IT dates back to 1255 and is associated with centuries of tradition.

But the Warrington Market team reckon moving with the times has been the key to being named best small indoor market at the Great British Market Awards.

Judges for NABMA (National Association of British Market Authorities) praised the market’s journey from the old building to the temporary indoor market ‘without sacrificing quality, infrastructure or atmosphere’.


NABMA president Geraldine Carter also said that markets can be at the heart of the community by providing unique shopping opportunities. And Warrington Market operations manager Paul Blaney and project manager Andy Ward could not agree more after developing a contemporary food hall and hosting a range of pop-up events to bring new people into the building.

Paul said: “What’s driving people now is we have a more modern facility and we’ve got a great mix of proactive traders that we work together with to attract different audiences.

“Some people are coming because of the likes of Café at the End of the Universe and Liverpool Cheese Company and the move has also enabled a lot of the older traders to freshen up their business offer.

Warrington Guardian:

“We’ve got Steve from key cutting and shoe repair business Moran’s who’s taken over the family business and he’s really moved it forward and is expanding his offer with the ‘Renovation Station’ specialising in refurbishing footwear.

“Older traders are still attracting their longstanding customer base but we’re getting a lot of new faces coming through to the market.


“We’ve had more than a million people through the door within a year which is pretty substantial. I think it’s 1.3 million we’re now at – it’s a steady 18,000 to 20,000 people a week. We’ve become a destination.”

Considering the upheaval that is not bad going.

Warrington Guardian:

Warrington Market moved to its temporary home in September 2017 and is due to relocate to its permanent base in Bridge Street in 14 months as part of the Time Square development.

Andy said: “We’re in a cul-de-sac surrounded by a building site so it’s not somewhere you can just stumble across.

“But because of events and the way we promote the market the footfall has remained pretty high.”

READ > Officers found drink driver's keys in her bra


Warrington Market was also recognised at the Great British Market Awards for its events such as the street food events at Christmas, geek and pop culture pop-up market and record fair.

Paul, a former Padgate High School student, said: “We’ve tried to be innovative with how we run the market to recognise that the high street is changing and we have to change too.”

Warrington Guardian:

John Beddows runs the market's record fair

Among the current range of plans is launching the monthly ‘Wire Market’ which could start in April. The name is a nod to the past like Macclesfield’s Treacle Market and the offering would see artisan produce and themed markets on open air stalls in the market forecourt, Buttermarket Street, Market Gate and Bridge Street.

Paul added: “We’re ambitious. We’d like to see specialist pop-up markets running every week in this town if we could. One weekend it might be a craft beer festival, the next might be a vintage fair.

“It’s about a range of things we’re working on over the next couple of years to enhance our permanent indoor market offer and to join the dots between different parts of the town centre.”


Paul, Andy and the team have to consider the near future too.

Next year traders – old and new – will be in a purpose built market in Bridge Street where Boots used to be. One of the big draws is that the food court will be twice the size with room for 13 food outlets as opposed to seven at the moment.

There will also be room for 300 people to eat plus an al fresco seating area in the warmer months in contrast to the 160-capacity dining area currently.

The new food court can also be separated from the rest of the market to open for evening events too. The view is for the new market’s food and drink offering to be rolled out at night from Thursday to Sunday.

Paul said: “McCain did a report around the food industry and it said that 18 food halls are being built this year.

“There’s clearly a drive towards this kind of offer. We just need to take the next step and move into our facility which is open when people are available. Lifestyles have changed and we need to reflect that.

“Markets have become all about experience. I think that’s really key to set us apart from the chains and the run of the mill high street.

“We can’t just build a new facility and expect people to come just because of that. It’s about what else we’re offering.”


Altogether the current market has 44 traders across 54 units but in the new Bridge Street base there will be space for between 65 and 75 traders depending on how the stalls are split. Andy will begin to gauge interest from March.

He said: “We hope to take the majority of traders out of here and we’ll be looking for new traders as well.

“I think they’re excited because it’s tangible now. They can see what it looks like and we try to keep them informed the best we can.”

Warrington Guardian:

Paul added: “It will help with our pop-up events like the geeky market and record fair too.

“If we’ve got a couple of thousand people coming through for an event it can be a bit of a squeeze but the next market is significantly larger and that will give us a great event space in the heart of the town centre.

“Then we’ll have a great public realm on our doorstep. I just imagine what it could be like in 14 months’ time. It’s extremely exciting for a guy who has been born and bred in Warrington to see this come to fruition.

“I’ve been at the market for the best part of 20 years and they’ve been talking about developments throughout that time so to get to this point finally and to look out the window to see the steelwork going up at a rapid rate is incredible.”


But Paul admitted the market does not always work for everyone long term. For example Mareek Singh of Singh’s Grillhouse has recently left the food court.

He said: “Occasionally it doesn’t work for traders. We lost Mareek which is a loss for Warrington Market as he was very popular.

“Mareek is very ambitious and he has been approached by a lot of people. He’s outgrown us. He’s very particular about his offer and he’s just not been able to juggle all the balls he’s got to sustain the stall here.

“It’s a loss for the market but Mareek made it clear to me that the market gave him a platform to develop his business and confidence to level where he’s got people interested in investing in him. We’ve got an eclectic mix of traders. We’re not a huge market. I don’t think you’ve got to be that anymore. It’s about being a bit more concise and providing people with what they want.

“There’s still a little bit of work to be done around that. We have some plans in the pipeline in terms of developing an online presence such as a click and collect scheme and a whole range of things to engage with new audiences at different times. People’s expectations and standards are higher than ever before and we have to make sure we provide that level of service to them.”