Last traders bid fond farewell to market

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Lancaster’s market hall is closing its doors to the public for the last time.

I’m here on a bustling Friday in the town centre, but in the market hall there is a ghostly silence.

It is a deeply moving and sad time for traders such as Roger Green from Morecambe who has had his stall on Lancaster Market since 1962.

Roger, whose grandmother was from Star Bank Farm in Dolphinholme and used to sell butter from a stall in Lancaster Market, says its the end of an era for trading in the city.

Roger and the last of his fellow traders, say they feel anger towards the city council for failing to keep the market open.

Several stallholders have found alternative premises but Roger and Christopher have reluctantly decided to call it a day.

As yet another customer hands him a cake and gives him a hug, Roger says: “The market is very well supported by the local people, but Lancaster is no longer a shopping destination for people outside the city.

“There are two main things draining the life out of market towns: the cost of parking and ridiculously high rents.

“It’s also the effects of other towns and cities that can offer better shopping centres.”

Roger’s father worked at Morecambe railway station and his mother had a stall on Morecambe’s old Poulton Market. Roger remembers Eric Morecambe’s father, George Bartholomew, who worked on Poulton Market in the ‘50s and ‘60s.

“Eric’s father was the market porter,” says Roger. “He wheeled the boxes out and he used to put up the canvas covers on the stalls.”

Internationally-renowned designer, Wayne Hemmingway, was a regular at Poulton Market when he was a boy: “He went around with his mum and his gran,” recalls Roger. “They dragged him round the stalls every week.

“I think they made clothes and they bought material from an ex-Polish pilot with one eye.”

Roger first started helping out on Poulton Market at the age of 11 in the school holidays.

“I really took to it,” he says. “It was a bit of fun. Everything was British-made in those days.

“It was an interesting place to work.

“The market was heaving because there were so many people in the hotels and holiday camps.”

When Roger started working on Lancaster Market in 1962 there were 11 butchers, two pork butchers, three cheese stalls, four fishmongers, a cafe and a Polish shop in a tin shed close to where Marks & Spencer stands.

Roger is still deeply unhappy with the city council, but says he has many good memories of the market: “There has always been a very friendly atmosphere with the tenants. Over the years we have served generations of Lancaster people.

“The public have been very supportive and we would like to thank them very much for all the cards and cakes. We really appreciate it.”

By Friday M. Green and Son of Lancaster Market will be no more. Many traders will open new shops but the camaraderie engendered by this communal space is likely to dissipate.

As I leave, I see two more customers shaking hands with Roger and Christopher.

I can’t help feeling that something incredibly special has come to an end.

Whatever the reasons behind the closure, I for one, will sorely miss Lancaster’s indoor market.