Scunthorpe Market

Rose Nicholson, Heritage Manager

Scunthorpe Market: The Beginning

Scunthorpe’s first market was established in 1890 by Mr. R. J. H. Parkinson. He then leased the rights to Mr. R. I. Swaby, landlord of the Blue Bell Hotel. In 1892 it was described as a ‘commodious cattle market with slaughterhouse, covering an acre of ground’.

On 7 March 1904 Scunthorpe Urban District Council polled ratepayers to see whether a new public market should be established under Section 166 of the 1875 Public Health Act. An overwhelming majority voted in favour. By 1 July 1905, the purchase of the market site and existing buildings had been completed at a cost of £5,000.

The 1906 opening was an important event. The market was one of a number of new public services established by Scunthorpe Urban District Council to meet the needs of the growing industrial town.  

The formal opening of Scunthorpe Market on 2 March 1906 by the second Lord St Oswald, Charles Winn.
People outside the entrance to the new Scunthorpe public Market Hall at the opening on 2 March 1906.

Building alterations and enlargements followed, including a new market hall and slaughterhouses. When it opened, market days were Fridays and Saturdays on alternate weeks, with a cattle market held next door on alternate Tuesdays. Poultry sales were held each Monday and furniture sales were held in the cattle market. The hall was also used for public events and meetings.

Scunthorpe Confectionary Company’s market during the First World War. Standing behind the counter is Mr. Keetch.
In the early years the Market Hall was also used for events such as this dinner laid out for a visit by the Provincial Grand Lodge of Freemasons around 1910.
Scunthorpe Market Hall decorated for an election meeting for Sir Berkeley Sheffield on 22 February 1907.

Scunthorpe Market: Early Developments

The original market consisted of 20 open-topped stalls surrounded by 10 lock-up shops. From the start it was the policy of the various Market Committees to develop and improve the market. A new hall was added in 1925, more than doubling the accommodation available, and the area laid out for the open market at the rear was extended. This area was once the stack yard of Edward Dore’s farm on Scunthorpe High Street, which was also used as a fairground.

The stall of A. Cooper, Provision Dealer, Florist and Fruiter, in Scunthorpe Market Hall around 1910. From left to right, Alf Cooper, Miss Ilety, and Mrs Ruth Cooper.
Edward Dore’s thatched farm cottage on Scunthorpe High Street in 1910.
Smith and Warren’s funfair in the Edward Dore’s farms old stack yard at Easter 1913. Scunthorpe Market stands here today.

Electric lighting was installed in 1926. In 1951 a new cattle market next to the abattoir was opened and Scunthorpe’s popular sister market in Ashby opened.

Tom and Celia Bones buying things for their new home in Scunthorpe Market around 1950. This is one of a series of Central Office of Information photographs published after the Second World War known as ‘The Bones of Steel’, telling the story of a typical Scunthorpe family of steelworkers.
Scunthorpe Cattle Market with the slaughterhouse on the right situated at the rear of the main Market Hall, around 1930.
Alfred Read’s confectionery stall in Scunthorpe’s Market Hall. On the right can be seen the entrance from the High Street.

Scunthorpe Market: Later Developments

The later twentieth century saw further changes to the Market. In March 1970 the cattle market was closed. On 3 November 1972 the new Food Hall, winner of a national design award, was opened as part of the Scunthorpe shopping precinct redevelopment. The Market remained a central feature of the town’s retail economy, with over 200 stalls on the site.

Stalls in the shopping precinct outside Scunthorpe Market in the 1970s.
The open section of the Market in 1966.
Tiling the floor of the new Food Hall on 25 May 1972.
Stalls in the new Market Hall, just before it was opened in November 1972. The photograph also highlights the oast house style roof.
Inside the new Food Hall after it was rebuilt as part of the precinct re-development.
Shop units outside the new Market Hall in the mid-1970s after it was rebuilt as part of the precinct re-development.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s competition grew, notably from out of town supermarkets. Shopping trends began to change with an increase in car ownership and the lure of free parking with “everything under one roof”. The Council continued to invest in the Market and 1991 saw major repairs to the Food Hall costing £100,000, including a new floor and drainage system. Refurbishments to the Old Hall in 1994 cost £60,000.

St John’s Market Today

2 March 2006 marked the one hundredth anniversary of Scunthorpe’s public market. In 2012 the old outdoor stalls were demolished to create a new shoppers car park. Since then, the market hall has been refurbished and upgraded with free public wi-fi and communal seating rooms. The market reopened on 22 March 2019 as St John’s Market.

Today the new indoor market remains North Lincolnshire’s biggest market. The Hall houses over 70 traders under one roof. Shoppers can buy everything from buttons and pushchairs to bacon and vintage collectibles. The Food Court offers cuisines from around the world.

Visit the St John’s Market website for more information.

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