HISTORIC Wimborne market is closing at its current site after 165 years of trading.

Bosses blame "excessively high business rates" and "changing shopping habits" for the closure, which will happen later this year.

But they have promised to move to a different site, offering instead a new country market and Roman camp heritage centre at Lake Gates.

Shocked traders received letters yesterday from operator Ensors.

The letters said: "Due to excessively high business rates and changing shopping habits, we regret to say that the Wimborne Market will cease operating from its current location later in 2020. It is financially unviable on the present site."

It says the new site will be at Lake Gates, close to the junction with the A31 and the B3078, and said it intends to "ensure that no trading days are lost and Wimborne can continue to be a market town in the true sense of the word."

The site is currently a field which is used for occasional events such as car boot sales and visits from the circus.

The letter goes on to say that talks about the potential new site will begin with the Town Council and Dorset Council shortly and adds: "This is an opportunity to breathe new life into the town and bring alive the rich Roman history that is unknown to most residents.

"This will bring a unique atmosphere which will be of benefit to traders and customers alike and will being in new visitors to the town."

It says architects have been instructed and that new facilities will be built and adds: "Market days will stay the same - Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays"

Wimborne Market was founded in1855 by Thomas Ensor, who had already established a livestock market at Dorchester.

It is one of the biggest open and covered markets in the south of England and a multi-storey car park was built there in 1990 to accommodate the huge number of visitors.

Wimborne residents have taken to social media to voice their concerns about the move with many describing it as a sad day for the town.

The Daily Echo has attempted to contact the organisers for comment.