SUPPORTING LOCAL AT LEICESTER MARKET
My family and I have been visiting Leicester Market ever since I can remember for fresh produce including fruit, vegetables, world-inspired produce, fish, flowers and the odd household item. I am a great advocate of supporting local and really love Leicester’s landmark market place, which brings back so many nostalgic memories from when I was younger. To me Leicester Market is a melting pot of cultures, flavours and traders whom I’ve got to know over the years and visit religiously for fresh produce. It’s a place that is just so authentic to Leicester and I can guarantee that on almost every visit I’m sure to bump into an old auntie or friends!
Yes, it was here that I was introduced to the home-boy Garry Linekar’s parents pick your own fruit and veg stall! Leicester Market is a place where, whilst you make your way through the narrow paths in between the stalls, glancing occasionally down at your food list, with the loud cries of traders shouting out about their offerings, you will begin to hear yourself mentally concocting dishes with the fresh harvest presented before you!
Being boastfully proud of the market in my hometown, it was only apt that it gets a proud stretch of web space on be-lavie and show you around a place that contributes to the true essence of my calling Leicester home!
One Friday lunchtime myself and a fellow blogger, Neha met up with Leicester Market’s development manager, Adam Piotrowski, who kindly filled us in with the recent changes to the market and its local offerings. But first a whistle-stop history tour…
LEICESTER MARKET: LETS TALK HISTORY
Many moons ago, back in 1229 Henry VIII granted a fair in Leicester entitled “good men of Leicester” where the city became the centre for trade in the area. A market took place bounded by the city walls and the corn exchange, used by horse dealers to display the speed of their animals. The corn exchange still stands but has now been converted into Lloyds, a popular watering hole.
The market was mentioned in the market charter and since the 1850s was held on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays in contrast to now where it operates six days a week!
The market area was an open public space used for many protests and parades including political rallies held by the suffragette Alice Hawkins, who played a big role in the 100 mile march to London raising awareness of the plight of the unemployed in 1905. A statue of Alice Hawkins was unveiled in February 2018 to mark the centenary of the Representation of the People Act 1918, the act that gave all men and some women the right to vote. However, Alice campaigned with fellow suffragette, Emmeline Pankhurst to allow women the freedom to have the right to vote and exercise that vote as equals to men. In June 2014, the new food hall opened to house dry goods, replacing the old 1970’s building and fish market. This light and airy almost Scandi-design building has won several awards including Britain’s Best Food Market in 2015!
The Food Hall butchers offer a large selection of quality meat and poultry. The Deli traders have a fantastic variety of artisan cheeses such as Red Leicester, Melton Mowbray Pork Pies, cooked sliced meats, bacon and local pork pies and are happy to give you samples to taste before you purchase.
There are two fishmongers stocking a wide selection of fish and seafood: king prawns, scallops, salmon, seabass, shark steak, cod, tuna, lobster and even shark steak!
There are in the region of 80 traders at the market with the fruits and veg traders occupying between 2-4 stalls to show off their delicious produce. The outdoor market is the best place to get quality fruit and vegetables.
There is also exotic produce on offer from a range of speciality sellers offering African, Caribbean and Indian vegetables. A lot of the produce is not grown locally as you can imagine with the location of Leicester but is bought in from the wholesalers, which are not too far from the Leicester Market location.
However, the Food Hall does have a large proportion of cheeses and other products, which are locally sourced such as the Long Clawson Stilton and Belton Red Leicester.
Other stalls include household goods such as carpets, bedding, curtains, plants to name a few! I’m particularly a fan of the flower stall, which provide fresh cut hand-tied bouquets.
Lets not forget about the small tantalising fact that you can grab yourself a Falafel wrap (and other falafel goodies) and a Moroccan tea at the Just Falafel stall just outside the Food Hall.
Additionally there is Burt’s café for traditional English grub and the coffee shop just at the front of the market arch entrance, Bocca.
It is also great to see so many of my favourite local restaurants and bars supporting the markets, such as Kai, who I’ve bumped into on numerus occasions at the Food Hall and also 33 Cank Street for those citrus fruit drink accompaniments.
Leicester Market has undergone multi-million pound improvements including the creation of a large, open public square beside the new food hall. Look out for a variety of special events in the new space including an annual Christmas market, first held in 2017, and Zumba classes on Fridays with the lovely Leona Knott.
The summer period also saw a regular cookery series on Friday lunchtimes, where local eateries such as Lilu Fine Dining and Head of Steam, to mention a couple, did a live cookery demo using ingredients sourced from the market.
INCREASING FOOT FALL
I was happy to hear from Adam that there are grand plans instore for the market with a huge focus on increasing the foot fall into the area. Leicester Market very much upholds the ethos of it being a working market place with a huge focus on providing good quality fruit and veg alongside other elements such as the food stalls and other sellers. Plans are in place for a screen to be erected behind the historical Corn Exchange where people can gather and watch content projected from a projector, which will be placed close to the Knight and Garter. This is due for completion around Feb 2019.
Additionally, Dolphin Square just in front of the iconic Fish Market building is set to get a face lift in 2019 so the entire area will feel more welcoming and will be able to be seen from Horsefair Street too. The section of the market facing Dolphin Square will be opened up to reveal more specialist stalls such as vintage, antiques with seating being put up opposite the square. January 2019, will additionally see an introduction to new lighting in the market space to make the area inviting and attractive to walk through. Exciting plans ahead to show off our lovely market to its full potential and encourage locals to use this space as it was intended back when it was funded.
RECENT MILESTONE EVENTS IN LEICESTER MARKET’s HISTORY
Introduction of the permanent cafe and 15 further units on the outdoor market.
Introduction of the Farmers Market.
Leicester Market crowned ‘Britian’s Favourite Market 2009’ in Nabma awarded public vote.
A newly-refurbished Market Corner is opened to provide an open space for events and specialist markets to be held upon.
The magnificent new Food Hall opens its doors for the first time and is later awarded the 2014 New Build Award at Leicester Civic Society’s Annual Civic Society Awards.
A stunning new space behind the historic Corn Exchange is opened – the new Market Square – with the first Leicester Christmas Market held in December.
Unveiling of the local suffragette Alice Hawkins’ statue in Market Place, who campaigned tirelessly to give woman the right to vote.
Many thanks to Leicester Market development officer, Adam Piotroski for the tour. As always all opinions, views and photography are my own and remain a copyright of be-lavie.
Tel. 0116 4543185
Find out more about Leicester Market
Do you support local in your city or Town? I’d love to know in the comments below!