In spring 2022, I wrote a series of articles for Blog Preston focusing on Preston Markets. I also took a number of photos to accompany the articles. In this, the final instalment, I visited the Box Market.
The Box Market launched five years ago, situated underneath the historic Fish Market canopy, the contemporary containers are home to a number of independent businesses. It is also where you will find the record fair trading every other month. We went to find out more.
“We have been running Real Deal Record and CD Fairs since April 2017,” said Mark Edwards. “The reason we enjoy coming to Preston is that we get on well with the traders and management at the Box Market and all the collectors are very friendly and enthusiastic.”
Mark is a fan of Preston’s Evil Blizzard, so he was delighted to discover that one of the band’s many bass players is a regular visitor to the record fair. Talk of the band making a personal appearance at a future record fair is, as yet, unconfirmed.
We meet Bernard Lennon resting by the Box Market. He enjoys shopping in the Market Hall, “everything tastes fresher than it does when you buy it from the supermarket. In the supermarket, it’s wrapped in plastic and refrigerated which takes away any taste.”
“I love buying oranges, pears, plums. I started eating more fruit and vegetables for my health and wellbeing after I came out of hospital after being treated for cancer.”
“I’ve been shopping at Preston Market for three or four years since I moved closer to the city centre. Everything I want is in one place, with my disability it’s good to know I can buy everything together.”
Geoff Sharrock runs Pet Stop Supplies on the Box Market. He sells anything pet related from dog beds, to cat toys, flea treatments to fish food.
“I’m getting new products in all the time,” he said. “Wild bird food is popular, as well as dog treats and accessories. It’s been quieter lately but hopefully, it will pick up now the weather is getting better.”
The Box Market is a great place for gifts, next door to Pet Stop Supplies, Petra sells beautiful handmade hairbows, scrunchies and hair accessories from her Crystal Hairbows stall. Originally, she ran a stall on the outdoor market and decided to take a more permanent stall in the Box Market when one arose. She prides herself on being able to make hair accessories to match any outfit or theme. She can even personalise them. Dani Moore runs DD Practicals, with her husband Dave, like Petra she makes all her leather products by hand. Next door, Print and Gift Box offer a range of good quality personalised gifts, from mugs to money boxes, bags to clothing.
Priest Town Brewing is a popular stop for beer and ale lovers, stocking beers and ales from local breweries such as Beer Brothers, Rivington Brewing Co, Twisted Wheel Craft Brewery as well as their own Priest Town Craft Beers, amongst many others.
Karen Davie sells an array of antiques, jewellery, watches, clothing, coins, and broaches amongst many other intriguing things at her Box Market stall, Karen’s Collectables.
“We used to run car boot stalls, one particularly windy year the gazebo blew over the van. Someone suggested Preston Market, so we started trading here on the windiest corner at the back.”
Karen and her husband traded every week on the outdoor market, when Preston City Council announced they were opening the Box Market she jumped at the chance.
“It was the best move ever,” she said. “We were still running a stall on the outdoor market whilst fixing up our stall on the Box Market. I love it on Preston Market. All the managers are brilliant, I enjoy being my own boss and I enjoy speaking to people.”
“Today we had a man called Gary who was visiting Preston from America, it’s great meeting people on holiday here as well as people who come to the stall regularly.”
“We’re like one big family on the Box Market, I take parcels in for the other traders. It’s getting busier now. It was busy today. The only thing we could do with is more signage, signs to say that the market is here.”
Graham Bass helps out on his daughter’s stall, the Market Jewellers and enjoys helping Karen out. His daughter, who started working with him when she was 13, is a highly skilled jeweller and runs the Market Jewellers, fixing watches, fitting watch batteries and replacing watch straps.
Graham tells me about her qualifications, “she is very good, very professional.”
Graham has worked on market stalls for over 40 years, spending 27 of those in the old market, running Graham’s Jewellers. Sadly, he feels that Preston Market isn’t what it was, a lot has changed and he feels that it lacks the market atmosphere of old.
On the corner of the Box Market is Jonah’s, a speciality coffee shop and mobile coffee bar. As well as serving delicious artisan coffee, they also have a lovely selection of cakes, which you can enjoy sitting outside reading a newspaper or magazine from Restvale newsagents across the road, on the side of the Market Hall.
Finally, there’s the Orchard Bar. One of the loveliest things about visiting Preston Market is spending time chatting to people, whether it’s traders or people visiting the market. There isn’t the sense of urgency as there is on the mad Saturday supermarket dash, it was by chatting to people we discovered that Deepdale Duck’s person works behind the bar in the Orchard Bar. This hidden gem is a craft beer bar serving a range of tasty beers and ales. Leading up to, and over the summer, The Orchard Bar is host to live acts every Saturday night.
Adrian Robinson, Interim Director of Customer Services at Preston City Council, said: “Preston Markets have been at the heart of Preston for over 150 years. This was confirmed during the Covid lockdowns. At a time when many supermarket shelves were empty and there was a great deal of uncertainty, traders worked incredibly hard to deliver fresh produce daily to the people of Preston.
Maintaining, supporting, and promoting the many areas of Preston Markets is a priority for Preston City Council. The developments surrounding the markets are part of the Towns Fund Investment programme which includes the Animate scheme on the former Market Hall site, this will increase the footfall in this area.
Since the pandemic, footfall figures for Preston Markets are above the national average. These have continued to steadily increase throughout 2022 and as we head into summer, which is usually a busy time for Preston we expect them to continue increasing.
The quality produce that is available daily from the committed and hardworking traders in all areas of Preston Markets, is an integral part of our city, both now and in the future.”