Thursday, 19 December 2013

The Moor Market.

The Moor Market, Sheffield
Photo © Copyright Peter Barr and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
Castle Market may have breathed its last but, to take its place, we have the brand new Moor Market which manages to be diametrically opposed to its predecessor both geographically and conceptually, being at the polar opposite end of the town from the traditional markets area - and being what's basically a large shed as opposed to the insane labyrinth of Castle Market.

To be honest, being tight-fisted, I've not yet bought anything there but have had a couple of walks around. What most strikes me is that, despite its greater simplicity, it seems harder to navigate than Castle Market. Castle Market may have seemed convoluted but, thanks to the stairwells and the junction with the neighbouring meat and fish market, you mostly understood where you were relative to the overall building. The Moor Market's lack of such landmarks makes it easier to gain a sense of disorientation.

Design-wise, the most impressive thing about the building is its high-profile arched entrance that contrasts dramatically with the near-secret entrance to Castle Market.

The least impressive thing design-wise is probably the blank, unadorned wall facing Cumberland Street. It does seem odd that the side that faces where all the buses stop should be so anonymous and present no noticeable point of access. On the other hand, the side that faces the neighbouring car park has two entrances. Clearly, when they were designing it, the council were far more concerned about convenience for drivers than for bus passengers. It seems some people's fears about the new markets being part of an obsessive council drive towards gentrification of the city may not be totally unfounded.

Overall, despite those reservations, I think I have to conclude that the lighter, less claustrophobic feel and the lack of internal staircases, make it a better place to shop than Castle Market. But the real good news for me is the building has a large Iceland and Poundland built into the side of it which is perfect for a man of my quality.

According to The Sheffield Telegraph, footfall on the Moor is up 30% thanks to the new building's opening. Hopefully this bodes well for the future development plans of the rest of the Moor.

Sadly, how footfall is holding up on Waingate since Castle Market closed, has yet to be reported.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Castle Market.

Castle Market, Haymarket, Waingate, Sheffield
Castle Market photo © Copyright David Dixon and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
In a tragedy for all lovers of rampantly lunatic architecture, Sheffield's Castle Market was closed down last week, to be replaced by a spanking new indoor market at the bottom of the Moor. From comments on various sites, it seems few'll miss it.

But I certainly will.

I'll miss it for three reasons.

One was that I have happy childhood memories of it. I got my first ever box of Lego there, from a stall that had a Lego model of Queen Elizabeth as its centrepiece. I got a Dalek money box from there - possibly from the same stall. I also got a machine gun (admittedly not a real one) from the market, and a banjo. Truly it was a place of many and magical delights for a child.

Secondly, in the good old days it had a pet shop in one of the units that lined the building's ground floor exterior. That shop's downstairs holds no great memories for me but the upstairs had goldfish and snakes. No trip to town was complete without a trip to see the snakes.

The other reason is that it's a building that makes no sense at all. So random is its exterior that it's impossible to close your eyes and imagine walking round the outside of it. It's like a whole bunch of different buildings have collided with each other through some process of continental drift.

Likewise with its oddly labyrinthine interior that left you with the feeling you could roam it every hour of every day of your life and somehow still never fully know it. There'd always be some nook, some cranny, you'd never before encountered. That might not have it a sensible design for a market building but it did mean it was impossible to get bored by it.

I assume it's a truly unique building because I can't believe anyone would ever have been daft enough to build another market anything like it but, of course, that means the complexity and randomness that made it a bizarre design for a market also made it seem oddly special.
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