A market-house was erected by the Earl of Wilton in 1851 with the typical market day being Friday. The present day market hall was built in 1937 and was relocated to its present site on Blackburn Street and was devastated by a fire in 1980.
Due to its location to the award winning neighbouring markets, it often gets overlooked as a shopping destination, but Bury Council have worked hard to counter this and Radcliffe is going through a major regeneration project. Earlier in December, Radcliffe Market celebrated its first birthday following a £1m refurbishment which saw the market hall close for almost a year, meaning that trading had to take place outside during the improvement works. The bus station, which was next door to the market has been relocated although buses were dropping off there when I visited, this has made room for lots of free parking which is a big plus for the indoor market. Road closures due to the improvements have caused some confusion for shoppers but there is a Metro stop right outside for those not wanting to drive.
The refurbishment of the indoor market was phase one of the town’s redevelopment and has been welcomed by both traders and customers. Phase two will include a new supermarket which will be on the site of the former bus station. Which supermarket will go there is yet to be confirmed and as is often the case with any new project, the plans keep changing, but the council are confident that it will remain sympathetic to the market.
Although I cannot compare it to what was there before, Radcliffe Market offers a bright, clean and welcoming shopping experience. The old wooden stalls have been replaced with shuttered units with their own power, lights and water (if required). A new roof has been put on the existing building, complete with solar panels.
The Market Hall consists of 36 individual units, most of which are occupied, with an enclosed area which was created to host events in and offers a fixed bar and seating area for pop up food retailers.
There are two entrances to the market and the one closest to the parking area takes you straight in to Farrar’s Tearooms which opened in the summer. This is run by Jodie Bannister, who was responsible for introducing the successful Castlefield Markets in Manchester as well as a number of food events. She has brought her expertise to Radcliffe and has been responsible for implementing the Saturday Fine Food Market in the events area and the Off the High Street’ Christmas Market which operated on Thursday, Friday evenings and all day Saturday from 03 -19 December.
The Christmas market took place in a large marquee in a designated area of the car park alongside the Market Hall and Jodie contacted a number of the traders who had been at her previous Christmas Market. Her tea rooms remained open and a number of the regular Radcliffe traders opened late to support the venture. The event was sponsored by Bury based real ale microbrewery, Brightside Brewing Company, who took over the bar area of the indoor market offering a range of festive drinks, including mulled wine.
The drinks offering was complimented by Cheeky Beers, who can usually be found in the events bar during the Saturday Fine Food Market. They sell a range of speciality bottled beers, some local, that can be consumed either on the premises or taken away and gift packs had been put together for the Christmas trade. Based in Bolton, Cheeky Beers have recently formed a partnership with Mayflower Brewery and produced a beer for Halloween, called Vlad and a festive brew called Hoppy Christmas.
Food was available from Aaron Bannister, the Curry Manc who is also a regular of the Fine Food Market. He was offering a delicious vegan, gluten free curry which included tarka dal, channa massala and salad. Also from Bolton, Aaron is new to markets and decided to ‘flirt with part time markets’ by starting his business at Radcliffe.
In addition to curry, was Elaine Hutchinson’s Paella Palace. As well as selling her authentic paella, she also had a range of Spanish produce for sale. Elaine used to live in Tenerife, running a cafe bar and so loves all that it has to offer. She has been offering event catering for some time but the Christmas market was her first time at Radcliffe and she hoped to gain a regular place at the Saturday Fine Food Market.
To add atmosphere, Jodie had organised a DJ and Mark, who had previously had regular spots in clubs in Manchester and had performed at Castlefield Market ,was happily spinning his funk and soul vinyl.
Outside in the marquee, the Christmas music was playing and Stephen Costello and his partner Anne-marie were selling their handmade wreaths – their first time selling at a market.
Bekki-Kate from Gifts of Sparkle sells her beautifully presented UK sourced silver jewellery at markets and fares across the length and breadth of Britain. Her jewellery range was priced between just £5 and £25 making it affordable for all.
Soapy Skin although not a fine food are also Saturday regulars and Janet and David Shorrocks decided to try the Christmas market. They have expanded their range to include bath salts and accessories and all their soaps use natural ingredients. They have expanded their business, having outgrown their kitchen and in the five weeks that they have been trading at Radcliffe, they have built up several repeat customers.
Completely new to market trading is Matt Dines, a local photographer whose most popular pictures were unique montages of Manchester. His framed photographs ranged from £15 to £40.
Anna Williams of Ola Vintage took over the rear section of the marquee selling a range of vintage clothing, including dresses and coats for both sexes; she was also a former Castlefield trader.
Kat Pearson of Kat Designs was made redundant in July and decided to make the most of her Degree in Textiles. She produces digital images that look like fabric which she has made in to cards and posters. This was only her second market.
Also at the Christmas market was a representative from Forever Living, selling a range of aloe vera items, Ben who had two adjoining tables selling bric a brac and vinyl records and Jodie’s Portuguese cherry liqueur. Jodie commented, ‘One of the main aims of the Christmas Market, aside from providing something a bit different to the standard Christmas fare, is to help promote, enhance and regenerate Radcliffe.’
The indoor market offers most of the services that you would expect to find in a successful town centre shopping outlet.
Farrar’s Tea rooms offer excellent produce from locally sourced producers. The coffees are roasted by local coffee roasters, Ancoats Coffee Co, and all baked goods on offer are from artisan bakers Hunters from Bolton. As well as offering pastries, baked goods and sandwiches, they also sell loaves of Hunters bread which is a big seller. The café is tastefully decorated in hues of duck egg blue and provides a chic, relaxing environment, a far cry from what is perceived to be a traditional market café.
Adorned on several of the high white walls of the market are pictures from the market going back over many years, There is a large picture window, overlooking the River Irwell which is currently home to a Christmas display. There are also a number of barrows which are being used as overspill for the current traders but will be used as pop up stalls for new start-up traders.
Mel of Shades of Sentiment has two units within the market, selling cards and handbags. She has been at Radcliffe for two years and has only just taken over selling cards.
David and Beth Tremayne have been selling sweets and ice cream at Radcliffe for four years and before that, they traded at Bury market. David commented, ‘It’s much better here, we have lots of lovely, loyal customers, we even get holiday present from some of them.’
Andrew and Lauren Shaw of Shaw Computers were very positive about the improvements to the market saying, ‘it is much better now, cleaner and the improved security is really good, especially for us.’ They offer computer and laptop repairs and have been trading from the Market Hall since the early 90s.
Laughing Cycles is the part-time business of bricklayer Wayne Neal, who has been selling reconditioned bikes and accessories on and off for three years. He has four joined units and also offers a cycle repair service. His business isn’t as seasonal as expected and he says that January is particularly busy when parents bring in their children’s ‘bodged’ build your own bicycles in!
Andrea Tonge took over the fruit and veg stall from her Nephew in March. She also sells cheese and uses some of her produce in homemade carrot and banana cakes and soups which she sells from her chilled counter. She was offering a Christmas raffle for her customers which I thought was a good way of encouraging return custom.
Bell’s Egg Stall had a constant queue of people for their eggs, cooked meats, pies, sausages and bacon. The pies are made by a local butcher and there was quite an array and some I had never heard of, including a beef whist, essentially a mini beef ‘pork pie’. Other more unusual items were pressed beef and tongue, something you see less often these days. Michael Hall has been running the family business for over 12 years, which was originally started by his Grandfather.
MG Fashions have been selling ladies’ and gent’s fashions in the Bury area for over 45 years and still have a stall at Bury market selling ladies’ clothing. This is also a family run business and Mahrab usually looks after the stall at Radcliffe.
Nail bars are commonplace now across the UK and Glitter and Polish came to the market when it reopened after the refit. As well as offering nail services, Suzanne Joynson can also provide brow and lash treatments and ear piercing.
Complimenting the pampering services on offer is Julie Miller’s hair salon. She offers services to all clients and joined Radcliffe in March from Bury market. She has a good, regular clientele which she said was building up really well.
Connor Wells looks after his cousin’s mobile phone repair business, ‘The Phone Doctor’ on a day to day basis and was busy fixing phones and tablets when I visited. They can undertake repairs that many phone shops can’t and have a constant trade because of this.
Family businesses seem to be common at Radcliffe and Steff and Brian Ringrose took over the previous pet supplies business six years ago to create Animels for their daughter Melissa. Since she had her children, they now run the stall. Steff explained, ‘We have a lot of repeat customers because we take the time to get to know them and we try to get for them whatever they need.’
Joanne Cropper, from Jo’s Gifts and Crafts also has a lot of regular customers. She said of the market, ‘I love it here, we’ve got some brilliant customers, some just come in for a chat.’ Jo sells card craft, candles, dried flowers and a selection of her daughter’s handmade jewellery.
One of the start-up businesses at Radcliffe is Heaven Scent. Sue Cooper saved up her holiday money and set up her spiritual stall from just £400. She sells a range of books, crystals, incense burners and dream catchers and had organised a raffle to raise funds for the Manchester Royal Hospital. With every sale, Sue gives a complimentary tea light and asks customers to make a wish upon lighting – a lovely sentiment.
Ak started The Sewing Box, selling haberdashery in May, having previously ran a store in Rochdale and was starting to build up a trade. He said that the quality of the offerings in the market has improved since the refurbishment.
Last, but not least was Rapid Repairs, a shoe repair, key cutting and engraving service from Brendan Farrington. He has been trading for ten years and said he had built up a ‘really good, solid customer base. I also offer stitching services and there is quite a demand for this but not many people do it.’ Some of his customers live abroad during the summer and bring in a pile of shoes for repair when they return in the winter!
Radcliffe Market is a friendly, welcoming indoor market and a lot of work is being put in by the council and traders to make it a thriving environment. More events are planned for 2016 and it is hoped that the final phases of the town’s regeneration will put the Market Hall back on the map.
Stalls available from £52.50 per week. Call the management team on: 0161 253 6520
Opening hours have been extended to include Thursday, and the market now trades on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 09.00-16.30, closing at 15.00 on Thursday