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The Manchester Markets we have loved and lost

Greater Manchester has had some belting markets over the years. We take a trip down memory lane and remember the best of em'.
Manchester markets

We all love a bargain.

Greater Manchester is full of cracking markets to get your trinket fixes, top nosh, and just about anything you’re looking for.

The traditions and origins of Manchester’s markets stretch back centuries, and many of today’s traders have been in the business of buying and selling for generations.

Manchester was first given the right to hold markets in 1066 by the newly victorious William the Conqueror.

In a congratulatory gesture, he conferred the title of Manor of Manchester upon one of his valued knights.

And with the honour came the privilege of holding markets and fairs.

We’d love to know what your favourite markets are that have been and gone, so why not drop us an email?

Greater Manchester Markets we have loved and lost

Market Centre

Market Centre Manchester
Photo credit: Manchester Libraries

Did you know Manchester used to have an underground shopping centre?

It featured a whopping 100 stores too.

Back in the 70s, through to the 80s, Market Centre sold everything from clothing, to vinyl, and much much more.

The complex remained open until 1989 – and legend has it it was the only place you could buy skinny jeans in the 70s (Let’s be honest, we’re all glad that phase is over).

Fashion boutique Stolen From Ivon was in situ there, and there were incredible music shops like Manchester Underground Records Import, Collectors and Spinn In records, too.

Salford Market

An icon of Greater Manchester open since the early 80s, the Salford Market is sadly no longer.

A flea market selling a ‘bit of everything’, Salford’s market had been a huge part of the community before it was demolished in 2012, alongside the Flat Iron pub, which was situated next door.

It was home to a buzzing food hall, which sold all manner of food and drinks.

The site also had a flea market selling various bits and bobs. Probably described by your nan as ‘complete tat’.

Salford Market before it was demolished
Salford Market before it was demolished. Photo Credit: Reddit

A car park and an Aldi have since replaced it, that remains there today.

The closure of the Market has been blamed on customers shopping at supermarkets, coupled with increasing stall prices driving sellers out.

Eccles Market

Eccles Market
Eccles Indoor Market

Eccles indoor market is home to a thriving community of small businesses and formed part of a close community.

It was scheduled for demolition last year as part of a £10m town centre revitalisation effort from the council.

Awash with loads of independent traders, it was a huge blow when the council revealed that they would be shuttering the market and demolishing it in three stages.

The stands where traders sold have been in operation for nearly 60 years, before the council called time on the operation in January 2023.

The final closure date has been revealed as March 1st.

Newton Heath Market

Newton Heath Market
Newton Heath Market

After 80 years of serving the Manchester community, Newton Heath Market closed their doors in 2010.

In 2009, a group of nine stall-holders formed a co-operative to take over the running of the market last year and had hoped to reinvigorate it.

Unfortunately their mission failed. Unfortunately falling visitor numbers, high rates, bills and rents slashed income for market traders, who were killed by high costs.

The market was well known for their clothes, stationery and household goods.

Pendlebury Market

Pendlebury Market

Within a short walk away from Swinton was Pendlebury Market. This was a large open market that was held on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

The outdoor flea market of up to 200 stalls sadly closed for the final time in 2012.  It also held an epic Sunday car boot sale too, a dream for bargain hunters looking to snap up a deal.

At the time, owners Salford Estates said it was forced to close because of an increased number of salespeople hawking ‘knock off goods.’

They built a Netto on the former site before it was closed and re-opened as an ASDA

Old Smithfield Market

Old Smithfield Market
Old Smithfield Market – Photo credit: Manchester Libraries

Formerly siuated in the Northern Quarter before it moved to Openshaw in 1973, Smithfield Market was a bustling historic market selling everything from fruit and veg, fish, to meat and flowers.

It opened in the 1850s, and was so popular that stalls spilled out into the surrounding areas.

The hustle and bustle of Smithfield Market. Photo credit: Manchester Libraries

Despite moving to Openshaw and still serving customers to this day, it’s not quite the same as browsing the original market for fresh produce.

In 1872, the Smithfield area around Shudehill and Thomas Street was transformed by the creation of the wholesale fruit, vegetable and fish markets. Situated in what is now known as the Northern Quarter, Smithfield was a cavernous structure filled with the vibrancy and chaos of goods being loaded and deals being made.

The beautifully carved arches of the original fish market can still be seen from the cobbles of the High Street.

Lower Campfield Market

Lower Campfield Market
The city exhibition hall in 1914 Photo Credit: Manchester Libraries

Completed in 1878, the Lower Campfield Market Hall was designed as a ‘canopied’ open-sided market hall.

Within just a few years of opening as market halls, Lower Campfield Market was largely turned over to travelling exhibitions, such as the ‘Smoke Abatement Exhibition’ in 1882.

When Britain went to war with Germany in 1914, the building was used initially as an indoor military parading ground for the Manchester Pals Battalions. During the First World War, buildings often changed use as needed for the war effort, and in 1917, women workers later used the hall to test fuzes for explosive shells. After the First World War ended in 1918, the building was used by the Ministry of Labour until 1920 for the purpose of training soldiers and sailors in new occupations.

Between the two World Wars, from 1920 to 1939 Manchester’s textile, engineering and commercial industries again filled the hall with varied and popular displays.

When the Second World War broke out in 1939, the building was again repurposed for the war effort. This time, due to its enormous size, women workers tested barrage balloons inside the building.

After playing a part in two World Wars, and some well-earned renovation, the Lower Campfield Market re-opened as City Exhibition Hall for popular public exhibitions in 1947. Through the 1950s and 1960s, the building enjoyed a heyday as the go to destination in Manchester for modern, entertaining lifestyle exhibitions.

After a long and eventful century, the history and Victorian architecture of the Lower Campfield Market was recognised by English Heritage when they awarded it Grade II listed building status in 1974. However, despite this important recognition of the building’s historical value, the building was falling into disrepair. A final blow to the City Exhibition Hall was dealt when in 1977, almost 100 years since the building first opened as a market hall, it suffered a disastrous fire which damaged the east end of the building. The damage was so severe that Manchester City Council considered demolition.

Thanks to many persuasive advocates, they instead took the decision to restore the building and use it to house Manchester Air & Space Museum, with aircraft exhibits to be borrowed on long term loan from the RAF Museum and other lenders.

In mid-1982, an inaugural meeting was held at Manchester Town Hall of a Society of Friends to provide volunteers for the new Manchester Air & Space Museum. Enthusiasm was high, and several hundred willing volunteers turned up. Later in 1982 the volunteers visited the building, and saw the preparations marching ahead, and the museum opened triumphantly on 30 March 1983.

The Science Museum Group took stewardship of the building and collections since the lease was transferred to the Group in 2012. The Lower Campfield Market was the popular Air and Space Hall of the Science and Industry Museum for an action-packed 35 years, from 1985. The gallery was the venue for clubs, special events, costumed character shows, a planetarium, dinners, fairs, gigs, photo shoots, art installations, whisky tastings and more.

It is now set to be turned into a swanky new work place.

Grey Mare Lane market in Beswick

Grey Mare Lane Market
Photo credit: Manchester Libraries

It has been said that if you couldn’t find it for sale at Grey Mare lane Market, it doesn’t exist.

Being able to buy anything from underwear to a coffin, Grey Mare Lane Market in Beswick used to be one of the city’s biggest before it was flattened in a bit to regenerate East Manchester.

It opened way back in at least 1930, but the modern market as it was officially known opened in 1971.

Serving as a vital Manchester community hub, it used to draw shoppers from all over the city.

It was moved in 1993 to a temporary spot near Beswick Precinct after work began on updated East Manchester Relief Road.

What are your memories of these Greater Manchester Markets? Share them with us at [email protected]

Did we miss something? Let us know: [email protected]

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