Celebrations as new Chester Market officially opens

Geoff Hughes opens the new Chester Market

The new Chester Market opened its doors today (November 8).

The facility, in Exchange Square off Northgate Street, enjoyed a sell-out preview weekend and will now be open six days per week and closed on Mondays.

It replaces the market which had been located in the Forum since it opened in 1967, with around half the traders making the move to the new market.

The driving force behind the new market has been to create a ‘modern traditional market’ that takes the best of the new breed of thriving city produce markets such as Borough Market in London, or Barcelona market, combined with pioneering communal foodhall markets in Altrincham and Stockholm, to create a unique blend of produce, goods, food and beverage traders in a welcoming and inclusive space for everyone to enjoy, where visitors can shop local and eat global.

The design of the market was guided by extensive consultation with residents and traders prior to construction to ensure it could be fit for purpose, adaptable and sustainable.

Cutting the ribbon at the opening was Geoff Hughes, who first started working in the old market when he was 14, later setting up Geoff Hughes Family Butchers in 1996, together with his wife, Debbie.

Geoff said: “We look forward to welcoming all our current customers and gaining many new ones.”

Stalls have been constructed from 60 tonnes of solid oak beams expertly crafted to create a warm and natural environment, alongside a heritage corner featuring an 1875 map of Chester and displays about the archaeology of the site and the city’s rich history.

Four seating areas offer customers a range of options from communal banquette-style seating around large tables, to a smaller scale garden area under a beautifully crafted pergola and with outdoor seating along the Princess Street walkway and more intimate seating booths in the mini market area overlooking Hunter Street.

The much-loved Chester in Lego display from the old market will be carefully rebuilt into its new home in specially designed cabinets with some new additions added by its creator, Richard Trotter.

Market interior

The design of the central bar takes its shape from the three arches of the Coachworks Arcade frontage built in 1914 and will be called Lockwood & Co in tribute to the architects of the coachworks, T.M. Lockwood & Sons, who designed a number of buildings in the city including the famous black and white No. 1 Bridge Street corner rows at the cross.

The council has big ambitions for the new market, to build on the old market’s success and deliver a significant step-change in environment, choice and experience.

It says it will establish a new benchmark for city centre markets, blending traditional character, range and value alongside innovative new approaches, from nutrition to sustainability, creativity to inclusivity.