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Ready to trade: Shambles Market. Photographs: Richard McDougall

Shambles Market is between Parliament Street and the back of Shambles

Open daily from 9am-5pm

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Shambles Market will host a free four-day family celebration Friday, Apr 3 to Mon Apr 6

Shambles Market opens on Monday (March 23). It is the biggest change to the city’s market for decades.

Traders will leave their temporary home on Parliament Street for the space formerly known as Newgate Market, revamped and reinvigorated.

So what can we expect? We spoke to Steve Shooter, interim city centre and markets manager, and City of York Council director Charlie Croft to find out.

1. It’s had quite the facelift

Well, with £1.6 million spent on it, you would expect some big changes.

Paving in the area formerly known as Newgate Market has been repaired or replaced, there’s new lighting both in the ground and around the market, the stalls are repaired and repainted with lighter canopies, and the drainage is better.

And of course, there’s that name change.

Newgate didn’t mean anything to people. Newgate isn’t a world-famous street name. And actually the area the market is in was originally part of the Shambles area.

We wanted to reflect its history as well as using it as a marketing opportunity, because it means from now on we can advertise the Shambles and its accompanying market.

– Steve Shooter

2. And it’s bigger

It has 83 stalls – two more than before – as well as seven new permanent kiosks. There are still four retail units housing a butcher, fishmongers and a cheese stall, and these too have been renovated.

3. The layout has changed

Shambles Market layout is designed to make the approach to all areas of the market more accessible and attractive.

A wider central aisle leading to the food area has been nicknamed ‘the Golden Mile’. The hope is that shoppers in Shambles will be lured to the market via a well lit alleyway and signage near Shambles Kitchen – not to mention delicious cooking smells…

4. The market has a food court

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A place to eat and relax
One of the most innovative changes sees an area at the back of Shambles turned into a street food court.

Four of the seven new kiosks are given over to food vendors:

  • Café M – serving jacket potatoes and toppings
  • Mr Tantuni wraps
  • Los Moros – North African and Levantine street food
  • The Flax & Twine – an extension of its Shambles café

You can take these away or eat them in the new seating area, complete with tables, chairs, parasols and heaters for when it’s chilly.

I’m really confident that the food court is going to be a big draw for people and become a nice place to spend 15 minutes of your lunch break.

– market manager Steve Shooter

5. There are three retail kiosks

Like the food kiosks these are rented on an annual, seven-day a week lease.

Interim market manager Steve Shooter believes they will all be open daily within a few weeks, once staffing has been sorted.

These are the new kiosk businesses:

Clox – selling and repairing clocks, watches, batteries, watch straps etc. Run by the Boulby family, transferred from their existing six-day stall

SticksArtStones – selling a range of fair-trade and handmade ornaments, wall plaques and statues for home and garden

Demize – selling body jewellery, street wear like T shirts and hoodies, and modern jewellery

“York is an amazing city and welcomes visitors from all over the world. We wanted York to be the home of our very first shop and we know the Shambles Market is the prefect location.”

– Jason Kelly, co-owner SticksArtStones

6. Look out for new stalls too

There will be up to ten new traders taking up stalls in Shambles Market in the first weeks.

They will be selling everything from kitchenware to recycled picnic blankets to tray bakes like flapjacks and brownies made by a young woman baker – plus a “lot of things that are hand made or artisan,” Steve said.

7. It will be a locals market at heart

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Flashback to when the market temporarily moved back in last year
Although new tourism and marketing body Make It York will look to promote Shambles Market to city visitors, that is not its main purpose.

“Our new project is to not just appeal to tourists, it’s to rebuild it as a shopping area for York residents,” Steve said.

“The core things that the market has always been – fruit and veg, daily items that people use on a regular basis – that’s what we need to get back to.

“It should become a vital part of the city. We have butchers in there, we have fishmongers, we have cheese. We’ve got attractive fruit and veg, and more of the basics.”

But more could be done to improve the mix, he said.

On our market you can buy hand-carved wooden statues but you can’t buy a towel. Or a duvet cover. Lots of every day practical things that our audience would probably go for if we had it.

Once we’re back in and settled, part of our mission is to recruit new traders. We’re open to suggestions.

8. More market plans are afoot

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Another view of the kiosks
The team behind the market are keen to innovate. One suggestion is a monthly antiques market.

But it’s not just about buying and selling. The space could be used for other activities both in and outside trading hours Steve said.

“I’ve been talking to some people who want to do a pirate show in the kids’ holidays, possibly in the market.

“Once the market’s done for the day we’ve got a really big cobbled area that we could do stuff in. If there’s a theatre production going on, have a chat with me – if we can work it, let’s work it.”

9. And there will be a new website

For the first time Shambles Market will have its own website, to be launched soon, as well as social media feeds.

This will not only include information on which stalls are available on which day, it will tell the traders’ stories on a regularly updated blog, said Steve.

10. There is spare capacity

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Stalls are still up for grabs
The Saturday market is over-subscribed. But the market as a whole is not.

Steve estimates that, in the six months to Christmas, the market was running at 85-90% capacity. He is sure that figure will rise.

With the team we’ve got in place here, and with the help of Make It York, I’m really confident we’ll get to the point within six months or a year that we have a waiting list for people every day, not just on a Saturday.

People will really want to be here because they’ve seen York market is doing really well.

11. It has to make more money

“We were given £1.6 million, but half of that we have to repay,” Charlie said.

“That works out at about £60,000 a year. A big chunk of that is going to come from the kiosks alone.”

About two-thirds will come from the rent from the seven new kiosks. “The rest will really come from getting that 85% capacity up to 100%.”

12. Rents will not change for a year

Stall rents have been held for the last two years, and the council is committed to keeping them the same for the next financial year.

13. Most Parliament Street markets are out

The farmers market and other additional markets will be taken off Parliament Street and incorporated into Shambles Market, Steve said.

We’ve got a great big market place area. What we want is when people say ‘York’ and ‘market’, the Shambles Market is what they think of.

It’s foolish to compete against ourselves by putting something nearby to draw attention away from our regular market.

14. They will go under new gazebos

Farmers and other additional markets will be housed on Shambles Market stalls specially marked for their use, and under 12 new heavy duty gazebos which have been bought for the purpose.

They will be located against the back wall of Marks and Spencer and along Silver Street.

15. The Food Fest stays on Parliament Street

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In negotiations… York Food And Drink Festival
Discussions about where the York Food And Drink Festival stalls will go are underway.

Council assistant director Charlie Croft said:

Steve [Brown, MD of Make It York] told me that he had negotiated that they would have stalls around Shambles, but they would have a row in Parliament Street as well – facing Shambles.

They would be laid out in a way that’s sympathetic to drawing people through.

16. Continental markets are out of favour

“Continental markets are fine but we’ve got a great local scene,” Steve said. “We should be promoting the local scene rather than letting somebody else come in and take the prime real estate away from our traders.”

17. But there’s no blanket ban

Steve said:

We haven’t got a blanket ban. What we’ve done is said no to things would conflict with our pre-existing retailers.

We’re just managing slightly more carefully what’s out there, what’s out on Parliament Street, what’s on St Sampson’s Square.

We’ve got some strong retailers in York and we should be supporting them rather than competing with them.

18. St Nicholas Fayre is being upgraded

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Staying put… St Nicholas Fayre. Photograph: visityork.org
Christmas market St Nicholas Fayre will stay on Parliament Street in upgraded accommodation.

There is a tender out now for new Christmas market infrastructure. “We’ve had those huts for four years. They’re now looking a bit tired,” Charlie Croft said.

19. And there are more Christmas plans

“Rather than it just being, ‘at Christmas there’s a market’ – at Christmas there’ll be other stuff,” said Steve.

“All sorts of things have been suggested. We’re looking into having a really good Santa.”

The city is in discussion with entertainment companies as part of the tender process, he said.

“I’ve spoken to people from four or five fairly big, well known companies who were interested and well known. We’ve asked them – York has got all these spaces, what would you do with it?”

20. Parliament Street will change

“We want to focus it more on interesting events rather than it just being where we plonk a market,” Steve said.

“Things like the Great Yorkshire Fringe are a big deal for us because that’s potentially a long-term commitment from an outside company who really want to be involved in York. That’s the kind of project that we’d like to maintain.”

Recently a new St Patrick’s Festival was held on Parliament Street.

That’s the kind of stuff that we want to promote. Members of our team are looking into doing something for St George’s Day.

We’ve had conversations with people about bringing in music festivals. Things like Buskival, that didn’t happen last year for various reasons – that’s an option.

21. They want to offer more for families

“It’s not just for adults with disposable income who want to come and spend – that’s fine, we’ll absolutely welcome those people – but we also want stuff in the city that’s safe for kids and families to do, we want to expand the early evening economy,” said Steve.

22. The fountain may soon be gone

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In wetter days – the Parliament Street fountain. Photograph © Rodhullandemu, via Wikimedia Commons
The Parliament Street fountain – bone dry since the plumbing upheaval which accompanied the demolition of the ‘Splash Palace’ toilet block – could soon be removed.

Charlie said councillors had given the go-ahead for it to be taken out and he was now seeking costings for doing so.

We haven’t any money to take it out from the market scheme. But potentially it might be more cost-effective to take it out because you’d get more rental throughout the Christmas period.

We’re looking at a business case to take it out.

23. Market traders were sceptical…

When the idea to renovate the market was first mooted, it was met with scepticism from stallholders and other traders, Charlie said.

“There was a lot of suspicion of what were we up to. Quite a lot of people were saying, what do you want to spend all that money for?”

24. But many have come round

“When the traders saw we were serious about including them every inch of the way in the design then people started to take us more seriously,” Charlie said.

When they were able to get involved in influencing every detail, then they got a lot keener.

What really encouraged me was when one of the traders was saying at our last meeting, ‘the council’s nearly finished the scheme, now it’s down to us if it’s going to succeed’.

25. Not everyone is happy

“I’ve had two complaint letters from the farmers market traders saying it won’t be as good,” Charlie said.

“I said, ‘come and give it a try’.”

26. But the move is permanent

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Attention to detail… a close-up of a Shambles stall
Spending £1.6 million on the market place, and taking most markets off Parliament Street, effectively ends years of speculation that York’s market might move to Parliament Street permanently.

Steve said:

Even our most vocal ‘we should stay on Parliament Street’ people over the last couple of weeks have said to me, ‘I can’t wait to get back in there – that’s our space’.

“It’s time to come home now. And reestablish it as the home for all markets within York.”