A modern, forward thinking market dating back to 567 A.D.

Blackburn Market 1The new £8 million Blackburn Market offers traditional values but within a modern, new, bright environment. Based in the ground floor of The Mall shopping centre and connected by escalators and lifts to the department stores and parking above, it opens six days a week (Monday to Saturday).

The branding and strapline ‘More than Just a Market’ was the vision of Commercial Manager, David Smith who joined the operation last year with a mission to make Blackburn Market the hub of the community, develop a customer base of younger shoppers and to work alongside the regeneration team across the town centre to increase footfall by creating something new that other towns cannot offer.

David said, “We proactively seek to work with local community organisations and charities and we have a healthy partnership with Blackburn College to offer vocational experience to students. 

These include a regular hair and beauty demonstration by the Media Makeup department and we are very excited about a future partnership to develop a Blackburn Market radio project with the journalism department. We’re even asking local schools to design our new Market mascot.” 

Blackburn Market is part of Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council who support the mission for the market to stay at the heart of the community and become the number one market in the country as part of a regeneration drive in the town which includes a £25 million redevelopment of the Cathedral Quarter.

Last year businesses across the town also voted “yes” for a BID (Business Improvement District). The Blackburn BID, led by town centre businesses, aims to spend a further £1.5 million of funding gathered through levies to improve Blackburn town centre. Over the next five years this funding will help the town revive and thrive through measures which will include making the town safer and more secure, greener and cleaner and proactively marketing the town as a vibrant town centre. The investment doesn’t stop there! Construction work is underway on a new £5 million bus station right on the doorstep of the market and a new travel interchange outside the railway station.

A state of the art traffic information system will provide digital monitors across the market to provide public transport users with travel updates and live bus departure times. With both the market and new bus station fully indoors, even the weather won’t dampen shoppers’ days out.

David says, “There’s a positive buzz about the town at the moment and we’re at the heart of it. After years of waiting and talking about the changes, the reconstruction work is all around us and people are beginning to grasp the vision that Blackburn is about to have a whole new landscape. A consultation is also underway at the moment, looking at ways to make the town centre more accessible to visitors by rethinking the road system to make access to the main shopping areas easier for all transport users.”

David has been keen to introduce online shopping as a new dimension to market trading. Through e-commerce websites linked to the Blackburn Market website, customers will be able to click on the businesses they want to order products from online, traders will be notified and can fulfil the orders by sending items through the post or offering a ‘click and collect service’ for customers to pick them up from their stalls. Already this scheme is working well for Le Rainflorist who now offer local deliveries through a dedicated ecommerce site which uses the courier services of a nearby Blackburn Market stall holder, Parcels & Post.

David explains. “Rather than detracting from shopping in person, the aim is to provide an incentive to people who have used the website at home or at their lunch desks at work to want to come to the market to collect or purchase their online selections. They can then experience the unique atmosphere, meet our friendly traders and sample other stalls. This will create increased footfall for the market and generate interest in them from a wider audience.”

A dedicated communication team supports traders through a vibrant website which is regularly updated with news, events and photographs. Every new trader gets a profile page on the website which is often turned into a good news story and picked up by local press, such as the recently opened Kitty Honey Jamaican food stall and the return of a SAM’s Seafood who have a long family history on the market. Dedicated 24/7 social media services ensure that the market engages with the community online through Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other social media channels even when it’s not open for business. A customer can chat or ask questions at any time of day and get a personalised response. A range of family entertainment activities are organised by an events’ team which include self-defence displays, choir performances and walkabout theatre groups. These are all publicised in the local press and online. A new demonstration kitchen was launched at Easter and the market was pleased to announce that local celebrity chef and food writer, Philippa James as the new resident chef at Blackburn Market. She will be taking part in monthly cooking demonstrations at the market, along with guest chefs from local restaurants. The market also produce a range of recipe cards after each demonstration which provide customers with the list of ingredients they need, how to cook the meal and also which traders can supply the products.

Philippa told MTN, “A lot of dishes can be made in 15 minutes, with all the products brought here at Blackburn Market. I want to try and not only teach people how to cook these meals but also how little it costs to make them. “I’m really passionate about markets, especially Blackburn. A lot of the traders have been trading in the area for a long time and genuinely show care and consideration for each other as well as their customers. The support I’ve received from them all and the public has been fantastic and I enjoy all the time I spend here.”

Over the next few months there will also be a regular ‘Plug in and Play’ session with a local musician, Phil Knight who will coordinate performances by local buskers. A ‘Make and Do’ craft team led by community artist, Julia Swarbrick completes the line-up of local characters who engage with people of all ages in interactive areas where previously there had been underutilised stalls.

Blackburn Market is open six days a week, Monday to Saturday from 8.30 am to 5.30pm. Currently running at 83% occupancy, the market offers a wide range of products and foods, pulling in customers locally and also many travelling from much further afield. The management team are keen to encourage stall holders offering the following commodities: dry goods, DIY, halal butchers, key cutting, shoe repairs, delicatessen, and Chinese food.

To apply for a stall at Blackburn Market visit the website www.blackburnmarket.com, or ring the market office on 01254 669258 for a trader’s pack. It is advisable to visit the market for a viewing to and to arrange your unit to your personal specification. Incentives are offered to starter businesses from £60 a week. This is for a basic stall for a period of six months, after which there’s the option to become permanent and increase the size of the stall.

A Brief History of Blackburn Market
Blackburn Market opened the new site under The Mall shopping centre in June 2011. The previous market was based just across the road on the other side of Ainsworth Street. It first opened on this site in 1964, where there was a 3-day market (Wednesday, Friday and Saturday) and the Market Hall (Monday to Saturday). The origin of Blackburn Market is lost in the veil of time, but the earliest date known was in 567 AD and it was usual for markets to be held within the grounds of the original parish church which is now the site for Blackburn Cathedral. In 1101, the Market moved to an area bounded by Church Street, Darwen Street, Mill Lane, Market Street Lane and Astley Gate. At the top of Church Street, Robert de Lacey erected a Market Cross, but it was completely destroyed during the Civil War in 1642 and never replaced. In 1803, the power to hold Markets was vested in the Town Commissioners, later called Improvement Commissioners. In 1848, a new Market Hall was built with an Open Market adjacent to Blackburn Town Hall. A clock tower was built at the King William Street side of the Market Hall. The clock tower had a brass ball which was raised at 12 noon and lowered at 1pm. When the bell returned to the bottom at 12 noon, a cannon was fired. In 1872, a second Market Hall and a Fish Market was added to the Market. In the early 1960’s, the proposal was made to move the Market to a new site all under cover and build a brand new shopping centre.

The river Blakewater was culverted and the new Market opened in 1964. The local market still retained its traditional feel and was the second biggest in the country. The market offered Lancashire specialities such as locally produced cheeses and black puddings. A trip to the market wasn’t complete without a visit to the Walsh’s chemist stall where glasses of traditional sarsaparilla were served. The indoor market also boasted a separate fish market. Late in 2009, it was decided that the building was no longer fit for purpose and the market as we know it today was born in the brand new £66 million Mall shopping centre. Blackburn Market is based in the ground floor of the shopping centre and connected by escalators and lifts to the department stores and parking above it.