/9433. (53663109)
A carousel was a popular attraction in Rother Street at Startford Victorian Market. Photo: Mark Williamson V5/12/21/9433. (53663109)
Cllr Victoria Alcock, left, sheltered from the rain atStartford Victorian Market opening ceremoney on Thursday evening. Photo: Mark Williamson V5/12/21/9459. (53663122)
Cllr Victoria Alcock, left, sheltered from the rain atStartford Victorian Market opening ceremoney on Thursday evening. Photo: Mark Williamson V5/12/21/9459. (53663122)


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