The New Watford Market is far from ordinary, it was built using 42 shipping containers.
Adaptainer, the company who supplied and converted the containers used a mixture of 10ft, 20ft and 40ft boxes to create an innovative space that might inspire other markets to follow suit.
Located just off Watford High Street the landmark development, which opened in October, houses traders in units spread over 2 levels.

Watford Market upper level view - Copyright AdaptainerNew look for a historic Watford Market.

The modern design is the latest chapter in a market with a long history.  It’s believed Watford Market dates as far back as 1100 when Henry I was king and has changed ownership a number of times before being bought by the town council in 1926.  Since then the market has been located at various sites within Watford but more recently it was housed inside the ageing Charter Place shopping centre.  However Watford Borough Council wanted a re-energized and vibrant market. That goal led them to the idea of using shipping containers to create an outdoor market with a difference.

New Watford Market Construction View - Copyright AdaptainerHow Watford Market was built and why it might set a trend:

After several months at sea the containers arrived into Adaptainer’s conversion workshop.  The standard cargo doors you’re probably used to seeing on shipping containers were removed on many of the units and replaced by roller shutter doors.  These modified entrances would allow customers easy access as well as enabling traders to secure their property at the end of a working day.  Some of the containers had their side walls removed and replaced with glass windows too.

Shipping containers have a width of 8ft but by removing the side walls it was also possible to create larger retail units by joining containers together.

New Watford Market shipping container market - copyright AdaptainerJon Clark, co-founder of Adaptainer said,
“Basically you are dealing with giant Lego bricks which can be modified and combined together in any format you choose.”

Once the remaining conversion work was complete and the containers had been craned into position a huge canopy covering the entire market was installed.

Mayor of Watford, Dorothy Thornhill said,
“I am thrilled that we can offer the informality of market shopping within a very innovative space.”

Shipping container architecture is fashionable right now but there are sound reasons behind its appeal to retailers.

New Watford Market - Copyright AdaptainerAside from the cost savings of shipping container architecture there are many other advantages such as their versatility.  Containers can be modified and arranged in any number of ways which means you can create visually interesting and appealing designs.  Despite the fixed location appearance of retailers housed in shipping containers they can easily be moved to a new location if needed too.  And of course being able to store stock securely overnight in the container is appealing to many traders.  Could this be the start of a trend by other markets to use shipping containers?


Watford Market build - Copyright AdaptainerTrader Peter Williams said,                                                    
“I think the new Watford Market is more modern than the old Watford Market, it’s unusual and up to date.”

What can you expect inside the New Watford Market?

With an emphasis on small local business, you can experience a wide range of traders selling everything from fresh produce to clothing and jewellery as well as many other specialist items such as retro comics.  After you’ve finished shopping head to the upper level where you’ll find an eclectic mix of food vendors cooking up Japanese, Mexican, Vietnamese, Taiwanese as well as hearty English food too of course.

Watford Market shoppers view - Copyright AdaptainerThe market is open on Tuesday to Saturday from 9am to 5pm. ­

Getting there is easy by road or public transport. You can access the market via the high Street near the flyover and from Beechen Grove, near Clarendon Road.

The New Watford Market was a joint collaboration between Adaptainer, Watford Borough Council, AECOM, TSP and tp bennett.