Page 27 - Market Times June 2021
P. 27

FEATURE • STOCKTON 27
Once a gritty industrial port town on the River Tees, Stockton is set for a £100 million pound transformation. And the market, known famously as The Queen of the North, is at the heart and soul of the regeneration. Nicola Gould pays a visit
  There may be young pretenders, but there is only one, true Queen of the North.
And that, according to Coun Nigel Cooke, the man heading a £100 million redevelopment of Stockton-on-Tees town centre, is Stockton Market, which has taken pride of place in its wide High Street for more than 700 years.
And he should know, having worked on the market as a young boy.
“It was gas lights in those days. There were lots of coaching inns open all afternoon on Wednesdays and as young boys we would get to the market at 5 am and ask: “Hey mister, can I help you set up your stall?” he said.
More often than not young Nigel was
allowed to help out on one of the many fruit and veg stalls and was given a few shillings for his trouble by a trader who had been coining it in all day.
Dating back to a charter granted in 1310, Stockton has always boasted a bustling market serving a town which has been an industrial powerhouse in its time.
There was iron and steel, ship building, a port, and up until relatively recently, a big ICI plant. Plenty of locals had money in their pockets to spend on their market which was such a success it became known as The Queen of the North.
The big industrial plants have been replaced by service industry and university employers, but the market has retained its place at the heart and hub of
the town, according to Richard Beddard, the council’s markets and town centre cleansing manager.
Richard has overseen the development of the market over the past nine years and is currently launching a major consultation exercise to ask market traders and other stakeholders for their views on how they can best thrive as part of the multi-million pound regeneration scheme soon to take shape.
Specifically, traders may want the market to move to the northern end of the High Street which is where a more compact new retail heart of the town centre will be located.
Richard said: “The market used to run along the centre of the High Street with
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