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29 October 2014

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The temporary market stalls on Gentleman's Walk.
The temporary stalls on Gentleman's Walk

New era for market

A landmark Norwich scene has been replaced by a building site. The market's eye-catching striped rooftops have gone as the site gets a revamp, forcing some of the stalls to move down to Gentleman's Walk, writes Amy Barratt.

Bulldozers and diggers are turning into a common sight at Norwich Market. The 1970's stalls are being torn down as part of a multi-million pound revamp of the country's biggest outdoor six-day market.

But the changes aren't being welcomed by everyone. Some traders have moved into temporary accommodation on Gentleman's Walk and say their profits are plummeting.

At the start of the year, plans to transform Norwich Market were put into motion. Builders have taken over the top right-hand corner of the Norman site near St Peter Mancroft church. The work is expected to be completed around September.

During the upheaval, traders are continuing to work. Some are still doing business on the traditional market place. Others are being housed in temporary stalls along Gentleman's Walk.

Andy Warman has worked on the market for around 30 years. He runs the leather stall and has experienced a drop in takings since moving.

"For me personally it's a waste of time being here," he said.

"I didn't take anything at all yesterday. People don't know where I am and give up looking quite easily. People are confused it seems," he added.

Fishmonger Malcolm Snelling.
Fishmonger Malcolm Snelling

But the shake-up is being welcomed by some stall-holders who are reporting a rise in takings.

Tim Nickerson from Eostre Organics says more customers are coming to the co-operative greengrocers.

"It's pretty busy generally now we're right on the Walk," he said.

"It's a lot more busier than we were back on the old market. Hopefully when we go back on the new market we can take those customers with us."

The stall-holders are experiencing mixed fortunes during the revamp. While most agree that change was sorely needed, some are worried they won't survive.

Malcolm Snelling has run a fish stall on Norwich Market for 46 years.

"Now we've been put in Brigg Street you can say at least 40 per cent - nearly 50 per cent - of the trade has gone" he said.

"The way we're tucked up here, we're not part of the market any more," he added.

Other traders are worried how the character of the market could be compromised. Dale Baker took over the foam and rubber stall from his father more than 30 years ago.

"I hope that it doesn't become a little glorified shopping mall because that's not really what a market is," he said.

"But I can see that's where it's heading especially with the rent increases. If they go up I will look for new premises, which will be a sad day."

Although it's prevailed during challenging times in the past, the changes facing Norwich Market today are on an unprecedented scale. In the words of one trader it's a wait-and-see game.

last updated: 21/03/05
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