The Kirkstall Abbey deli and craft market is a great example of how imaginative use of heritage sites can sometimes help create something very special. It runs on the last weekend of every month.
In 2010, we were considering how we could use the beautiful grounds of Kirkstall Abbey to provide some kind of hub for the local community in Kirkstall. With the support of local councillors, we were able to get a small deli market going. At the heart of this scheme was a strong commitment to showcase only locally sourced and reasonably unique Yorkshire products.
The rapid success of the market took us all by surprise. Within the first few months, the original 10 stalls in the abbey’s small courtyard proved insufficient, and we had to shift to the cloister, which is able to house 50.
As well as food, the market has now expanded to include craft stalls. It provides a unique showcase for small, talented local producers, many of whom have gone on to set up their own shops or web enterprises. Indeed, the existence of the market has inspired many local entrepreneurs to set up small food or craft businesses, knowing that they would have a reliable and popular outlet for their wares.
A great draw to the Abbey
The market now brings us around £8000/year in profit. During the summer months, we attract 8-10k weekend visitors to the Kirkstall Abbey site when the market runs, compared with 2-3k visitors on a non-market weekend.
We believe that the market is now helping provide a valuable community activity for people in Kirkstall and beyond, as well as putting the abbey in a position at the heart of local life that it has not had since the Reformation.