Why we should support Chesterfield's market – not just complain about it

Along with the Crooked Spire, Chesterfield’s open air market is what put the town on the map.

Tuesday, 30th March 2021, 3:04 pm
Updated Tuesday, 30th March 2021, 3:12 pm

As you enter the borough, signs proudly proclaim that you’re arriving at north Derbyshire’s ‘historic market town’, after all.

And it’s hardly surprising that we should make the most of it, Chesterfield’s market has been a place to buy and sell goods for over 800 years now.

But there seems to be little pride left for it today.

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It’s an all-too common complaint for locals to bemoan the current number and range of stalls compared to yesteryear.

But then nostalgia isn’t what it used to be, either…

I wonder how many of those people who grumble about the modern market have actually used it in the last five years, or ten – and how many realise those two things might just be related.

Despite appearances to the contrary, I wasn’t actually around to see the town received its market charter from King John in 1204 .

Chesterfield market

But I do have a lot of affection for it. When I was at school, one of my first jobs was unloading and loading bolts of cloth for a textiles market trader every Saturday.

The cash I earned was often spent on records or books I picked up from other market traders – and hunting for illusive 12 inch singles by obscure thrash metal bands on the Thursday flea market was another occupation of my teenage years.

Of course, today’s teens don’t need to rifle through piles of records to find the music they want. Thanks to the likes of Spotify and other streaming services, they literally have every song ever recorded in their pocket.

And that’s the problem. Our consuming and shopping habits have changed beyond recognition in the last eight years, never mind 800.

As part of the £3.25million Revitalising the Heart of Chesterfield project., Chesterfield Borough Council is launching a consultation into the future of the market.

And I do believe it has a future – the success of artisan and farmers markets has shown that – and there are opportunities to create a unique shopping experience in the town, with the market at its heart. We just need to appreciate it and, above all, make sure we use it.