Sneinton Community Traders
Everyone who grew up in Nottingham can remember Sneinton Market; the crockery sellers, the huge sweet stalls of the 1980’s, the lace, fabrics, and just about anything else imaginable. There was always something interesting to look at, bargains to be had, and a piece of Nottingham’s heritage to savour.
Over time, however, modern day changes affected trade. The moving of the wholesale market further out of town, restrictions to parking, and perhaps most significantly, changes in shopping habits in favour of the big supermarkets. The City Council wanted to close Sneinton Market in 2005, but the traders successfully bid to keep it open forming Sneinton Community Traders Ltd.
Sneinton itself had undergone changes; the development of student housing and a growth in the young adult population – many of whom stayed on after Uni. The task was to maintain and rebuild good relations with the current market traders and local traditional community, and also cater for a new audience. Sneinton is home to many different people including young professionals, artists and musicians who like to get up later in the day and make more of a social occasion out of shopping!
Some people had doubts about major supermarkets, and with a big interest locally in growing organic food, there were question marks over freshness and supply chains. It seemed like a good time to revive and attract new traders and customers so that the Market could reclaim its place as a centre of the community. With this in mind the Market continued – but there were certain issues that couldn’t be overcome by trading alone.
Brian and Wendy took over as Managers in 2008. High on the Agenda was working with the City Council to find solutions to some of the environmental issues that work against the Market. They spent the first few months getting to know the stall holders and working out the best way of taking the traditional market into the 21st century. ‘What strikes me most’ said Wendy, ‘is just how many of the market traders have stood here for generations. This is really important to people who belong to the area and whose families have a long connection with the place.’
The Old Market
Records of Sneinton Market date back to the 1850s. In early Victorian times, the lace making and stocking industries led to gross overcrowding within the old city walls. The Enclosure Act of 1845 allowed the old town to break out and redevelop on open land. The great planners of the era laid out parks such as the Arboretum and the Forest for all to enjoy, and bye-law housing in Sneinton Dale and St. Ann’s Well Road. The conservation area at Sneinton Market dates from this time, and a market has been held on the open land in front of Victoria Baths ever since.
Perhaps because of its position to the East of the City, and proximity to the Lace Market this is where the transport hubs of the City grew; two railway stations, Trent Bridge and the roads that would bring in food from Lincolnshire and the market gardens of Newark and the Trent Valley. The wholesale market developed here, with the old buildings dating from 1938, and the thriving, bustling 60 stalls or so traded for well over a Century.
Late Victorian housing in Sneinton and St Ann’s meant that workers lived near to the source of their work and many industries grew up in the area, supported by the casual economy and successful trades of the market place.
The area is well loved by Nottingham people; a public campaign saved the Old Ragged School from closure, and a huge swell of public opinion in 2009 saved the Clock Tower from demolition and resulted in the new Victoria Leisure Centre. The laying down of a new public square has been a second step in the regeneration of the area. The Market is a part of the new Cultural Quarter and a natural hub between Sneinton, St Ann’s and the Lace Market. The Old Market Buildings have a question mark hanging over them – In early 2013 it seems they may be partly restored and partly redeveloped.
Events held on the Square these last few years are proving popular, just like the new fountains outside Victoria Baths. Events have been organised by Transition Nottingham, the Apples and Pears Craft Market, New College Nottingham and the Brotherhood of the Bow (St. Ann’s Well heritage group). Special heritage markets attract large numbers of people and are a chance for the whole community to come together and enjoy the Market. Very importantly, there are many newcomers in the area from cultures where markets are really important. Sneinton Market should become a place again where start-up businesses thrive and everyone has a chance to trade.