News that Ashton Market Hall was destroyed by fire last night has left me feeling pretty damned devastated. This grand Victorian celebration of the small market trader was a part of my childhood and a regular stopping off point during the Saturday shopping trip. If you’re quick, you can catch the aftermath from the webcam on the council buildings.
Ashton Market has a tremendous history going back to 1284 when it was granted the King’s Charter and the beginnings of the market hall came in 1829 when an enclosed butcher’s stall was built. It has been home to a multitude of traders, many of whom will now be out of business.
Favourite memories of shopping in Ashton include listening to the traders’ patter and watching as they hurled complete dinner sets in the air and never failing to catch them; buying fresh mussels by the stone; the smell of fresh ground coffee; the tobacconist’s which was about the only place you could buy French fags locally; the smell of smoked bacon as you passed the butcher’s; the green tiled lavatories; and the sheer hubbub of a Saturday afternoon in Ashton. It will be dearly missed.