Last stall leaves 135-year-old indoor Maesteg Market

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A 135-year-old Grade II listed indoor market that only had one stall for the last seven months has closed after the final traders moved out.

Maesteg Market stallholders started to leave the basement of the town hall in 2016 after Bridgend council announced plans to overhaul the building.

It said it wanted to turn it into a cultural hub and that urgent repairs were needed.

Final stallholder Marcelle Humphreys said it had been a lonely few months.

Ms Humphreys, 64, who runs Sew and Sew with Elisabeth Langdon, 51, had insisted the council serve them six months' notice before they left the market.

Image source, Wales News Service
Image caption,
Marcelle Humphreys has run Sew and Sew for 12 years

They had been concerned that if they moved to an outside unit their £47 weekly rent would only be frozen for two years.

But they left the market on Thursday and now have a shop just outside the town hall.

Ms Humphreys said it was "very lonely", "very desolate" and "quite awful" in the market alone but added: "We were determined we were going to see it out."

Image caption,
Maesteg Market, which opened in 1881, was in the basement of Maesteg Town Hall

Two years ago, the market had 12 businesses supporting 20 jobs.

While some have moved to other premises, Ms Humphreys said she knew of five former traders who had now closed completely.

"There was a pet shop in there that was going for 70 years and that's gone, putting three of the girls out of work," she said.

"There was another one there who had been there for 20 years. He gave up because he didn't want to come outside and pay the extra rents that are out here.

"Others just found the footfall gradually dropped because people thought the work was going to be done immediately and it was starting to be closed.

"So we have struggled in there for the last 18 months, definitely."

Image caption,
The pet shop had been in the market for 70 years

Bridgend council plans to turn the building into a cultural hub, complete with a library, and applied for £4m of European funding.

"Maesteg Market continues in the form of the £2.5m modern outdoor market, which is where the majority of the former indoor stallholders are now based," said a council spokesman.

Image source, Stephen Fairclough
Image caption,
Two years ago the market had 12 businesses, supporting 20 jobs

"The redevelopment planned for Maesteg Town Hall is about much more than the indoor market. The 135-year-old Grade II listed building is showing its age, and requires essential and expensive repairs to ensure that it can remain open and safe.

"If we don't address this, the entire building will eventually have to close down, which would mean not only losing the indoor market, but also the main hall, stage, performance area and more."

Image source, Stephen Fairclough
Image caption,
Bridgend council now has plans to turn the building into a cultural hub and library