Buxton Market loses sparkle as jewel in the crown

Buxton Market in August 1999.
Buxton Market in August 1999.

In days gone by, Buxton Market was a hive of activity – a renowned jewel in the town’s crown.

Now, it is a shadow of its former self.

Buxton Market Place.

Buxton Market Place.

The once-popular attraction used to dominate the Market Place with swarms of shoppers keen to snap up a bargain at a seemingly never-ending stretch of stalls. In recent years, however, it has dwindled dramatically. On Saturday afternoon, only a handful of hardy traders had set up shop as a trickle of customers mooched around.

Watch seller Graham Howe, who has worked at Buxton Market for 33 years, said times were tough.

The market stalwart recalled: “At one time there were 350 stalls here – it’s definitely changed a lot over the years.

“I think the council could do more to support us and personally I’d like to see the market down on Spring Gardens.

“Whatever happens, I hope more Buxton folk buy from their market – it’s a case of use it or lose it,” he warned.

Sock seller John Molloy added: “As soon as you mention Buxton Market to traders in places like Leek and Chesterfield, they laugh. We meet a lot of tourists who ask ‘is this the entire market?’ It’s embarrassing.” Traditional markets have suffered significantly in recent years in the face of underinvestment and competition from out-of-town supermarkets and the internet.

Joe Harrison, chief executive of the National Market Traders’ Federation, said: “It is a serious situation.

“If Buxton wants to retain and revive its market, it needs to move to a more prominent area of town like Spring Gardens – this would boost current trade and help attract more stallholders and be a shot in the arm for other high street shops.”

High Peak Borough Council said it was exploring ways to boost Buxton Market – which could include re-locating stalls.

Councillor Godfrey Claff, executive member for regeneration, said: “The nature of how and where people shop is changing and town centres need to be able to respond to these changes effectively.

“The Portas Review of high streets, carried out on behalf of the Government, clearly demonstrated that towns need to offer visitors reasons to come and visit and spend their leisure time there.

“And that is about offering much more than just retail opportunities.

“In Buxton, we’ve developed a hugely successful year-round programme of specialist markets and events at the Pavilion Gardens ranging from farmers’ markets to craft fairs.

“These events have gone from strength to strength and benefit the wider town centre businesses as well due to the increased number of visitors they attract.

“We recognise that traditional markets are also a part of that mix of attractions and we’re working with stallholders on what that might mean for Buxton.

“One of the options would be to re-locate stalls but this would only happen after full consultation with local people and the traders themselves.

“No decisions have yet been made but we will continue to explore all the opportunities open to us to make sure our towns are resilient and flexible enough to respond to changing shopping and leisure habits.”

Councillors are due to consider plans to freeze rents for stalls at Buxton Market.

If you are interested in operating a stall at the market, visit customer-services@highpeak.gov.uk or phone 0845 129 7777 or 01298 28400.

Scores of readers have been in touch with the Buxton Advertiser over the state of the town’s market.

Our social networking sites were flooded with messages on the subject.

On our Facebook page, Kayleigh Bert Nolan said: “Buxton Market used to be good – now it’s pretty much non-existent.”

Fiona Lichfield commented: “They should move the market to run down the middle of Spring Gardens. It would fit and would create some hustle and bustle down there.”

Margaret Kirk added: “Our market is a waste of time. It used to be pretty good but now it may as well not exist. There’s nothing there to tempt you to bother looking.”

Ann Percy said: “The market has gone downhill big time – I never use it now.”

Gill Mitchell commented: “In the 1960s and 1970s there were stalls down Market Street and on both sides of the road.

“It was a busy, thriving market.

“There was lots of variety and everyone came from the surrounding villages to do their shopping.”

Stu Pot added: “There should be more stalls.”

On Twitter, Dave Crisp said: “It needs moving down to the Crescent and reviving.”

Phillip Greaves tweeted: “I don’t think two or th’ree stalls really makes a market.”

However, it wasn’t all criticism as Susan Wallis said she still shopped at Buxton Market.

• What are your views on Buxton Market?

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