Re-imagining a traditional Market Hall

It’s a familiar story. Not long ago, Radcliffe’s heart and spirit were its’ Market Hall; the place where everyone would meet. It offered everything anyone could need or want as part of their daily life. But, as shopping patterns and lifestyles evolved, and the Council’s investment changed, the Market Hall suffered.

The decline of the heart of the community

Competition brought a decline in footfall and purchasing power. Traders with markets in their blood, forced to close. The Hall’s cycle of decline hastened. In poor repair, it fell foul to flooding and leaking roofs. A general gloom of resignation set in. The town would have to accept losing a vital part of its proud heritage, a heritage since 1851.

Then the story that’s familiar to so many towns changes. A committed group of residents came together with the remaining Market stallholders. They petitioned the Council and showed they were better placed to run the Hall. Drawing on their own expertise, they drafted an outline plan to save the Market Hall from further decay and make it new heart of the town.

Getting the heart back

To truly place local people at the heart of everything it would be doing, the group chose to form as a co-operative. This ensured that people had a true voice in it, and that it would remain accountable to them as a community into the future.

Impressed by their enthusiasm, the Council awarded the group a licence in 2018 to manage the Market Hall. This initial ‘win’ caught the interest of the Bright Ideas Programme. The group won invaluable development support, and funding from the programme.

See the Radcliffe Market website

A thriving heart of the community once more

As a result of the support from the Bright Ideas Fund, Radcliffe Market Hall has evolved into a thriving new heart of the town. It’s almost unrecognisable from only two years ago.

  • Traditional stalls are increasing in number from an initial five, to eight, with two more in the pipeline. There are now nine permanent hot food stalls, too, two of which serve desserts.
  • There are monthly Fine Food and Handmade Events from the wider North West. The Market Hall now sees over 800 people a week enjoying its facilities.
  • Exhibition and performance space showcasing and celebrating theatre, cinema, and music
  • Refurbishment and enhanced facilities makes it easier for Market Traders to ‘set up shop’.
  • Developments provide a platform for young people to test bed start-up enterprises.
  • Established links with food growers bring easier access to affordable, locally sourced food. This helps the local economy to grow, as well as enriching people’s diets and well-being
  • A Facebook page sees over 4,000 people following its ongoing story
  • As a Community Benefit Society with an open Membership, local residents and traders, and the wider community, are engaging with the development and future of the Hall.
  • Future plans and aspirations include:
    • staging a community share offer;
    • creating a community kitchen and growing wall in partnership with Incredible Edible;
    • gaining recognition as a regional destination venue.

From its formation in 1851, to its rebirth in 2018, a simple market hall is capturing the interest of wider national bodies as to what the future of market halls can be, everywhere …

Find out if the Bright Ideas Fund could help your community business idea