Grainger Market – a two hundred year old tradition
The Grainger market is 188 years old! 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. The present steel girdered roof reminiscent of a railway station, dates from 1901 as the original timber one perished in a fire.
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. A stone’s throw from Grey’s Monument right in the middle of the city centre. The Grainger Market does not announce itself with any fanfare and you could walk right by it if you didn’t know what treasures were inside.
Grainger Market – from street food to staples
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.
A specialist seafood selection is a welcome addition. There are the numerous street food options. French, Chinese Indian Greek and Turkish food abound. You can still buy a classic British pie though.
The M&S Penny Bazaar
Hidden within is the unique “Marks and Spencer Original Penny Bazaar”, the world’s smallest Marks and Spencer store. It opened in 1895, and is the last surviving example of the Penny Bazaar shops that gave birth to a legend in retailing.
The Grainger Market opened in 1835 with a ceremony attended by over 2,000 people. The largest indoor market ever built at the time, the Evening Chronicle described it as ‘the most beautiful market in the world.’
It was built by Richard Grainger and designed by 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.
The Weigh House
The Weigh House was used in the 19th century by stall holders and buyers to check the weight of their purchases. This was once a legal requirement for all markets. The Weighhouse is in Alley No 1 of the Grainger Market.
The weigh house contains one huge set of scales. For a small fee, customers can stand on them and are issued with a small bus type ticket stating their weight. An accurate and confidential service is guaranteed. The Weighhouse is very popular with slimmers in the city with many customers coming back each week to keep a record of their weight. It costs the princely sum of 50p. (It used to be 10p!) It’s still cheaper than Slimming World though, and the Weighhouse is a real hub of the market.
Street Food at the Grainger Market
Forget your trendy oyster bars in London – with their accompanying eye-watering prices. The in place to go for shucking oysters and fishy delicacies, street food-style, is Lindsay’s To Go.
Grainger market – fresh food
The only place left selling tripe in Newcastle today is Fosters the butchers. Their stall has been in the market for 35 years! Apparently tripe is still popular with older people who eat it boiled in milk with onions. Younger offal aficianados enjoy it as it is. It is sold cooked and is eaten with just a smattering of vinegar.
This famous North of England dish is a sheep’s stomach too far for me. Foster’s range of bespoke pies are of particular interest. They custom make them 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. It is now restored to its former glory. This has taken place over 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.
The market has managed to introduce higher-end, more diverse uses. It has attracted new people and done that without scaring away all the people who look to go in for their chunk of meat or fruit and veg. It’s a great hatchery for new businesses too. What’s lovely about it now is that it works as a whole.
In 2020 the Grainger Market was voted Britain’s favourite market in the Great British Market awards. Get down there now for a bit of a shop!