Microbusinesses are of growing importance to Whitehaven and the surrounding areas. 

Major companies are moving out of the town centre leaving empty lets along the high street. 

The town council has been running traders' markets to encourage small companies to take the leap into running a shop. 

Several firms were in attendance including Carlisle's Castle Chocolates and Haverigg Smokeries. 

The latter offers prisoners at HMP Haverigg who are nearing the end of their sentence a chance to learn new skills and give something back to the community. 

Staff from the prison were serving smoked goods produced by the prisoners. 

Other small businesses in attendance also used the opportunity to showcase what goods they had on offer. 

A spokesperson from Castle Chocolates said: "We've got a shop in Carlisle on Fisher Street, we produce as much as possible, and you can see us making the chocolates in-store. 

"We just do the Whitehaven markets at the moment; our main business is in the shop, and we sell to a lot of retailers around the county. 

Adrian McGreavey, of the Mawbray Cheese Company, said: "We're selling cheese here today, we've got Jersey cows' milk and goat's cheese. 

"Different markets see customers wanting to buy different things, today we've sold a lot of goat's cheese."

Gerard Richardson, who helped to organise the markets alongside the town council, said: "The whole reason we started these markets four years ago was that Whitehaven's market had virtually died. 

"There were still some turning up on a Thursday and Saturday but for a start we picked Friday. 

"The main reason we started it is that we realised the only way we were going to get away from the empty shop units was by growing our own entrepreneurs. 

"We understand and acknowledge some businesses will always be kitchen sink businesses, they'll always be hobbies, which is great because every business has a position. 

"However, there'll always be one or two that will graduate up into a shop unit. 

"That work has been duplicated by TEG Retail, which means there are two support networks out there specifically aimed at helping businesses grow in Whitehaven town centre.