It’s hard to say what could be done to improve the market in the future – competition is immense. I wish they could save it, but as soon as you mention the name market, folks automatically think, “Cheap, cheap, cheap.”
Of course, money’s been spent on revamping that area now. There was a young lady on BBC Radio Nottingham recently, on the John Holmes, show – she’s just started a new business down at the new retail units, but they’re not allowed to take money over the counter, due to regulations. I think it’s the end of an era some way or another. Summat’s got to be bolted on to get people to go – more one-off events, well publicised. Fresh faces have got to come forward to invigorate new ideas, but it won’t replace what’s gone.
The sense of community’s vanished – the market needs to entice local people back and think about what would attract the traders – free rent? At present it’s impossible to park anywhere around there – it’s too restricted. It will take a lot of thought and investment in the infrastructure for the market to thrive again. They’ve thrown so much money at that area already, but it’s been wasted. That’s my opinion as a businessman in the area.
These days the council’s ring fenced the market with yellow lines so people can’t pull up and shop – there’s traffic wardens lurking on every corner. People come along and say, “Why ain’t the market doing any good?” Back in the day, there was a little road that ran through Sneinton Market with lorries all the way down there unloading. It was simple, but the market was thriving.
I can’t get around so much now I’m eighty-four, but my daughter did take me down the market a few weeks ago. I needed some smaller furniture and we went to a chap who sells stuff for the homeless in the new units. I also like to go to the fruit and veg stall because it’s very reasonable, but besides them there’s only a couple of other stalls left. There was an elderly lady who sold hats and gloves who used to be there come hail, rain or snow, but even she doesn’t come anymore.
In the future, I’d like to think that people would come back to the market. They’ve spent all that money doing it up but there’s only two stalls there on a Saturday I think and just the fruit people on a Monday. I suppose it’s hard to make a profit on goods these days with all the competition from the supermarkets and the Victoria Centre.
I still have a walk down the market sometimes on a Saturday ’cause I work up Bluebell Hill in the play centre, but you never see anybody buying much, except off the fruit and veg bloke as he’s a lot cheaper than the supermarkets. He’s still the same, shouting, “Come and get your bananas.” I think the café’s gone. There used to be a good fish market down there as well, but it’s all health and safety now and it stops people.
You can never ever go back to how things were – things move on and change, so you have to change with it. But I think if you’re a market stallholder and you’ve done it for years, it’s in your blood, in’t it? And you can’t just change.
There’s a lot of students round there now – if you sold records, vinyl, DVDs and second hand sportswear it might encourage the next generation to come down. If you got enough people with enough clout, you would probably get it back. I’m very creative, very crafty, but some stallholders spend a lot of time making things and they’re not selling them because people aren’t going to give them the money for it. Perhaps if you had little workshops for kids to do creative stuff down there and a play area for them you might encourage something different.
It was only through the Stories of Sneinton Market project that I realised that the market was being revived, or it had been revived, because I thought, “That’s it, it’s gone, it’s changed, it’s just water fountains and a car park.” I’d never driven that way into Sneinton, I’d gone round the back way, so I never knew the market was there until I got the flyer about all the different events that were happening. I did, however go down there for the Olympic torch in 2012 and I thought that was wonderful because Sneinton Market had been the pulse of Sneinton and to have the handover there, the kiss, the touch – it was the perfect place.
I think the current vegan market is great and how the space is used for Light Night and to celebrate the arts. While part of me would like to see that market back to how it was, I supposed that might not work now, because people and communities are different. However, I would like to see the area serve the community in some way and not just Sneinton, to raise awareness to the whole of Nottingham. Everyone I knew in town used to make an effort to walk from the centre down to Sneinton, but that doesn’t seem to happen anymore. People need a reason to go and they need to know what’s happening there, because I certainly didn’t.