Grainger Market 180 years old!

The Grainger Market today 

The Grainger market is celebrating its 180th birthday. It was built to replace an open air butcher’s market and is one of the few remaining 19th century buildings still trading as a covered market in the UK. The original timber roof was lost in a fire and the present steel girdered roof reminiscent of a railway station dates from 1901.
The perfect antidote to the ‘clone’ towns of our modern high streets, the Grainger Market is Newcastle’s largest traditional market.  With its fourteen (yes fourteen!) modest entrances, it sits in an elegant, classically styled building in Grainger Street near Grey’s Monument right in the middle of the city centre. The Grainger Market does not announce itself with any fanfare and you could glide right by it into the swanky new shopping Mall but if you did you would be missing a treat.

The DIVORCE pie is unique!

When it first opened the market sold mainly meat and vegetables but there is a much more eclectic mix of goods on sale there now.  From Oyster bars to Turkish street food to designer Doc Martin boots, each stall has its own particular character. Hidden within is the unique “Marks and Spencer Original Penny Bazaar”, the world’s smallest Marks and Spencer store.
I was there early Saturday morning and witnessed a bargain hunter’s flurry when pairs of M&S shoes were put out at £5 a pair. And yes, unable to resist a challenge (or shoes of any description) I plunged into the melee and bought two pairs
M&S Melee

The Grainger Market opened in 1835 with a ceremony attended by over 2,000 people, it was the largest ever built, and at the time the Evening Chronicle described it as ‘the most beautiful market in the world.’ It was built by Richard Grainger and architect John Dobson who were responsible for most of Newcastle’s impressive Georgian buildings. It has a grid-iron pattern with ‘alleys’ for navigation purposes. There are some surprises in the Grainger market too, it’s not all two punnets for a pound stuff.


          Alley No 1

What about global warming?

FORGET your trendy oyster bars in London – with their accompanying eye-watering prices. The in place to go for shucking oysters and devouring the delicacies, street food-style, is Lindsay’s To Go.

This very cool oyster bar sells a wide range of hot, cooked fish products, grilled, oven-cooked and pan-fried, alongside oyster and shellfish offerings. All of which can be consumed, standing up, at the counter.

Going all continental?

Dare you eat an oyster?
I can recommend the chilli crab noodles whipped up by the Portuguese chef and of course, the Craster kipper in a bun.
The weigh house is one of the market’s original features and was originally built to weigh hunks of meat. You could say it’s still used for that today, as it now a people weighing emporium. Shoppers can step on the giant scales and get an accurate reading of their own weight for the princely sum of 30p (it’s gone up recently – it was 20p) Your weight is scribbled down by the weigh house attendant and slipped confidentially to you written by hand, on what looks a bit like a small bus ticket. It is still extremely popular with local folk and is a lot cheaper than joining Weight Watchers. I still have my weigh house tickets going back for years which I use to remind myself that I used to be a lot thinner and to spur me on in the constant war against the lard. 
How fat are you today?

Fosters is one stall which has been there for over 35 years and is the only place left selling tripe in Newcastle today. Apparently tripe is still popular with older people who eat it boiled in milk with onions, while younger offal oficianados enjoy it as it is (it is sold cooked) with just a smattering of vinegar. This famous North of England dish is a sheep’s stomach too far for yours truly. I was, however very interested in Foster’s range of bespoke pies which they custom make with any name or event required spelled out on the top in pastry. The DIVORCE pie has got to be a unique product in anyone’s book.

Anyone for a cow’s heel?

The Grainger Market has survived fires, two world wars and threatened demolition, and has been restored to its former glory in the past decade as part of the Grainger Town Heritage project . The market still even has an air raid shelter underneath the length of the arcade. Always useful to know.
Now exactly 180 years old, it was an ordinary place which is now so rare it has become extraordinary. Happy Birthday Grainger Market!

One comment

  1. those pies are the best. i bought a persoalised pie for my husbands anniversary it was very tasty..

Comments are closed.