Historic town centre market shuts up shop

HECKMONDWIKE’s historic outdoor market is to close after 201 years in the town centre.

The market, which received its official charter in 1810, closes tomorrow.

From Tuesday, outdoor stall holders are relocating to the indoor market to join stall holders there.

A Kirklees Council spokeswoman said the decision was made to merge the markets to ‘create a more vibrant atmosphere in the main indoor market and give customers a more inviting shopping experience.’

She said the indoor market was ‘thriving’ with its butcher’s, greengrocer’s and a new cafe alongside the cooked meat and pie shop, sweet stall and clothing stalls.

When it was first set up the outdoor market was only held on a Saturday. Anyone could put up a stall for 2d.

After the Fairs and Clauses Act of 1866 tolls were increased which was unpopular with traders.

It was agreed the Heckmondwike’s market place would be paved and stalls provided. The new market opened on February 29, 1868, and a big celebration was held in the town centre.

A charter in 1880 led to the introduction of the Tuesday market. The first midweek market was held on July 9 of that year, when the town was trimmed up and there was a procession through the streets.

It became a bustling attraction with several locations around the town centre and the market continued to be held on both days.

Until the 1980s waiting lists for a stall were said to be six months long and the busy market attracted shoppers from miles around.

But over the past 20 years numbers of both shoppers and stalls have dwindled and there are now only a handful of outdoor stalls on Saturdays and Tuesdays.

Heckmondwike ward councillor David Sheard, Cabinet member for investment and housing, said: “The market is an important asset to the town centre.

“We have a dedicated team of stall holders in the market who are keen to make a success of the consolidated market offer.

“I encourage all local residents to support the market and all our town centre businesses.’

l On Tuesday December 20 the indoor market will host free face painting, Christmas music and entertainment.