Page 15 - Market Times February 2014
P. 15

 Simply the best?
Bath’s historic Guildhall market is a magnet for locals and tourists alike. Major redevelopment plans for the area are raising concerns among traders, but the council believes they will increase footfall and enhance market trading. NICOLA GOULD reports
Beneath the elegant Grade II listed dome of Bath Guildhall Market, there is a pervasive air of positivity.
“This must be one of the best markets in the country,” says Wendy Watts, who runs a fancy dress business.
Her husband, Mike, who runs a card and gift stall and also owns one of the two market cafes, said: “The market has never been better, it’s a superb mix of businesses.”
There is harmony and common purpose among the traders and the market management. The people of Bath are loyal and value their
market, and it is a firm fixture on the Bath tourist trail, he says.
And Karen McStravick, estates technician with Bath and North East Somerset Council, who has managed the market for the past 12 years, said: “The market has been full for the past three years.”
She says the council recognises it is a big asset to the city and there has been plenty of investment in recent years, as you would expect for a Grade II building in a Georgian city world famous for its architecture and history.
A new floor and refurbished lighting were
relatively recent improvements, and there is an ongoing programme of maintenance and enhancement.
It is hard to find anyone who isn’t positive about the market, yet it has suffered a double whammy in the last couple of years, which has affected footfall.
The re-routing of buses because of structural problems affecting the world famous Pulteney Bridge was a big blow.
“Buses used to stop outside the market every six minutes, and 95 per cent of people who got off walked through the market into the centre of Bath,” Mike said.
Another setback was the relocation of council staff from a building near the market, which took away a lot of regular shoppers.
Meanwhile plans are in the pipeline for a major redevelopment of the Colonnades and the Guildhall area.
So what does the future hold? And why are Bath Guildhall market traders so upbeat?
Part of their optimism may be based on the history and tradition of market trading in Bath. The market story goes back more than 900
years and it is thought there has been continuous market trading on the Guildhall site for those nine centuries.
The magnificent Guildhall came into being in the 1770s and its equally impressive dome was built in 1863.
One of the historic stone nails, where merchants would seal deals ‘on the nail’, still stands in the market as testimony to the tradition of commerce and trade.
Karen McStravick is an estates technician with Bath and North East Somerset Council and has been responsible for the market for the past 12 years
 Pulteney Bridge
  The Nail
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