The Official Opening of Penistone Market Place

Penistone Pictorial banner

The Market 'Cruck Barn'
Penistone's new market place completed the process of re-developing Penistone Town Centre. We had lost our historic livestock market, the fur & feather building and Penistone Fire Station (moved down the road) and acquired a new food supermarket with large car park. Then the Cruck Barn was built as a covered marketplace and as a focal point for community activities. It was an important milestone in our Market Town's history. The rickety old market place was removed and a completely new and majestic building replaced it (pictures by kind permission of, and thanks to, Sam Voaden of Carpenter Oak.)

Market BarnMarket barn

The oaken 'Cruck Barn' structure was expensive and a long time in gestation. It was also built in very poor winter conditions. There were problems from the start which led to bad publicity. Traders and shoppers found the place intolerable, with dim lighting and high winds sweeping across the fields, through the open sides. Any Penistonian could have predicted it. Our climate is the thing of legends. BMBC decision-makers and their local lick-spittles didn't have a clue. As a major railway junction in days gone by, Penistone Station was renowned as the bleakest and windiest in the country.

The local council was stung by harsh words in the media about short-comings in the structure and 'selling us out to Tesco'. Regional and national newspapers poked fun. Local adsheet 'Look Local' had the headline: Penistone Market 'too windy' (4th Aug 2011), similar to the BBC page of 29th July 2011. It reported that Dr Anne Gosse of Barnsley Council was looking to 'rectify the problem' and remedial work might be completed in late 2011.

The wind problem was intolerable to traders and public. Goods were damaged by wind and rain, with stalls being blown over, greetings cards ruined and eggs smashed. The traders were cold and miserable, having to stand for hours at a time in bleak conditions. The market traders formed a federation to press home their complaints which had been largely ignored up to that time. They were not happy. The council wanted to limit the damage to their reputations.

Carpenter Oak
This impressive and award-winning building was designed and built by Carpenter Oak of Devon. They were asked to build it a certain way and delivered what they had been asked for. Before the market barn idea had been thought of, the original plans showed the market place as an open area constrained by walls. The original plans had hedges and trees and these would provide some protection from the wind. They were deleted by the suits. As regards the lighting problems, Carpenter Oak had from the start suggested how to illuminate the building based on their long experience - but, as always, others 'knew better'.

Official Opening
The civic occasion of Penistone market barn's official opening marked a historical point on Penistone's timeline. In effect, it was the last act in Penistone Town Centre's redevelopment. After the turmoil and high hopes, councillors marked the official opening of the Market Barn, 1pm on Thursday 21st July 2011. It had been originally planned for October 2010. There were short and worthy speeches from the mayors of Penistone and Barnsley and they cut the red ribbon. A small collection of councillors, two carpenters and a few others applauded at the right moments but the market traders and public had been noticeably side-lined. It was almost a private event.

No matter how long it had been planned, very few people had been let in on the secret. Market traders said that they were snubbed by dignitaries, who huddled into a little tent after the opening. Traders later discussed in the media what problems they had suffered and compared the new market-place with the old one, where they could spread out and sell more goods.

A News Blackout
MugThese pictures below were entirely opportunistic as there was a news blackout which included the council noticeboard and 'Community' radio station Penistone FM. The councillors were afraid that the media (who were listening?) might attend and embarrass them. That was the official line as laid down by the ill-defined 'Markets Team'. I complained about Penistone FM's news blackout (see PFM Community page).

You can read on that page how Penistone FM had spurned the public good and complied with the wishes of the 'Market Team'. You might also ponder why that 'team' represented the sensitivities of councillors rather than the market traders, who might have preferred it to be a notable event to bring in the shoppers.

A year later, with its glass panels and other improvements, the Market Barn was now being successfully employed for public events, such as the Folk Festival, and the public and traders had grown to like it. It was no longer an embarrassment but councillors were still cowering in the shadows and refused to commemorate the anniversary of the Grand Opening.

The first picture below shows Barnsley mayor Cllr Karen Dyson standing proudly in her chains of office and beaming pleasantly, next to Cllr Ann Rusby (famous for her Werther's Originals). The second picture shows Penistone's mayor of the day Cllr Steve Webber (and Penistone FM presenter) also proudly wearing his chains of office with his wife Lynette smiling radiantly beside him, in a nice shade of blue. The other lady making a point is not known.

Market Barn OpeningMarket Barn OpeningMarket Barn OpeningMarket Barn Opening
Market Barn OpeningMarket Barn OpeningMarket Barn OpeningMarket Barn Opening

Watching the occasion were Barnsley Chronicle reporter Katia Harston (with photographer), former mayor Carol Bradbury and people wearing Tesco badges. Katia Harston is in the third picture, wearing glasses and a rivet in her lip. In the fourth picture, the red ribbon is being cut by the two mayors, flanked by their spouses. Lynette is almost off the picture (apologies for that) and the smart fellow on the right is Cllr Karen's husband Daniel Dyson.

On the second row of pictures, we see the eminent figures of Cllr Paul Hand-Davis, Cllr John Wilson. In the last picture, Cllr Andrew Millner (also a Penistone FM presenter) completes the line-up. Watching on were former Penistone mayors: Brenda and Roger Hinchliffe. Not shown here were the Lead Carpenter Mick Danbridge and Adam Milton of Carpenter Oak. After the ceremony, the councillors, dignitaries and others discreetly retired to a small tent at a safe distance from stallholders and public for refreshments and to dissolve into the shadows.

After it was originally declared 'not fit for purpose' and all of the bad publicity, significant improvements were made in 2012. Glass panes were fitted to the sides and netting near the apex on the Co-op side to block the wind. It worked! The next problem was pigeons. Someone wryly said that they would need to be evicted before the 2012 Royal Diamond Jubilee 'street party' or people would suspect the mayonnaise. Pigeons are not noticeable now but the building has become an evening magnet for aimless youths, looking for things to damage. One of them put through a window but was later caught and punished.

Now the structure is useful and the market traders can smile again. As a test, on a very gusty day in June 2012, the glass panels blocked nearly all of the wind. There is now a set of doors at the Tesco car park side (July 2012) but it is still cold and windy at that corner, as the door closing mechanism does not work.

The Market Barn has so far been used for two Folk Concerts, Brass Band Easter Service, Christmas Carols, Artisan Fayres, a 'Street Party' for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, a Family Fun Day and other community events, with more to come. It is certainly now 'fit for purpose' and something that Penistone people can enjoy and be proud of. One day soon the councillors will catch up with the public.

See the Market Area page for pictures during construction and PFM Community page for the news blackout. Visit the Carpenter Oak website and especially their Penistone page.

Top Home Winston Churchill: 'An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.'