Preston Market workers William and Thomas call a day on their setting-up-stalls days

William Dagger (L) and Thomas Swarbrick (R) have been setting up stalls for 40 and 37 years respectively.
William Dagger (L) and Thomas Swarbrick (R) have been setting up stalls for 40 and 37 years respectively.

As Preston’s new outdoor market nears its grand opening, two life-long market workers are calling it a day after clocking up almost 80 years of service.

William Dagger and Thomas Swarbrick have been setting up stalls at Preston Markets since the late 1970s and early 1980s, raking in 40 years and 37 years of service respectively.
The duo hung up their market boots on Wednesday, January 31.

William’s wife, Caroline, who contacted the Post over the retirement celebrations, said: “I am so proud I him...I didn’t want his achievement to go unrecognised.”

“My job title was labourer but back in the day it was a ‘stall erector’,” said William, “putting up and taking down stalls every day. It became my life.”

“The market was absolutely super back in the day; we had 121 stalls on the big market and 36 in the fish market. The town on a Saturday used to be so busy, it was tremendous.”

The Ingol-born market man started on the scene straight from school, helping Doreen Miles, a “second mum” according to William, pack up her stall. It was also where he and Thomas met their future wives Caroline and Linda.

56-year-old Williamsaid: “There’s something special about the markets. The people I have met on there have helped to mould me as a person. It’s been a really brilliant life experience.”

And although the duo wont be working on the new market hall opening later this month, William and Thomas are optimistic about it.

“Lots of factors, such as supermarkets, have killed market trade so to see this being put together is the only way to go forward,” William said. “I’m quite pleased with how it’s looking going forward.”

Thomas, who worked in catering before the markets, said: "I think the change is good. A lot of people don't like change but sometimes it's for the better and I think this is just that."

Coun Robert Boswell, Deputy Leader of Preston Council, said: “On behalf of Preston City Council I would like to give thanks to William and Thomas for their long service at Preston Markets.

“With a phenomenal 77 years of combined service I would like to wish them both a happy and well deserved retirement.”

As for what retirement holds, William said: “As a family man my son is still at high school so it’ll be nice to spend more time with him. Apart from that I’m going to chill out for a bit.”

"We go caravanning with our grandchildren," said Thomas, "and we're off to Spain next week and France later this year so it'll be nice."