Bury Market may be hundreds of years old – but it’s as popular as ever – having just been voted Britain’s Favorite Market.
Today (Thursday, February 3), judges at the Great British Market Awards 2022 presented the trophy to the town’s famous market for the second time.
But what is it about Bury Market that shoppers like so much?
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Eileen Gilroy, from Stalybridge, says Bury is lucky to still have the market.
“Even if you don’t get a bargain you feel like you’ve got a bargain,” she said.
For her, markets are ‘therapeutic’ and even create a sense of family.
“There’s so many different levels to markets, but it’s about people. It’s not about anything else than people,” she said.
For another shopper the MEN spoke to, the reason she loves the market is simple.
“It’s the nearest to me and I like Bury Market,” she said.
She lives five miles away, and for her, it seems to be a way of life.
“There’s different shops in different places. It’s convenient and I see friends,” she said.
In many ways, Bury Market is the town centre. It’s where she does all of her shopping for her, and where all her friends for her do their shopping for her too.
It’s certainly at the core of the town – and always has been – something not all historic market towns are still able to claim.
Bury Market may be the glue that holds the town together – but it’s certainly not just loved by locals.
It’s a tourist destination in its own right
Coaches line up, especially in the summer, bringing in shoppers from elsewhere in the UK to visit the famous market.
Perhaps it’s down to those visitors that Bury Market has been voted most popular in the country once again.
One stall owner, Hiten Varma, certainly believes the coaches have something to do with Bury Market thriving more than others.
“We’ve got a lot of stalls open and we get a lot of people coming on coaches,” he said.
He also says that people like the variety – that they can enjoy all of the outdoor stalls and then make their way into the indoor market – where his card shop Days to Remember is based.
Of course, you can’t forget the fish and meat hall – or the fact that you can find Bury’s famous black pudding too.
The market was granted its charter in the 1440s and now attracts millions of visitors every year and thousands of coaches from across the country.
It boats 370 stalls on its three sites – the Market Hall, Outdoor Market, and the Fish and Meat Hall.
“Bury Market is great because of the variety of the individual stores,” said Gill Eagle-Cooper, from Eagles Bookstall.
She says the market is particularly loved by the ‘older generation’.
“There’s loads of bargains to be had on Bury Market,” she said.
Councillor Charlotte Morris, cabinet member for culture and the economy, said: “We’re thrilled that Bury Market has won yet another national award, this one decided by the people who visit it, as we did in 2019.
“It’s a fitting reward for the traders, who make the market the wonderful place it is and ensure that our many thousands of visitors have a great day out and pick up bargains galore.
“Bury Market is truly the town’s ‘jewel in the crown’, and this latest award shows just how popular the market is with people across the length and breadth of the country.”
And plans are well under way to inject huge amounts of cash into the market.
Bury has won £20 million from the Leveling Up Fund, which will transform the market area and include a new flexi-hall.
This state-of-the-art, carbon neutral, multifunctional events space will support market stalls, ‘pop-up’ trading, live performance, and community events.
Councillor Eamonn O’Brien, leader of the council, said: “This investment, plus nearly £5 million more from Bury Council, will bring regeneration and prosperity both to the market and the wider town center area.
“We are determined to have the best of both worlds – to keep all that is great about our historic traditional market, while making sure we adapt to the challenges posed by the rise in online shopping and customers’ changing preferences.”
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.