Rochdale Market, Which Has Been Open Since 1251, To Close After 768 Years

Town officials said it's not fair to taxpayers to have to subsidize the market.

vegetables for sale at an open air market
RDLH / Pixabay

Town officials said it's not fair to taxpayers to have to subsidize the market.

A public market that has been open since 1251 in the English city of Rochdale is closing after nearly eight centuries, BBC News reports. The market had been kept afloat with public funds, and the city’s government didn’t find it right to keep subsidizing it at taxpayer expense.

Rochdale, just down the road from Manchester, has been around since the 11th century. In 1251, the market obtained its charter, and the rest is, in the most literal sense, history. For centuries, buyers and sellers convened at the market to trade their wares.

Unfortunately, these days open-air markets are more of a novelty, and in many cases tourist attractions, than they are viable businesses. The changing habits of consumers as well as the emergence of chain stores and climate-controlled grocery stores doomed many of Europe’s markets, including Rochdale’s.

The Rochdale market limped along until September 2018, when the market was taken over by the Rochdale government. The city’s leaders had hoped to revitalize the market, while keeping it open at taxpayer expense. Unfortunately, that has failed to work out.

Efforts to keep the market viable, including offering space rent-free to some stallholders and allowing stallholders to run the shop, have failed to pan out.

The indoor market has managed to keep only two vendors and a small cafe. The outdoor market has, on some days, failed to attract even a single vendor, with would-be vendors saying the lack of climate control and lack of lighting turned them off. What’s more, the city has been losing £4,000 (about $4,969) per month keeping it afloat, and the city council said that’s not fair to the taxpayers.

“We’ve taken the difficult decision to close Rochdale Market & the last trading day will be Monday 14 October. We’ve tried hard to make it work, including offering traders financial support, but it continues to lose money,” the council said in a tweet.

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Debbie McGinty, who owns the cafe in the indoor portion of the market, says that she’s been given four weeks’ notice to close her business.

“We’ve worked so hard to get this cafe up and running. As a business to be told you’ve got to get out in 28 days, there’s no way it’s going to happen,” she said.

This is not the first time Rochdale has been in the news. In 2016, as reported by The Inquisitr, a violent act of terror took place in a park in the city, as an ISIS supporter beat a Muslim cleric to death as the man returned from his daily prayers.