BRIDPORT'S thriving street market is set to expand to bring the continental touch to West Bay this summer.

A new harbourside market is planned for summer evenings, designed to appeal to the crowds drawn to the harbour by ‘the Broadchurch effect’.

It was announced this week that for the first time, stalls will be set up on the Fisherman’s Green and in the Salt House on Wednesday nights from mid-July until late September.

The pilot project, backed by market traders, is aimed at giving tourists and locals an attraction in the summer, while providing a boost to business in the Bay.

There will be no food stalls to compete with the kiosks, pubs and restaurants, but a mix of outside stalls and local crafters in the Salt House.

The venture comes as Bridport makes its mark as a ‘destination’ market town, drawing crowds with its mix of traditional stalls and the growing antique and vintage market and vintage quarter at St Michael’s Trading Estate.

Coach parties keen to see the ‘real’ Broadchurch are also flocking to the town on market days.

As Bridport played a leading role in the national Love Your Local Market campaign last weekend, it was revealed that the popular Saturday markets are regularly attracting more than 100 stallholders, with more applications coming in week by week from traders wanting to join the success story.

At a time when many markets in the south-west are struggling, town surveyor Daryl Chambers has been recruited as one of a national network of ambassadors by the National Association of British Market Authorities (NABMA) to advise others in a “buddy” scheme.

Mr Chambers said that the idea to expand the market into the harbour came after a year when atrocious weather, the town’s major upheaval through roadworks, the Olympic disruption and the closure of the Beaminster Tunnel puit the bi-weekly markets under pressure.

“So this year we are looking to give our markets a really big push,” he said.

“The market traders came to us and we started to talk on how to improve things and it was agreed to pilot the evening markets, which will connect the town with West Bay and give people something to do when they have come off the beach.

“Our markets are going from strength to strength at the moment.”

Chairman of the local market traders’ forum Roy Gregory said the aim was to encourage as many different kinds of traders as possible to back the West Bay markets.

“We are going to give it a go this year and see. West Bay is the place to be at the moment and this will really add to the atmosphere there.”

Bridport Town Council leader Sarah Williams said the new venture should be “fantastic fun”.

“It will be at the time of the day between coming off the beach and going out for dinner.

“The local kiosks and pubs will pick up trade and visitors and local people will have something to do at that time in the evening.”

Bridport and District Tourism Association chairman Scott Condliffe said he welcomed the initiative.

“I think anything that attracts people to the area is a good thing.

“People certainly do go into Bridport for its market and its atmosphere.”

The West Bay markets will start at 4.30pm and run until 8.30pm on Wednesdays from July 17 until September 25.

The summer park and ride will run between West Bay and the town centre from July 13, to September 7.