As the weather improves, shoppers turn to markets for some retail therapy rather than stay stuck indoors. The UK has a lengthy history of markets; here are some of the best
The largest street market in south-east England, Romford Market also has a history that stretches back for more than 750 years. It began as a sheep market, after Henry III gave instructions that the town was to have a market every Wednesday. A 13th century rule that no other market can be set up within a day’s sheep drive (about six miles) from Romford still exists today. For those travelling other than on foot these days, Romford Market is easily accessible by road, rail and bus, and there are 5,000 car parking spaces nearby. Coach operators should telephone to get details of coach parking, a customer drop-off area and driver incentives such as complimentary refreshments and snack vouchers.
No visitors will find themselves stuck for a bite to eat, as there is a great choice of cafes, bakeries, pubs and restaurants running alongside the shops the whole length of the market. A dedicated food court is shortly to open, featuring delicacies from around the world, including Indian, Caribbean, Cuban, Mexican, Lithuanian, Vietnamese and Singaporean delights.
Romford Market is in the heart of the town centre and has more than 150 regular stalls three times a week: Wednesdays and Fridays from 8.30am to 4.30pm and Saturdays from 8.30am to 5pm. The stalls offer a very diverse range of goods including fresh meat and fish, fruit and veg, the latest fashions, mobile phone accessories and household goods. As well as the wide array of shopping opportunities, the market has family events, entertainment and children’s rides throughout the year, especially during the summer. Havering Museum and all main high street stores are nearby, as Romford has no less than four main shopping centres.
T: 01708 434113
This outlet offers an outstanding mix of high street and designer labels at up to 70% off recommended retail prices, with plenty of restaurants and cafes. For the summer months, however, a visit should definitely be timed to coincide with Gloucester Quays’ monthly food market. Located at Gloucester’s historic docks, the market is held on the first weekend of every month from 10am on Saturdays and 11am on Sundays. It attracts great numbers of award-winning food and drink producers who provide goods all made from local, seasonal produce. Visitors will be introduced to a whole new world of flavours and a feast for all the senses, as the food and drink artisans offer up the very best available.
In addition to the treats for foodies, high quality arts and crafts are available from many of the stalls, including items such as handmade jewellery, unique homewares and accessories and one-off artwork. Shoppers can browse, crafters can gather inspiration, foodies can indulge and sightseers can meander the byways of the docks and take in the great atmosphere. The market attracts people of all ages and is a great family day out.
Gloucester Quays is also currently undertaking construction work on The Quayside – a new £60m leisure quarter due to be completed towards the end of 2013. The Quayside will be an exciting new place for eating, drinking and entertainment and is going to include a state-of-the-art ten screen cinema complex, up to 11 new restaurants and bars, and a health and ﬁtness centre.
T: 01452 338933
BOUNDARY MILL STORES
Ok, so it’s not strictly a market, but the extensive range of goods inside can make it feel like one. With as much browsing potential as any outdoor market, Boundary Mill Stores is the UK’s largest quality mill store and is packed with brand name fashion and home goods, all at up to 75% off the recommended retail price. Their flagship store is situated at the end of the M65 at Colne and the chain opened their fifth store in Sheffield last year. All the locations feature a B.B.’s Coffee Shop, which provides a great selection of freshly prepared savouries and sweets, and can comfortably accommodate groups.
Boundary Mill is not just geared up for groups in terms of catering however. All the centres have a dedicated Coach Co-ordinator and offer a ‘meet and greet’ service, designed to provide all necessary information about the facilities and to ensure a smooth visit. GTOs should contact the Coach Co-ordinator at the relevant store prior to trips, as the co-ordinators will also be able to help with any special requests or requirements that a group might have. There is free coach parking available and as an incentive, if a group visits for a minimum of two hours with over 20 passengers, Boundary Mill Stores will give the driver £10 cash and a £10 gift voucher to the group leader.
The summer sale begins on June 4th and continues for the remainder of the month. Various events and promotions will be held throughout the rest of 2013, culminating in late night Christmas shopping and of course the January sales. As a proud member of the Coach Tourism Council, Boundary Mill Stores is a featured visitor attraction on their website.
In recent years, Bury Market has won many awards including ‘Market of the Year’ in 2006, 2009 and 2012 and ‘Most Coach-Friendly Shopping Attraction’ at the UK Coach Awards in 2012. Located at the heart of Bury town centre, this market is one of the most popular shopping destinations in the region, attracting 1,500 coaches each year. Bury Market works hard to make things as easy and hassle-free as possible for visitors, with brown tourist signs indicating the route from junction two of the M66 on the borders of Lancashire and Greater Manchester. Once coaches have arrived, there is free parking, excellent facilities, and a £5 lunch voucher for the coach driver, which can be redeemed at six cafes on the market.
Bury Market is especially suitable for visitors with disabilities, since it is all on one level and there are disabled facilities available centrally in the modern market hall. The 370 stalls are mainly under cover, so groups are guaranteed a great day no matter what the weather. Goods on offer include everything from day-to-day necessities to luxuries and treats; food and drink (with an emphasis on local produce), clothing, crafts and books are just some of the things available.
For those who tire of shopping, the town also has plenty of other sights and attractions to please any sort of visitor. The East Lancashire Railway, Fusilier Museum, MET Theatre and Bury’s Art Gallery are all nearby.
GTOs should get in touch to receive free leaflets and a DVD of the market, showcasing everything that a group can expect from their visit.
T: 0161 2536520