Doncaster Market told it is 'the future of the town' as rejuvenated fish stalls and seafood court win coveted award

Doncaster Market's wet fish and seafood offering have swept the board at the Great British Market Awards.

Judges praised the historic market's 'distinct charm' and called it 'the future of the town' and were impressed with its quality, affordability and market managers' commitment to supporting new businesses when awarding it the Best Small Food Market title.

Doncaster Council handed a 25-year lease to private operator Market Asset Management, and although there has been controversy over some regeneration schemes that have seen long-serving stallholders relocated from the Wool Market to the Corn Exchange, the development of the fish stalls has been a major success story spearheaded by the opening of prosecco and seafood bar Clam & Cork, which was included in the Good Food Guide 2020 and visited by Guardian restaurant critic Jay Rayner.

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Clam & Cork sources its ingredients from the nearby stalls and its popularity has complemented the traditional fishmongers.

The fish stalls

At the awards ceremony in Birmingham, the judges' citation read: "Amazingly, this market has eight independent fishmongers and is renowned from far and wide for its quality and affordability.

"Many of the faces that can be found in the fish market are long-standing characters who help give this market its distinct charm."

The judges also acknowledged MAM's work with traders to ensure it continues to thrive and evolve, ranging from support with social media promotion, expansion plans and utilising start-up rent incentives and flexible lease terms to ensure units are attractive to small and independent businesses taking the leap.

In 2021, MAM supported Clam & Cork to expand, creating a 360-degree kitchen that doubled the number of covers and provided sightlines through the whole fish market.

Seafood and wine bar Clam & Cork

A partnership approach has been adopted, which includes turnover rents, marketing support and staff support for extended trading hours.

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This market stall has become Doncaster's first-ever entry in the Good Food Guide

Handing MAM the award judges said: "The market works closely with new and aspiring businesses, offers support through unique social media channels and is part of a wider estate.

"However, it has the status of being a distinctive small indoor food market in its own right with its own branding and character."

Martyn's stall The Gentleman Fishmonger

"It is a key part of the local heritage but also the future of its town. It provides valuable social food equality and community services to the whole town."

Long-serving fishmongers such as veteran of 50 years Nigel Berry supply their wares to Clam & Cork, where chefs cook the dishes fresh in full view of customers. The Gentleman Fishmonger, Martyn Pippard, has run his stand for 30 years and still gets up at 3am to travel to the best wholesale produce markets.

The fish traders adapted during lockdowns, offering delivery services and seeing demand increase as buyers stayed away from supermarkets where stocks of non-essential goods had dwindled.

Doncaster Market general manager Michelle Hobson said: "All of our incredible fishmongers work tirelessly to bring the people of Doncaster a wonderful range of fresh fish and seafood. It's fantastic that the team approach the traders and we have here is getting this national recognition.

"The market has endless potential, and we are so excited for you all to experience its bright future with us."