Ripon businesses organise Christmas market to continue regeneration of the canal basin

The Christmas market will add to a drive to continue a regeneration of the Ripon canal basin.
The Christmas market will add to a drive to continue a regeneration of the Ripon canal basin.

Businesses along Ripon's canal basin are organising a Christmas market as part of their drive to regenerate the area.

Last month Welcome to Yorkshire's North Yorkshire area director David Shields told the Gazette that more needs to be done to promote the Ripon canal as a tourist attraction, which he has identified as a "hidden gem" with growing potential and footfall.

Canal basin businesses: Chris Hughes of Zen Pilates, Gail Donnan from the The Mindfulspace Wellbeing Company, and Nicola Lymer of Exhale Fitness.

Canal basin businesses: Chris Hughes of Zen Pilates, Gail Donnan from the The Mindfulspace Wellbeing Company, and Nicola Lymer of Exhale Fitness.

Coun Richard Willis, who founded the Ripon Canal Society in 1982, and now runs the Ripon Canal Carrying Company offering canal tours, said the mindfulness space and the Azuri beauty salon opposite have increased footfall along the stretch, and has also agreed that the basin should be developed as a tourism hotspot.

Keen to keep the momentum and interest going about enhancing the canal basin's offer for tourists and city residents, the owner of the Azuri beauty salon, Georgia Burns, came up with the idea to organise the market on December 3, 3pm to 7pm, to showcase the stretch and draw in more visitors.

Georgia said: "I hope that the Christmas market will drive the regeneration forward by attracting more local people to the area who otherwise would not tend to come to the canal basin.

"Then by visiting this area they will hopefully realise the beauty, importance and the potential of the Ripon canal."

The Azuri team.

The Azuri team.

Georgia told the Gazette that another aim of the Christmas market is to connect the canal basin with the Market Square and the centre of Ripon, to help visitors see that the canal is also an important city attraction in its own right.

She said: "I hope that the canal basin and its businesses are seen as equals to the businesses in the centre. I think for Ripon to grow and for businesses to succeed in our beautiful city, we have to realise that there is more to Ripon than just the Market Square.

"Venturing out of the square also encourages people to walk around the city and discover shops and scenic areas that sometimes people never knew were there.

"I have been amazed at the number of clients who have never realised that the canal basin was even here."

The Azuri salon is in the original lock keeper's house, which was left empty for many years. Georgia told the Gazette that organising events like the market, could be an important part of keeping the historic area alive with thriving independent businesses and a high footfall of tourists enjoying the beauty of the canal.

Georgia said: "I think the canal is so important to Ripon. Ripon is a beautiful historic city, and I think the canal and its basin reflect this on so many levels. We have had so many compliments on what a beautiful area we are set in and this is all due to the canal's charm, history and calming atmosphere.

"I think tourists should be drawn here to help all the businesses succeed in keeping the canal basin alive, but also simply sitting on a bench by the canal seems to give you a sense of calm and wellbeing.

"The canal and its basin are beautiful, so let’s use it and help keep these areas of Ripon going for many more generations to come."

Gail Donnan, the owner of The Mindfulspace Wellbeing Space, which opened at the canal basin in January this year to offer sessions including meditation, yoga, pilates and mindfulness coaching, said the area has transformed since she moved to the city 15 years ago, and has jumped on board to help Georgia make the Christmas market happen.

Full of ideas about how the canal could continue to flourish, she said: "Personally I would like to see the canal basin go a little bit more upmarket with unusual, unique, stylish choices, which has shaped our choice of stall holders.

"It can be somewhere for them to showcase their work without paying huge town centre rents, and this is an exciting start.

"I'm an energy worker, so I would say the energy down here at the canal basin is very special. We are all a magnet for people - us, Azuri and The Forge."

James Bradley, representing the managing agents of the canal basin complex, said: "It is good to see some of the businesses and start up businesses keen to do a good job in promoting the area and collaborating to pull a Christmas event together - it will hopefully be a good event for Ripon people to enjoy.

"It will be a good way of bringing tourism to this part of Ripon."

To join the independent businesses already signed up to have stalls at the market, call 07957 663704.