Brownhills market: Back from the dead

Today, along with a considerable number of my fellow Brownhillians, I visited the relaunched Brownhills Market. Due to family stuff, I didn’t get there until 12pm, but it looked like it had been fairly busy – and the gridlock happening on the Tesco car park attested to this. Coming down into Pier Street from the pedestrian bridge, my heart sank when my eyes alighted on a trestle table under the trees on Pier Street – after all that was the modus operandi of the pirate DVD sellers. I was, however, pleased to note that the pitch belonged to Walsall Trading Standards. Whether erecting their stall there was a deliberately ironic gesture or a chronic lack of historical awareness I couldn’t tell, but they seemed to be doing brisk business explaining how to spot fake trainers and jeans to passers by. As this is a subject that I suspect many of the local teenagers are far better qualified in than the officers concerned, I found it quite amusing, but all power to them.

There was an impressive mingling of council officials, trading standards, reporters from the Express & Star and even a couple  of coppers at one point – one must assume they were lost and had stopped for directions. I even noted Walsall Council’s publicity officer, Dan Slee, who must be the first person in internet history to actually look like his twatter avatar, except that in real life I don’t think Dan is overly concerned that anyone might call him weedy.

The market was quite a bit smaller and occupied a more compact area than the original, and worryingly, some stalls remained vacant. It was also clear that some traders needed to get used to the new style of stall without a fixed roof, the stalls that were without a cover gave a peculiarly ‘open’ feel.  Business was quite brisk, with a steady flow of people wandering round, and there seemed to be a reasonably wide diversity of stalls – household stuff, clothes, mobile phone accessories, butchers, shoes, car accessories, food and even computer consumables. There were a couple of confectionary stalls to satisfy my craving for jelly sweets.

If the momentum can be maintained – and it’s going to require plenty of publicity and good policing, just like there was today – I think there’s every chance that the facility will grow and improve. The atmosphere was quite good, the aisles broad and airy, with a relaxed feel. If the past reputation can be conquered – and that will require plenty of plugging in the media – then there’s ample potential to restore a bit of bounce back into Brownhills. The High Street was noticeably busier today. Lets hope it continues.

Clicking on any of the photos below will open them in Panoramio.

Good to see they fixed those floodlights!
Good to see they fixed those floodlights!
The aisles are quite spacious...
The aisles are quite spacious...
I was concerned to note that some stalls were vacant.
I was concerned to note that some stalls were vacant.
Fruit and veg seemdd to be doing well.
Fruit and veg seemed to be doing well.
A steady flow of shoppers ebbed through the site...
A steady flow of shoppers ebbed through the site...
The area of the new market is quite a bit smaller.
The area of the new market is quite a bit smaller.
It was good to see some of the old favourites.
It was good to see some of the old favourites.
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4 Comments

  • Dan Slee

    Hello Bob,

    Thanks for your positive comments about the re-launched Brownhills market.

    You really, really should have wandered over to say hello. The fact that I’m 6’2″ and – as you rightly point out unconcerned about being called ‘weedy’ – is beside the point : )

    Yes, there’s been a lot of hard work put into this.

    Yes, it was great to see such a great turn out.

    Yes, it’s going to be about making this a success in the long term and not just the first day – fantastic though that was.

    And yes, it was a deliberate move to put the trading standards stall where the DVD sellers used to congregate. The message loud and clear to them and to customers is that pirate gear simply won’t be tolerated.

    We’re not interested in how others run their markets. We’re only bothered about having high standards ourselves. It’s a interesting point though you make about Brownhills markets’ past reputation and the need for positive PR. That’s duly noted.

    All in all the markets team were really chuffed with the numbers. They estimate around 4,000 people passed through. That’s something they were really pleased about.

    You rightly point out that there were a few empty stalls on the day. That’s because some who pre-paid didn’t turn up – and more fool them! Technically, all stalls were sold out. The plan is to build it slowly back up again in terms of numbers.

    Chatting to stallholders they were very enthusiastic about the return of Brownhills market. Kerry Rowlands on the meat stall was talking about how there was a queue of regulars even before he had opened up — how great is that?

    And as Cllr Adrian Andrew, the cabinet member for regeneration, was telling me it’s good to see the council do something really good that the community really, really appreciate.

    Dan Slee
    Walsall Council press office

     
    Reply
  • I have very fond memories of Brownhills Market, as a child in the early 80’s a trip to the market was like an adventure. The flag that used to fly with the ghost on it -a little research reveals that this was the flag of “spook erections” I wouldn’t have got this at the time – added further to the appeal.

    In recent years when I have visited the market, dragged to Tesco by my wife rather than dragged shopping by my parents I’ve found the state of it depressing.

    I don’t live in Brownhills, I never have but the market was what brought me there and I do hope that the new relaunched market can grow to be what it once was.

    If I get separated from my wife there now I don’t think I’ll need to the man in the lost children van to announce my name over the tannoy.

     
    Reply
  • peter taylor

    last time i went to brownhills market was 30 years ago. thought i would pop and see the market. sad just vacant stalls. i was a stall holder in the early days of the market . spook the market operators were good at running markets and when they lost the lease and the council took over running it , brownhills lost its market .many of the stall holders worked on other spook markets on other days of the week. so spook were good at getting new traders to stand at different markets there by keeping markets alive . sad day. sat 3rd july 2010.

     
    Reply
  1. A belief in the market « BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog  November 7, 2010

    […] Council first tried to resurrect the event, it was clear from the outset that it was doomed; the pitches were dead, the layout was poor and the public showed little interest. I struggled to get behind the thing, but it was clear that it would take organisers who believed […]

     

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