Dewsbury Market traders concerned over move into shipping containers

As Dewsbury creates space for “bright and colourful” shipping containers, many market traders are concerned about their livelihood.

By Jessica Barton
Thursday, 17th February 2022, 6:00 am

Stallholders are being temporarily relocated into units in the town centre while work is carried out on the £15m refurbishment of Dewsbury Market.

The containers will be decorated by artists from the Cubic Fruit project as part of the Dewsbury Creative Town Art Programme.

The programme is a £200,000 initiative funded by Kirklees Council, produced by arts organisation Beam.

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Stallholders are being temporarily relocated into colourful units while work is carried out on the £15m refurbishment of Dewsbury Market.

The plans for Dewsbury, including the regeneration of the market, aim to honour the heritage, build on recent investments and revitalise the town centre, with its main aim to enhance the town through permanent and temporary art.

Kate Watson, producer at Dewsbury Creative Town, said: "We're thrilled to be involved in the temporary market project and to be able to bring art to the streets of Dewsbury is a real honour.

“Cubic Fruit's proposed plans for the containers are guaranteed to be bright and colourful and will provide a unique setting for the market to thrive.

“We're all looking forward to seeing the containers and artwork in place and being able to experience the atmosphere ourselves.”

The containers will be decorated by Cubic Fruit artists Charlotte Emmeline North, Rebecca Appleby, Lauren Bower, Steven Ryder.

The designs for the shipping containers have been developed by Cubic Fruit artists Charlotte Emmeline North, Rebecca Appleby, Lauren Bower, Steven Ryder.

The artists group met at college and university, and all have roots to the Dewsbury area through their working life.

Rebecca a former technician at Dewsbury College, Lauren is a current technician at Batley Girls School, and Charlotte and Rebecca were previously based at Red Brick Mill in Batley.

Digital designs recreated on different substrates, direct to surface paint and 3D forms will make up the artwork planned for Dewsbury's temporary container market.

The shipping containers, when installed, will be located down Foundry Street, Market Place, outside the town hall and along Longcauseway.

Lead artist Charlotte said: “Every so often a project comes along that completely aligns with your ethos as a designer, ignites your passion, harmonises all of your skills and those of your network.

“Inspired by the possibility of brilliant minds being brought together to do brilliant things. Almost overnight the vision embedded and Cubic Fruit was formed.

“The key words in the original brief were ‘to create a vibrant installation’, with the colour being really important.

“We wanted a really strong and vibrant base colour to set the artwork off and because we are only putting artwork on half of the containers, so the base colours themselves are an installation too.

Neil Wilcock has owned J.N. Wilcock butchers for 35 years and is concerned about his livelihood.

“Because we are working in a town centre with a lot of sandstone buildings, we spent a lot of time working on the colour palette and how the colours would look in all the different zones.

“The containers are going to be orange, berry and lilac.

“So far the response has been really positive around the design, but the main concerns for market traders is how they are physically going to fit their products into the containers, how it is going to look and what sort of functions they are going to need within the containers.

“It’s a big change, and anything that causes change and upheaval is always scary.”

However, the market traders who are moving into the containers have their concerns - some being forced to close their doors.

Raymond and Barbra Whitaker, owners of Ray ’n’ Babs Greeting Cards, have been traders at the market for 26 years. They feel “disappointed” as they will not be returning to the market after the regeneration.

Raymond and Barbra said: “Everything is changing isn't it, the whole town's changing. The refurbishment is going to take nearly two years, in a cabin for two years is not sustainable.

“We assume they can’t fit ours because we have three stalls here and when it is fully stocked it's packed, it won’t go into a cabin.

“I think when it is done it will look nice, it will be very pretty and the top half of the park will look lovely.

“But as far as traders are concerned, they won't be happy to go right up to the top end for the open air stalls because it is very quiet at that end anyway.

“It might be good, it might not, but as far I am concerned we have lost this.”

Neil Wilcock, owner of J.N. Wilcock butchers, said: “I have been here for 35 years and I have seen a lot happen in that time.

“Things have run down and it does need improving but not just the market, the whole town centre.

“However, I do believe it could have been done differently and better.

“There is going to be a massive shortage of space, I am possibly one of the few that will have about the same space. Everybody else will struggle, because there just won't be enough room for them to operate.

“There has been a massive lack of communication from the council. They are not telling us things and they keep saying it will be alright, but it's our livelihood - and you just can’t get in touch with anyone.

“It's alright saying it is going to be alright but this is what pays my bills.

“We also can’t plan anything because they keep moving the dates. They have moved the dates about four times now.

“We have been told to source things such as fridges to go in these units, but we can’t order anything because we need to know a definite date to arrange it.

“Coming back to the market when it is done will be wonderful and hopefully we will look forward to that.”

Kirklees Council is still trying to figure out the exact time scale and locations for the containers, as they are still in planning stages of the projects. However, the market traders will be the first to know this information when it is decided.

Coun Eric Firth, cabinet member for town centres, said: “I’m excited to see the future design which will bring a new lease of life to Dewsbury’s famous market for our residents, visitors and traders.

“The vibrant social spaces it creates will encourage people to work, shop, rest, eat, drink and play, helping local traders, businesses and the town centre to thrive.

“The market relocation programme is a big project for the council so we want to make sure the containers are attractive, inspiring and in keeping with the surroundings.”

The shipping containers, when installed, will be located down Foundry Street, Market Place, outside the town hall and along Longcauseway.