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Crowds flock to Harrods of WI markets

PUBLISHED: 11:15 05 October 2001 | UPDATED: 10:37 03 March 2010

TWENTY years ago Woodbridge WI market started up in a small church hall.

But by its 20th anniversary yesterday it has become so popular that people were queuing to get in and has even been described as "The Harrods of WI markets.

TWENTY years ago Woodbridge WI market started up in a small church hall.

But by its 20th anniversary yesterday it has become so popular that people were queuing to get in and has even been described as "The Harrods of WI markets."

More than 200 people passed through its doors in just 90 minutes.

Six people founded the Woodbridge market in 1981 and four of the members were at the celebrations to mark the occasion.

Some of them are even still baking and making jam for the weekly market, 20 years on.

Once a small market in the United Reformed Church Hall in Quay Street, the organisers found that it was so popular they were running out of room.

So, 14 years ago they moved to the Woodbridge Community Hall in Station Road, and the numbers of people flocking to buy home grown plants and vegetables, cakes, jams and crafts, have been growing ever since.

WI markets are a product of the First World War when people were encouraged to grow their own vegetables to help supplement the national food supply.

Once it was found that some people were growing more than was needed a market was started in Lewes, Sussex, to provide them with an economic outlet.

It was the start of greater things and there are still markets operating successfully across the country today.

The Woodbridge market also offers coffees and teas so many people go in to chat with friends and catch up on what they have been doing.

Chris Bird was one of the founder members of Woodbridge market as she was the County Advisor for markets across the region.

She said: "This one has always been a success - it was like a flagship for Suffolk.

"It is like the Harrods of the WI markets in Suffolk."

Barbara Pye was also there at the beginning.

She said: "I always hoped that it would grow like this.

"I was a member of the WI and thought that Woodbridge would be a good venue.

"People love home cooking and it provides a necessary outlet for people."

n Woodbridge WI market takes place every Thursday between 10am and 11.15pm at the Community Hall.

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