Recent History of Penistone's Markets

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The Market in Market Street
SheepPenistone's livestock market has been important in the area for several centuries. Through the efforts of Godfrey Bosville, Penistone was granted a royal charter in 1699 for a market and a fair. The market was soon forced to move from Tuesday to Thursday after complaints from other markets in the area. The livestock market was always held on a Thursday after that until its demise.

Cattle and sheep fairs are recorded in the West Riding Directory of 1837, which says: 'The Fairs are held on the Thursday before Feb 28th, the last Thursday in March, and May 12th for cattle; and Thursday before October 10th, for sheep'. It is not clear now what was meant by 'The Fairs'.

According to old photographs, the livestock market was held openly in Market Street, outside the church and near the Spread Eagle on Market Street. This continued even after proper stalls were built in 1910 (to meet stronger Government regulations), in a new market place just off Market Street. Farmers were slow to adopt the new market. See the History Timeline for market entries.

The 1953 Penistone Almanac says:
'The enclosed market, constructed to meet the requirements of the Order of Agriculture and Fisheries of June 1903, was opened Nov. 24th, 1910. The covered shedding was considerably increased and the market improved and enlarged in 1933.' It continues: 'Considerable alterations, including a covered market, were made in 1951, to meet the Ministry's order.'

Cattle Diseases
The livestock market continued through thick and thin, with many a set-back. It had to shut down for most of 2001 as a precaution against the BSE epidemic.and there were fears that it would take a long time to recover. It is interesting how the BSE epidemic came about.

During Mrs Thatcher's term of office as Prime Minister, the prevailing ideology was that 'regulations are strangling industry'. Animal feed companies made the case that regulations about recovering meat from animal carcases at prolonged high temperatures was too expensive and they wanted the regulations removed. As a former science minister and one of the few MPs to hold a science degree, it was surprising that Mrs T acceded to their wishes. BSE ensued soon after de-regulation.

It might reasonably be argued that de-regulating the purification process led directly to BSE, especially as these animal by-products were actually being fed to vegetarian cattle. The same people who (it is alleged) caused the epidemic were the ones to later make money out of destroying the diseased animals. A sort of win-win situation.

Foot and Mouth Disease made its return soon afterwards and devastated the farming world again. It had last visited Penistone in the mid-1960s. Disinfectant pads were once again provided for feet and wheels on farms and markets. These were usually pieces of carpet soaked in disinfectant. As the Back Lane area was also a public access route, a new sign went up on the livestock market area. It read: 'All footwear must be disinfected on entry and exit. Keep to the wall side and within the barriers.'

The End of the Livestock Market
Examiner articleThe livestock market never recovered properly and its demise became part of the redevelopment scheme for Penistone. Barnsley Council (BMBC) had pushed through its closure, in private, to make way for a 'Food Supermarket', car park and general improvements to the area. Meanwhile the Co-operative Society were calling 'foul' as they claimed that their own plans for a new supermarket in Penistone had not been considered, after what they thought was an agreement by BMBC to do so.

The fur-and-feather auction market continued for a year or two afterwards but also closed for the new development. Auctioneers appealed that about £50,000 would have been enough to bring facilities up to standard but the auction's fate had been decided. The scan, right, from 2003 explains the mood at the time. It was used here with the kind permission of Huddersfield Examiner.

BMBC claimed that they could not raise £50k needed to keep it going. This caused bad feeling in the community after BMBC had donated £3m to Barnsley FC and a further £9m on consultants planning to convert Barnsley town centre into something resembling a Tuscan village, with a light halo over Barnsley. The auctioneers were very riled.

The early Supermarket plans had made provision for a fur-and-feather auction room but that was quietly dropped in amendments. Meanwhile the fur-and-feather trade became established in Holmfirth and thrived. Indirectly, the fur-and-feather trade had its revenge. Their auction building had been an effective wind-break for the retail market. With its demolition, the new open-sided Market Barn became exposed to howling winds from across the fields. See the Market page for details of the new retail market area.

The rare picture below was used in many old Penistone Almanacs and The Don Press gave special permission to use this scan from the original. This picture was taken around 1890 and shows cattle being paraded in the street outside the church wall, by the old School just before it was demolished. That corner is now occupied by J&B Antiques (formerly Robinson's News). Also shown below is a close-up from the same picture.

1890 by the churchClose-up of 1890 picture

Now we move into the twentieth century. The picture below-left is an aerial view of the enclosed livestock market area and you can see that the retail market had not yet moved there. The picture must have been taken between 1910 and 1933, before it had a covering. Next is a view of the cattle market in the 1960s (one of Josie's pictures) and a close-up view from the same picture.

Market aerial viewCattle MarketClose-up

Penistone Retail Market
How many people remember the old retail market on the 'Spar' supermarket site, opposite Cafe Creme? It had a low stone wall and two long rows of stalls on rough ground, with corrugated iron roofing. The stalls were made of substantial wood and were a great unofficial play area for children. The new site near the livestock market was built for it in the nineteen-sixties, roughly where the Market Barn is now.

My thanks Josie of Penistone Co-op for this set of pictures. The first one is an enlarged fragment from the second. It shows the Globe Tea Company shop, now the entrance to Clark's Chemists. See the Globe Tea Company's page. Clarks used to have its entrance in the middle arch opposite HSBC (the Midland Bank in those days). Notice the sign just beyond the Globe shop. It marks the way to the old British Legion club, down the ginnel.

The second picture is a long view of Market/High Street with the old market just visible at the far end. Picture three is another fragment from the long view and shows the market stalls from a distance. The RD Woodcock sign below is another small feature from the second picture and it is 'not clickable'. Risden Woodcock was the owner of a popular hardware and DIY store. If he didn't have what you wanted, the goods would always be "Coming in next week".

GlobeMarket Street in the 60sClose-up
WoodcockThe old retail market

Now you can see the market properly, with the Co-operative store to its left and familiar High Street shops behind. It now looks odd to not see a Spar there. At the far end of the street is 'JT Smiths & Son' furniture shop. The shop by the parked car would have been Charlesworth's clothes shop, where school uniforms were for sale. To its right was Clay's sweets and tobacco. Next was Raymond Smith's electricals shop with radio and tv. That looks like a washing machine in the window. Ray was also a well-known radio amateur. He died around 2001. To the right of his shop was the sweet shop. The sign says 'LEE' but it was later taken over by another Smith family. These two shops were later combined to became 'GT News' and from 2013 became Penistone Post Office and newsagents.

In the 2000s
The next set of pictures show the market area before demolitions started in 2010 for the new supermarket development. Traders' toilets were added in the early 90s. the first and second 'lofty views' were taken from the old Fire Station tower. The second picture shows the houses in Park Avenue. The disastrous BSE epidemic caused farming and related businesses in the UK to suffer greatly, then the foot-and-mouth epidemic came along and put yet more strain on the already stretched resources of farmers. The sign in the third pic is a legacy from the foot-and-mouth cattle epidemic of 2001.

Retail Marketlivestock marketAugust 2002
Saturday Morning
Thursday MarketThursday
Sheep25 August 2001

Below-left on the middle row is the excellent Saturday morning fruit and veg market, which comes here in all weathers. They always have good, fresh and cheap fruit and vegetables and there's never any need for a fridge in Penistone. These fellows were pleased to see themselves on this page but the fine old chap died in 2007. The business continues to this day with other members of the family. They also have a shop in Hoyland. Other pictures show the busy retail market. Pictures on the third row show the livestock market with rustic characters at auctions in the mid-naughties.

The panoramic view below is of the retail market on a cold winter's day in December 2009, prior to its destruction. Click on it for a lot of detail and put your nose close to the screen to get the perspective. This has all gone now and a Market Barn has been constructed. The new supermarket was been built on the old shingled area near the Showground.

Wide view of Retail Market 2009

See the Market page to see how this area changed in recent times and more about the oaken barn. The new market place opened in 2011 but there were problems with high winds and poor lighting at the beginning, leading to some sheepishness by officials.

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