MALTON is stepping up its links with author Charles Dickens as a way of boosting the town’s economy.

A new organisation has been set up, The Charles Dickens (Malton) Society, based in Chancery Lane, close to the spot where the leading 19th century writer set his tale, A Christmas Carol.

Malcolm Chalk, spokesman for the society, said: “Our aim is to raise the profile of Dickens’s connections with Malton by documenting his visits, correspondence and connections and by doing so encourage visitors to the town.”

Among the events being planned is a Charles Dickens Festival to be staged in December next year.

In addition, a public awareness day is being held on August 16 when supporters will create a display of period costumes, a treasure hunt, photographic exhibition and display of artefacts, plus a quiz, focussing on Dickens’s life and work. The events is at the former Dodsworth’s shop in Market Place.

Former television presenter Selina Scott has become patron of the society and its membership now includes local politicians, civic and business leaders and historians.

One of the society’s key aims is to acquire the lease of the Chancery Lane office, which Dickens used as the basis for the office where Ebenezer Scrooge and his clerk, Bob Cratchit worked, and to convert it into a museum and visitor centre.

It is also contacting Dickens societies in other parts of the country to exchange information and visits.

Mr Chalk said support was being sought from local authorities, businesses and residents by lobbying councillors and approaching traders and offices.

“We want to make the Dickens’ experience in Malton something worthwhile for the town and to create a genuine celebration of his work, his visits, connections and friendships with Malton’s residents – putting Malton into the heart of Britain’s historical and literary world,” said Mr Chalk.

In the museum there will be display rooms with artefacts and costumes and interactive exhibits depicting glimpses of how the poorest and richest lived in Malton. There will also be recreations of scenes from Dickens’s works.

The new museum will have state-of-the-art displays while more precious items will be behind glass in a controlled atmosphere said Mr Chalk.

Another feature to promote Dickens will be a range of Christmas cards produced by the society.

“In Charles Dickens, Malton has an ideal opportunity to attract new visitors who can walk in the footsteps of one of this country’s greatest classical writers and at the same time bring more people to our town,” said Mr Chalk.

*Anyone interested in helping the society is asked to ring Mr Chalk on 0792 6840868