Why we love Malton, North Yorkshire

PUBLISHED: 02:27 16 January 2010 | UPDATED: 12:42 24 October 2015



Market towns all over the country have been fighting for their existence, Amanda Griffiths visits Malton, North Yorkshire which seems to be bucking the trend.

Auction of lambs at the Livestock MarketAuction of lambs at the Livestock Market

A pretty market town with delightful shops, great restaurants, beautiful scenery… what’s not to love? But it seems many people are unaware of the charms Malton has to offer and it’s for this reason the We Love Malton Campaign was launched in March last year.

Everyone in the town has been working together to improve its fortunes. Tom Naylor-Leyland is the eldest son of Sir Philip Naylor-Leyland who owns the estate and has thrown himself whole-heartedly into the campaign.

‘The estate has been running for more than 200 years in a very traditional way,’

‘I think we as a family have realised that we have to adapt and offer more. Being the land owners there’s a real opportunity for us to get involved and help more. I’m based in the town now and have been working with the campaign since August. I think it’s going down well and that people can see my family is also investing in the future of Malton.’

The Palace Cinema and shops in YorkersgateThe Palace Cinema and shops in Yorkersgate

Ian Shepherd, who has been leading the campaign, said it is aimed partly at putting the town back on the map.

‘Our initial research told us that it’s not that people were rejecting Malton, rather they just didn’t know what we have here,’ he said.

‘When we launched the campaign there were the cynics who thought ‘we’ve seen all this before’ but I think we’ve shown them that the campaign is sustainable. With all the positive feedback we’ve had from 2009 we’ve got the wheels in motion for what should be a successful 2010.’

Events like the food festivals, car shows and the Victorian Weekend in December aim to attract visitors to Malton and to engage residents and businesses in the town.

The River Derwent from the Railway Street BridgeThe River Derwent from the Railway Street Bridge

To do this Malton has employed Sarah Lally-Marley as a town ambassador. She said: ‘The town council and other organisations like We Love Malton were basically looking at  ways of promoting the town and came up with the idea of ambassador.

‘My job is to get as many people involved and taking part in the events as possible, but also to provide that point of contact in the town. If someone wants to know what time this event starts or what’s happening next weekend, they will stop me and ask and I should be able to help. If I can’t I’ll find out the answer for them and get back to them. In fact, they’ve even started talking to me about other concerns like street lights not working.

‘I think the main problem has been that people have said they didn’t know this event or that event was happening. What I have had to do is see as many people as possible. I’m building up some good relationships now in the town and hope we can keep building on that,’ she said.

And the town, which is home to a strong farming community, is also building a reputation as a foodie destination. There are now more than 20 restaurants, pubs, café bars and tearooms in the town all using local produce, bought from local retailers and farmers.

The Shambles between Market Place and Spital StreetThe Shambles between Market Place and Spital Street

Sophie Legard is owner of Malton Relish, a deli recently crowned North East Food Hero on Market Kitchen.

‘I grew up here as the daughter of a local farmer and have always loved food,’ said Sophie.

‘I was a freelance chef for ten years before I started the shop. I was always struggling to find good, local ingredients, having to go to Leeds or Harrogate to buy them, the idea for Malton Relish came from that really.

‘It all progressed from what the customers want, everything I sell in the shop is from Yorkshire with a lot of items from around this area.

The Old Lodge, Old MaltongateThe Old Lodge, Old Maltongate

‘I have a food bartering system where people bring me their excess fruit, for example and I’ll make it into jams, chutneys etc. I give them half back and sell the other half. It’s great because come Christmas all my hampers are full of local produce.’

Sophie is a supporter of the We Love Malton campaign. ‘I’ve certainly become aware of how important it is for businesses in Malton to take some responsibility for keeping the town going,’ she said.

‘People say ‘but we don’t have a castle or a steam railway’ but what we have got is so good we don’t need them. We’ve got some great independent shops, people come here because the shopping experience is different from a typical high street.

‘There’s a lot to do here, we just need to look at it with fresh eyes, which is what the campaign has showed us.

St Leonard’s RC Church, Church HillSt Leonard’s RC Church, Church Hill

‘During the first food festival we got something like 5,000 visitors into Malton, but the town wasn’t just busy that weekend but the following one too,’ she said. ‘If you can attract that amount of people in one weekend it stands to reason they will come back, perhaps because they hadn’t had chance to look round the shops properly.’

A recent initiative by the estate to allow two hours free parking in the market square has certainly helped attract shoppers into Malton. And future plans include a revamp of the Art Deco Milton Rooms to create an arts centre.

Tim Sinclair at Ambiente Tapas Restaurant is also the chair of the committee which looks after the Milton Rooms. He said: ‘The arts centre idea is our long term goal but that’s probably three to five years down the line. In the meantime we want to increase our presence and the building’s use.’

Currently used for auctions and antique sales, Tim hopes the Milton Rooms will become ‘the venue’ in Malton. A revamp this month will improve the look of the building which will host a programme of events in 2010 including touring productions and shows by local musicians.
‘In terms of art and culture there’s a lot going on in Ryedale but in Malton very little,’ said Tim.

The Malton and Norton Millennium Quilt on display in the Tourist Information CentreThe Malton and Norton Millennium Quilt on display in the Tourist Information Centre

‘For example, the Ryedale Festival is a big classical music festival which brings people into different parts of Ryedale from all over the world but at the moment no events are held in Malton. We are hoping that the revamp of the Milton Rooms will provide a great venue that could be used during the festival and will help to attract more people to the town.’

It seems to be working, too. Statistics show the town has seen a 17 per cent increase in visitors and business growth of 19 per cent and Tim added: ‘There’s a great level of expectation now from local residents. They’re all waiting for the next event to happen.’

How to get there: Malton can be found off the A64 between York and Scarborough. It also has a railway station not far from the town centre. Put YO17 7AJ in your sat nav to find the town centre.

Where to park: Parking has been made free for up to two hours in Market Square. However, if you’re planning to be in town for longer there is a large council-run car park, just minutes from the market square.

Market Place and St Michael’s ChurchMarket Place and St Michael’s Church

What to do when you get there: Shop in one of the gorgeous independent shops; see a film at The Palace Theatre; take a look at the Roman display in Malton Museum (based in the Tourist Information Centre, 01653 600048).

Where to eat and drink: There’s more than 20 restaurants, cafes, bars and tearooms to choose from in the town, which will cater for any taste, whether that’s a tapas lunch or a formal evening meal.

Further afield: Malton is surrounded by some other great tourist attractions including Flamingo Land (08707 528000), the Eden Camp (01653 697777) and Castle Howard (01653 648333).

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