Page 6 - MarketTimesApril2016
P. 6

Blackheath Market in the Black Country has gone from strength to strength ever since a consortium of traders snatched it from the grasp of developers at an auction sale 38 years ago. NICOLA GOULD visits a market where the traders run the show
An auctioneer’s gavel sealed the fate of a Black Country market back in 1978. And that brave and far-sighted decision by a group of traders to buy their market when its future was under threat has paid dividends in more ways than one.
when Mr Lloyd got to retirement age he decided to sell up, and there was a good chance that developers would get their hands on the market and would close it down to make way for some new development.”
The traders put their heads together and decided to pool their resources and try to buy the market. They got a banking arrangement in place and Tony was designated to go to the auction to bid.
“It was very nerve-wracking,” Tony admits. “It was a company called Scriven & Co and I had a few anxious moments as the bidding went on.” But luck was on their side and when the gavel came down the market belonged to its traders.
No one will say exactly how much they paid, but, being market traders, you can be sure they snapped it up at a good price.
Eventually other traders bought shares in the business, Blackheath (Midlands) Trading Ltd, and it is now owned and run by the families of those original stakeholders.
Although now retired, Tony is chairman of the board and was brought out of retirement in 1998 when the board wanted to invest in extending the market by covering the outdoor market to create a single indoor space.
Blackheath Market began life as a small outdoor market in between two shops before the turn of the 19th century.
A covered market was built in 1912 with an outdoor market behind This space was cleared of stalls for a few days the next year to stage Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Circus.
There were horses, teepees and fires and it was the talk of the town years, apparently.
Tony Bonser, aged 80, who has passed on his homeware stall to his son, Mark, remembers an old gentleman telling him about the day Buffalo Bill came to town.
And he also remembers the good old days when Blackheath market was packed to the gills with shoppers before supermarkets moved in. The truth is that market days in Blackheath are still pretty good and
it. for
everyone agrees it is because traders own and run their market.
Tony said: “The market was originally owned by Lloyds Estates, but
Mark Bonser runs the family hardware and household goods stall on Blackheath market. He is on the board of directors that runs the market and his father Tony successfully bid for the market on behalf of the traders when it was sold at auction in 1978

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