60 YEARS ago the owners of properties facing Skipton High Street came together to discuss the town's market.

The meeting of the 'frontagers' followed a recent county court decision that established ownership of the setts to those whose properties fronted the High Street.

It laid down rules still in place today, though early aspirations are yet to be fulfilled, even if they are shared by town councillors and the current set of frontagers.

The first and most dramatic result of the meeting of the property owners back in 1963 was the removal of all market stalls from the High Street setts at the end of the day.

The Craven Herald of August 1963, said how up until the court case, no one could really say what days were market days in Skipton and who owned the sett pavements.

"Stallholders were trading every day of the week and permanent stalls were erected on the setts and left there seven days a week, without paying rates. This of course, could not be allowed to continue, " said the Herald.

"As a result of a recent case which was held in the Skipton County Court, it is now generally agreed that the owner of the shop owns also the setts in front of his shop, down to the edge of the roadway, and if he wishes to use them in connection with his business, as many shopkeepers used to do, he is quite at liberty to do so."

Many however, did not make use of the area in front of their properties and so "casual traders from other towns like to come and place a stall on the setts to sell their goods to shoppers on the pavement."

The Herald continued: "If these stalls are properly constructed with colourful awnings, there is no doubt that they add a welcome touch of colour to the characteristic market town, which attracts so many visitors in the course of the year. Equally so, unsightly stalls present a dismal picture and cannot be said to be complimentary to the nearby shops specialising in the sale of high quality proprietary lines."

It added: "The shopkeepers themselves bear heavy overhead expenses, including rates, in connection with their premises, and some of them view the activities of stallholders with certain misgivings."

Back in 1963 however, in the main, the majority of people were in favour of the market being allowed to continue - but providing rules were observed to prevent the 'privilege being abused'.

So, following several meetings, the frontagers appointed a 'special committee' to prepare a set of rules - or 'code of conduct' that came into effect on March 31, 1963.

One rule stated that stalls should be temporary and 'nomadic' in character and of a maximum size of 12ft by 4ft. Another was that stalls must be removed from the High Street between 7pm and 7am and no stalls whatsoever on Sundays.

Stallholders were also responsible for the collection and removal of their own refuse and litter and for properly cleaning the setts as necessary during use and before leaving each day.

The Herald reported: "Since these new rules came into effect, there has been a marked improvement in the appearance of the High Street, which is generally clear of stalls each evening after 7pm."

The issue was litter however, was troublesome; paper wrapping was apt to blow away during high winds, but 'the frontagers were working with the council to prevent this nuisance'.

"There is no doubt the litter in the High Street, particularly on a Saturday night, is a disgrace," said the Herald, which added: "Many stallholders are extremely careful about their litter, but others seem not to care. If the situation does not improve, action is likely to be taken by the frontagers concerned, and also the police, who will be asked to enforce the Litter Act, 1958."

Support of the frontagers for the scheme to tidy up High Street had been 'virtually unanimous' said the Herald, and they had 'every intention of continuing their present vigilance."

Another meeting of the frontagers was due to take place later in the year when progress was to be reported on; the Herald did however wonder about the future of the market what with a general increase in traffic.

"Having regard to the increasing flow of traffic through the town, one cannot help but wonder how long it will be before Skipton follows the lead of so many other towns in providing a proper covered market, where this type of trading may be conducted and more effectively administered and controlled.

"For the time being , however, it seems that the stalls chaos is giving way to some sort of order, and the frontagers are to be congratulated on the steps they have taken to safeguard the amenities of the town, for the greater pleasure of inhabitants as well as visitors."