STALYBRIDGE’S historic market hall could be transformed into a specialist food market if proposals as part of Andy Burnham’s Town Centre Challenge materialise
The suggestion comes 20 years after Stalybridge’s market – there were stalls inside and outside – shut for the last time.
The Correspondent asked readers for their memories of the long gone, but still fondly remembered market.
Here is selection of their comments.
FORMER stallholder John Taylor was saddened by the closure of Stalybridge market and blamed the public for its demise.
The local councillor, who stood the market for 23 years, knew the writing was on the wall for several years before it shut.
John, who sold bedding, curtains, cushion covers and nets, said: “The market closed due to a lack of business and we are all to blame for not using them more.
“I do my main weekly shop at Ashton market hall and spend more money there than at the supermarket.
“If more people did that, markets would flourish. In Stalybridge’s case it was sad because it was a fabulous building and fabulous location.”
John, a welder by trade, became a stallholder after he was forced to give up his job for health reasons.
Apart from being a stallholder at Stalybridge market hall, he also stood the outside market at Grosvenor Square in the town centre.
John said: “We received notices to quit in 1999, but for the last two or three years trade was down. It was almost impossible to make money and it the closure was inevitable.
“I had a hard core or loyal customers but wasn’t selling fruit and veg which people buy every week.”
John, who stood Manchester markets as well as Mossley and Droylsden, admitted he was “very sad to see Stalybridge go”. He was also the last trader on Mossley market before its closure.
“I had a lot of loyal customers and they kept me going. I met lots of nice people and made good friends. I still see many of my ex customers,” he explained.
John added he held council surgeries in the market hall and managed to solve a number of issues for constituents while working on the market.
He recalled: “I was chairman of social services. It was the early days of high technology and I was given a pager for council business.
“The first message I received while I was working Mossley market was to phone in. I couldn’t as in those days not many had a mobile. And those who did, they were the size of a wheelbarrow to carry.”
John believes Stalybridge market hall is an ideal location for “niche” events like craft fairs, farmers and other specialist markets and the borough’s annual beer festival.
He said: “People talk about how good Bury market is, but it is only open three days each week.
“There is a niche to hold events for one or a couple of days, but markets as they were don’t work as shopping habits have changed.”
John believes transforming the market hall into a food hall – it has been proposed as part of Andy Burnham’s Town Centre Challenge – could work.
“I go to craft fairs at the market hall and there are always several specialist food stalls which are always well supported which shows there is demand,” he said.
John added markets have been killed by a change in shopping patterns – internet and even big stores selling seconds.
“You even had big stores like M&S selling slightly damaged items that I once did,” he said.
John does not blame councils for the demise of markets.
“Councils have lost millions as they made money from hiring stalls. The reason they closed was due to a lack of business,” he said.