Set in the heart of Newcastle’s city centre, the grade 1 listed building is home to 111 small independent businesses. From handcrafted goods to locally sourced produce, the Grainger market boasts a wide range of shops that make for a unique shopping experience.
With Christmas looming, it can often be convenient to head to large well known department stores often forgetting about smaller businesses nearby. Newcastle wanted to highlight the array of small businesses in the North East and did just that by throwing a festive filled night at the traditional market.
The market was transformed for the night with businesses staying open later than usual. The arcade was brought to life with fairy lights, live music, dancing and tours whilst the aisles were happy with shoppers sampling produce.
Air raid shelter tour
Unknown to many, there is an air raid shelter below the market which I was lucky enough to take a tour of. For years I must have walked past the hatch never noticing it let alone knowing that it led to an air raid shelter! We were taken down in groups of about 15 by an elderly city tour guide who was very interesting and had a lot of knowledge about the air raid shelter.
I’d imagined the shelter to be a rectangular space but soon discovered that it was actually a network of passages that branched off in different directions. With dim lighting and vintage props lining the wooden benches it was easy to imagine what it would have been like during the war; however, we learnt that it never actually needed to be used. It would be great if the air raid shelter was open more often to the public as it created a lot of interest on the night.
After seeing the market from below, it was then time to see it from above. We were taken up to the balcony which was once a cafe and were told about the history of the market. It was intriguing to learn that newly weds would pass through the market to get the attention of others and that the aisles were deliberately made wide to accommodate the ladies wide dresses. The view from the balcony was great and it was lovely to see the arcade bustling with people, there was a great atmosphere.
Although the market houses a lot of traditional shops such as fishmongers, butchers and fruiterers, the last few years has seen a new mix of retailers join the market attracting a new and perhaps younger audience. It was brilliant to see the market transformed for the night with so many people enjoying the friendly and personal service of the traders. I definitely think a similar event should be held again next year to support the smaller businesses that really value shoppers, students and tourists custom. Why wait until Christmas!?
The Grainger market will be opening on Sundays throughout December.