'Stick with us during market revamp' say Doncaster market traders

Market trader Gareth Jones on his stall
Market trader Gareth Jones on his stall

Traders in Doncaster's landmark Woolmarket are urging the public to back them throughout major disruption.

Doncaster Council has revealed plans for a transformation of the listed building as part of a £3 million proposal to remodel the market to allow it to open into the evening and host entertainment.

The proposals would mean that the traders who are currently based in the building would have to relocate in the short term, and possibly in the long term.

Stallholders currently in the building say they have been told the most likely option available to them would be that they would be moved from their current base into units into other covered sections of the market, such as the Corn Exchange, which is currently surrounded by scaffolding while improvement work to the landmark building is carried out, or the Goose Hill market.

They have been told they will have to be out of their current stalls by the middle of December, and will have to re-apply for their pitches. They understand some may have to permanently relocate.

Gareth Jones, who has run his Toys-u-Ad stall for nearly 20 years from the Woolmarket, said: "I would urge people to stick with us when they move us.

"The positive thing is that when it's finally done it will look gorgeous if it's set up the way they want it. I would definitely stay here. I would look to come back to the Wool Market but I think they may want to be going for a different style. I can get 500 people a day here. But some of us are a bit scruffy and I'm not sure that is what they're wanting.

"It's going to be a difficult transition but I'd urge shoppers to stick with us as we will still be trading."

He said he was disappointed the plans had not included a children's play area near the market for parents to take their children before shopping, which some traders had suggested. He is epxected the scheme to have an etnertainments area inside from what he has heard.

But he added it was difficult for the council to please everyone. He said: "We are independent traders and as such we're all very different, and they can't pigeonhole us."

Jason Barker of Barker's Carpet Corner also urged traders to stick with them.

He said he was not happy with the new plans, although he was pleased the car park would be extended to be close to the wood market.

He does not yet know where he will be moved to. He currently has six units in the Woolmarket and is concerned how he will fit them in elsewhere.

He said: "They are going to have talks about where we can go. But I'm not happy that long standing stallholders are gong to have to re-apply for their old locations. There should be more loyalty to us"

Adrian Hurley, of Adrian's Pets, is also unhappy about the plans because they create uncertainty.

He is expecting the council to talk to him about where he may be relocated to in the next two weeks

He said: "The plans look nice but I don't know if they are practical. I'm not sure it people in Doncaster want to burritos and tapas they seem to be proposing. I'm Doncaster born and bred so I hope it works. But this creates uncertainty for us and makes it hard to plan for stock."

Council officials aim to transform the market area into a vibrant and bustling location all week long and into the evenings. They say recent research indicated residents and visitors to the borough backed the plans and would recommend the markets to their friends and family.

They believe the renovated Wool Market will become an attractive and welcoming destination providing a new and enhanced offer to retail traders and customers. The makeover would enable the market to host more events, encouraging more people into the area.

Discussions have been held with the current market traders. Details are not finalised.

One Doncaster business which will not be opening late is Gill’s Menswear - which is closing after 60 years at Doncaster Market.

The stall at the Wool Market first opened in 1957, when Jim and Molly Gill began trading at the site.

Jim had been a trouser cutter, and set up the business to sell shirts and trousers he had made himself.

It ran as a family business for 60 years, with son Steve and his wife Annette also working there, and more recently Jim’s 27-year-old grandson Robert.

Steve and Annette will continue running their other stall in Chesterfield, while Robert is moving into car sales.

Steve said they were closing because of uncertainty over the future.

He said: “My dad, Jim, finished working here five years ago, but I think he would have still been working here if he could!

“We still had customers who have been with us 60 years. Some of them came here as children.”