CHORLEY’s famous market was sensationally cancelled for the first time in more than twelve months this week.
The Tuesday market was called off at the eleventh hour because high winds and heavy rain meant it was too dangerous for customers and traders.
Council workers battled to put up the temporary stalls on the Flat Iron car park in the early hours, but gave up after stalls were blown over.
Torrential rain had also caused flooding.
Coun Alan Cullens, who oversees the markets at Chorley Council, said: “Unfortunately, due to the very strong winds and torrential rain we had to close the Flat Iron market, a decision that was taken in full agreement with the traders.
“As the stalls were being set up they were getting blown over and it just wouldn’t have been safe for either traders or shoppers to risk hosting the market.
“Only a small number of traders had turned up due to the forecast and we were able to offer most of them an alternative spot in the Covered Market, which remained fully open.
“It’s extremely rare to see the Flat Iron market closed but it’s something that can’t be avoided when we have such damaging and disruptive weather.”
The last time it was cancelled was in December 2010, due to the heavy snow and ice.
Only ten traders turned up this week - out of a usual 20 – and one took up the offer of a spot on the Covered Market.
A meat van and chiropodist stayed as they have vehicle-based stalls, but the rest went home.
John Brennand, who runs a clothes stall in the covered market, said the weather and cancellation affected business for other traders too.
He said: “It wasn’t very busy at all. Tuesday is normally our busiest day of the week, but there was only a couple of people walking about.
“You can’t expect people to come out in that sort of weather; it was absolutely blowing a gale.
“We had to put the main shutters down at one point because it was like a mini tornado coming through the market.”
He added: “I think it was common sense to cancel the outdoor market. If a stall had blown over and hit someone, it would have been terrible.
“Even an announcement on the radio was telling people not to go out unless they had to, so the council had no choice.
“A lot of traders didn’t bother turning up anyway, and you can’t blame them.”
The council tried to warn traders in advance by contacting the ‘trader reps’ of the Flat Iron at around 7am, and they helped to pass the message on to others.
It also informed potential shoppers on the website and social media channels.