AFTER more than 165 years of trading, the famous Wimborne Market looks set to leave its current site.

The site, off Station Road, has been earmarked for a new retirement village by McCarthy & Stone, with a planning application submitted earlier this year.

The market has been operating on the site up until now, and the organisers have sought permission to relocate to the Wimborne Show ground.

But what’s happened at the market to get to where we are today?


The market was founded in 1855 by Thomas Ensor. He bought the fields and joining the new Wimborne railway station and the market grew into one of the largest livestock markets in the south west.

During the 19th and 20th centuries the market built up a large production auction and thousands of lots of fruits, vegetables, flowers, plants and eggs.

Auctions of fat stock were stopped by the second world war but restrictions were lifted in 1955.

In about 1972 a small antique and bric-a-brac market was started in a building that had previously been used to sell pigs, this grew rapidly and new buildings were quickly added.

By 1990 Wimborne Market had grown into one of the largest open and covered stall markets in the South of England and a multi-storey car park was built.

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In March 2020, it was revealed that the site would leave Station Road, due to becoming “financially unviable”.

A new site was offered at Lake Gates, turning the market into a country market and Roman camp heritage centre.

Traders received a letter from operator Ensors which read: “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."

Anxious traders claimed the market would “kill off” the town and were worried that the new site would “never happen”.

Councillor Janet Dover, representing Wimborne Minster said: “People that are in the market are really sad and worried about it.

“For the future of Wimborne itself, the market is a key part of Wimborne. People come from far away for it, they value it.”

However, the market continued operating at its regular site, and the move never came to fruition.

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In November 2020, discussion began on creating an in-town market.

A post on the Wimborne Town Council Facebook page said: “The Town Council is exploring with Dorset Council and Wimborne BID, the possibility of holding a weekly street market in the town but no details are available at the present whilst negotiations continue.”

On the talks, a spokesperson for Dorset Council said: “This is something that is happening successfully in Bridport with a one way system on one of the main streets and full closure on a couple of side streets to give space for social distancing for the market.”

And in April this year, plans were submitted to move the site to the Wimborne Show ground.

A statement from T Ensor and Son Ltd said: “We have submitted plans to the

local authority to re-site the market at the Wimborne Show ground and have put forward our ideas to create a new country style market and recreation park and we would very much like the support of our traders and customers.”


Developer McCarthy & Stone bought the site to create a new “flagship” retirement village.

In February this year, plans were submitted to Dorset Council for the ‘continuing care community’.

The plans would see 66 apartments and 32 bungalows and two-storey chalets.

Communal facilities proposed for the site include nine open market houses, allotments, a coffee shop, shared lounge, bistro and a wellbeing and fitness hub.

Divisional managing director at McCarthy & Stone Shane Paull said: “We have sought to respect the characteristics of the local area and the amenity of neighbouring properties when developing our design and landscaping proposals.

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“If approved, our plans would deliver the sensitive regeneration of a brownfield site in a sustainable location with an exemplary Continuing Care Community at the heart of Wimborne.

“Our proposals will help to meet an acknowledged and growing local need for specialist accommodation for older people.

“At the same time, research has shown that these developments stimulate the housing chain when homeowners choose to downsize, creating opportunities for families and first-time buyers.”

It seems the market could soon move, bringing an end to an historic era.

Will you be sad to see it go? What are your memories from the market?