End of an era: fond farewell as Preston traders pack up their stalls at old market hall

Richard Sargeant, 88, the oldest and longest standing in the market
Richard Sargeant, 88, the oldest and longest standing in the market
  • Last day of trading today in old market hall
  • New purpose built site opens on Monday
  • Mixed emotions as traders pack up for last time
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Standing in a prominent position inside Preston’s soon-to-be defunct market hall is a memory tree.

Attached to it are post-it notes from customers and traders, reminiscing about what the now run-down and dilapidated building means to them.

The new place looks gorgeous, the council has done a really good job. There have been problems here and there, there was always going to be.

Today, for the last time, the doors will be closed and keys turned in the locks marking the end of an era. Many of the traders are moving across to the new facility across the way that opens on Monday morning.

The old hall, opened in 1973, will eventually be demolished, along with its car park, to make way for a cinema and retail complex.

Adrian Livesey has operated his butcher’s stall here for the best part of two decades and is looking forward to moving across to the new site.

“There are feelings of nostalgia,” he said. “We have been here quite a while, it’s emotional.

“(The new market) is going to be a massive boost to the city, with the new (Harris) hotel coming and new shops, Preston is changing.

“The new place looks gorgeous, the council has done a really good job. There have been problems here and there, there was always going to be.

“Now we’re just hoping people support us and the market as a whole, come and have a look.”

Adrian’s colleagues are busy explaining to customers that they will be easy to find in the new structure; they have a prominent position near the centre.

He adds: “We have been planning this for years and years and now it’s coming to fruition. Everybody, please give us a chance.”

For many traders it’s the end of an era leading to a new dawn. However, for some, only the first part is true.

A majority of those who are not moving across have already packed up and gone instead of sticking it out for the final days.

Gary Singh’s world foods stall has not been offered a place in the covered market after going through the council’s application process.

His last trading day after a 35 year stint was yesterday.

He said: “I’m just disappointed. We were offered a place on the outdoor market but that’s not suitable for what we sell.”

Gary has travelled from his home in Manchester throughout those decades of building his business.

“We sell worldwide foods, catering especially for the Afro-Caribbean community,” he explains. “I’ve now got to think about to do next, take things as they come.

“I didn’t really get an explanation (about not getting a pitch in the new site). I think they’re going for a food court type plan in the new place, there’s four cafés and a wine bar.”

For others, the thrill of moving into new facilities – a stark contrast to the tired fascias currently on display – is the realisation of long-term plans.

Mark Williams owns the Bill Richardson fishmonger’s and is transferring across.

From Monday, for the first time, the stall will operate under his name rather than that of his old friend from whom he bought the business.

His connection with the market hall dates back to around the time of its opening in the early 1970s.

He said: “The building was archaic back then; the design, the layout. We had several fishmongers all in one place competing with each other.

“I’m excited to be getting out of here. We’ve known this was happening for about five years or so, so there’s been no point putting any money into it (improving the run-down old site).

“The new place will be a damned sight better, it’s quite impressive.”

From old to new...

• The new Market Hall opens at 10am on Monday.

• The 50m by 25m structure under the recently restored 1875 Victorian Canopy is alongside the refurbished outdoor and second-hand markets.

• It has been designed as a glass walled structure that lets in light at all angles, providing a “bright and airy atmosphere”

• The market car park will remain until the Summer, after which demolition works will start

• Several performances to promote the opening of the new site are expected on Saturdays throughout February and early March. More details are expected on Monday.