Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Market Murder

I’m afraid our local market may well die its death quite soon. The council have plans to ‘re-vamp’ the area where the market’s now held and spread the stalls all around the town instead, a plan I honestly can’t see working.

A market is traditionally a place where traders GATHER to sell their goods and where people know they can go to get either a bargain or something special that they can’t find elsewhere. It’s a place that should be bustling with young mums with pushchairs, men and their dogs, old ladies with pull along trolleys (yes, I know they can be annoying but give them a break, it can be hard to carry bags around when your arms and legs aren’t what they used to be) and housewives looking for fresh veg, meat and whatever else they can lay their hands on for the dinner table. It should be filled with the sounds of traders calling out “get your caulis here, darling” and there should be at least one greasy spoon where you can rest with a cup of tea and a bacon sarnie. What it shouldn’t be is a scattering of stalls dotted here and there around town. That has to be one of the daftest ideas I’ve heard in a long time.

Apparently the plan is to build new council offices on the site of the market but because there’s a bit of a financial problem with it along with the fact that our local council is being grouped together with a few others to make one big council area, nobody seems really sure as to what’s actually going to happen there. It seems they’re definitely going to do ‘something’ with it though.

If the powers that be in this town really want to keep the local community lively then surely the market’s an important part of that? I’d actually like to see more of them. On the days that the general market isn’t on, I’d like to see more guest markets. We had a French one visit a while back (a long while back) and there’s a Christmas market planned, but that’s it. And what’s more, the French one wasn’t where the market usually is and neither will the Christmas one be. We don't even have a monthly farmer's market - we have to go to Nantwich (the posh neighbour) for that.

One argument against the market has apparently been that a lot of the traders aren’t actually local (as in from the immediate Crewe area). Well that’s nothing new! Market traders have traditionally travelled from market to market, plying their goods, but they don’t exactly come from the other end of the country and they sure as heck don’t come from abroad (with the exception of visiting markets, of course). They’re still a darned sight more local than the owners of the chain shops that this town seems to be attracting more and more of.

I have fond memories of markets. As a kid I always went to Walthamstow market with mum every week. She knew exactly which fruit and veg stalls sold the best produce and we’d stop at the fish stall and buy kippers, winkles, cod fillets or whatever seafood Dad and I would be having for dinner that week (she wasn’t keen herself) and a plate of cockles for me to eat as we went along. She might look at the curtain material, buy some new linen, get herself a new pair of tights, buy me a pair of shoes or something else that I needed (getting a new winter coat was always the most exciting one) and during winter we’d stop at the sarsparilla stall for a mug of the steaming hot spicy brew.

When I lived in Norway I went to the fruit, veg & flower market on the square every week. I loved browsing the stalls, finding the best looking vegetables and juiciest fruit and a bunch of pretty flowers for the table. Then I’d sit at a pavement café and just watch the activity before getting the bus back home. Good times.

I shall be sad to see the market dispersed.

Sharon J


Image Credit: Burge5000


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Susan said...

They did the same in my town, Darlington. We still have a market on Mondays and Saturdays but it's nothing like it used to be. There are no stalls on the market square, they are spread about the 'pedestrian heart' (another bright idea by our council).
So we have a market square with no market on it and this is 'progress'?

Richard said...

Ironically the market in Crewe isn't in Market Street or Market Square. It will be though if it moves from its present location which is a car park but rather more convenient for everyone.

Becky said...

One of the things I love about Norway is the incredibly easy access to fresh goods - particularly where my fiance is from in East Norway which still has alot of farmers and hunters.

Luckily in Derby, we have a dedicated 'indoor' market, but we have also just had a huge Westfield Centre attached to it - it doesn't do very well anymore.. and I have told people again and again to buy (particularly meat, fruit and vegetables) from the market as they are SO much cheaper and in my opinion better quality.

It would be a shame if markets were to die out, but at the same time there is a growing interest in locally sourced goods, etc so maybe there is hope left...

Anonymous said...

The general markets are so sad these days. We did research before we started up Glanbrydan and realised the only way forward was to attend farmers markets.
Even some of those are struggling.
I think it is because many people shop out of town these days and also we have seen some real rubbish on some stalls.

Chaotic Kerri said...

Our city has a regular market in one area every week and in another area every month and we also have a big international market about 4 times a year when they seal of one of the main streets for the weekend. All are quite well attended especially the internationals.

Anonymous said...

I hate it when councils do this. We had a fantastic fish market housed in an art deco building and some council idiot decided such magnificence shouldn't house fish.

They closed it down and reopened it as yet another art gallery to add to the many that we already have. Nobody visits it.

But what we don't have is somewhere to get good quality fresh fish from.


Sharon J said...

@ Susan. I often wonder about the council's definition of progress.

@ Richard. If you think about it, before the Victoria Centre was there, Market Street probably did go right up to where the market is. I imagine it was a market before it was a car park, but on non-market days it made a good place for extra parking.

@ Becky. I lived in East Norway and the fresh food there was absolutely wonderful. But then there's the Bergen fish market - I used to love watching them swim around in the big tanks and choose which one I wanted. Can't get fresher than that!

@ Glanbrydan. I do think councils or market managers should be more choosey about what can be sold so that markets don't become overwhelmed with rubbish from Taiwan. Luckily, that hasn't been the case with ours.

@ Chaotic Kerry. We have a French market in town at the moment. I haven't been but have been told it consists of just a handful of stalls selling cheese, meats and things at ridiculously inflated prices.

@ Anonymous. As much as I like art, if I had the choice between an art gallery and a good fish market, I wouldn't choosing the gallery.

Anonymous said...

is there a local campaign group we could join, to prevent the council from doing this?