Traders see light at end of wind tunnel

Penistone's new Market Hall.
Penistone's new Market Hall.
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ACCORDING to locals, it’s the highest market town in the country, and living 750ft above sea level means that wild weather conditions are regarded as a fact of life by most people.

So when plans were announced for a new £1m market hall in Penistone, on the edge of the Pennines, stallholders expected the huge price tag to incorporate some form of wind protection.

But for more than a year, traders endured “impossible” conditions and yesterday told how they had to battle for modifications which have finally been completed at an additional cost of £130,000.

Originally, blueprints showed glazed panels around the base of the timber structure but when the building opened for business in late 2010 they were conspicuous by their absence.

The market’s hardy traders, many of whom have been braving the elements for decades, initially shrugged off the setback but were quickly shocked to see their wares sent flying.

David Hampshaw, who has been a market trader for 20 years, said the wind was “funnelled” into the building and had flattened stalls in seconds.

Mr Hampshaw, of Holmfirth, who sells footwear, added: “The tables were blown over, and people’s stock was flying about, fish and vegetables and all sorts were blowing around.

“I’m glad they have finally got the glass sides in, but they should have done it from the start. It would have saved a lot of trouble.

“The problem is that the people who built it were from down south, and they don’t get our weather down there.”

Greengrocer Steve Price, whose father Edwin began trading on the market almost six decades ago, described the “dreadful” conditions he had suffered.

“It was almost impossible to stand when the wind and rain were at their worst – it was like a wind tunnel. We were struggling to work because of the conditions.

“It was frightening when the wind was whistling in because it was lifting the stalls up and throwing them down to the other end of the building.

“Originally when we broached the subject of why the glass had not been fitted we were told there would be too much movement in the wood for it to be safe.

“But we knew that it was not beyond the wit of man to find some way of putting panels in and we have been proved right.”

“When the building came with a budget in excess of £1m we were surprised it wasn’t done originally. The planners at Barnsley Council should have known better.”

Mr Price, who lives near Penistone ,said he was now pleased with the new market, which was built as part of a project anchored by a new Tesco store in Penistone town centre.

He added: “We have got to move forward, and before Tesco this area was pretty derelict. The council would have done nothing on its own, so I’m happy with what we have finally achieved.”

Karen Richardson, the branch secretary of the National Market Traders Federation for Penistone Market, said many colleagues had been frustrated by the council, but said a “good working relationship” now existed.

Mrs Richardson, who runs a children’s clothes stall, said: “What has happened here is that we have had to work in a building that was incomplete.

“We want to continue working in partnership with the council and to keep it positive, because now we have a 100 per cent occupancy and there is even a waiting list.”

Local councillor Steve Millner said many people in Penistone had been “puzzled” as to why the building had not been finished in the way the original plans suggested it should be.

But he welcomed the fact that the work had finally been completed and added: “It is a real shame that it wasn’t done right first time.

“We want it to be more than just a market hall, and we are aiming for it to be a community facility with events and concerts taking place there as well.”

A spokesman for Barnsley Council said the £130,000 bill had also included new CCTV and bollards as well as the glass panels and windbreaks.

• WHEN it was first announced, Penistone’s market building was hailed by Barnsley Council as “possibly the largest public oak frame for hundreds of years”.

But despite winning an architecture award, it was soon attracting criticism and was even described as “more fit for a jumble sale than a market”.

The building is part of a wider £15m redevelopment of Penistone town centre and now hosts the weekly Thursday market and a weekend Farmers’ Market.

The building was designed by Devon-based Carpenter Oak. Before it opened the market was held nearby using traditional stalls.