Colne’s great market tradition

BARGAIN HUNTERS: Colne Market Hall characters, 1980. (S)
BARGAIN HUNTERS: Colne Market Hall characters, 1980. (S)

This week a scene from 1980 as we look into a packed Colne Market Hall with, centre-stage, four local characters.

From left to right: “Yours truly”, with a bag full of goodies; Sam Ansell, Colne’s last clog-maker; Bill Longden, the last original “Shepherd Arms” landlord; “Rossendale Bill”, a joker of great repute. It was a truly magical market meet-up.

Here in Bonnie Colne we have had a market and fair charters since the year 1120, with traditional market stalls in situ at the bottom of Dockray Street, known for miles around since Georgian times.

In 1898 a market hall was built, being enlarged in 1901, along Dockray Street at the cost of £13,270. Then in July, 1935, a terrible fire totally destroyed the market hall and a new one costing £27,450 was opened in October, 1937.

This is the one that so many of my generation remember with great nostalgia. The toy and book stall run by Mr and Mrs Bolton with lead toy soldiers, cowboys and Indians and a host of lead zoo animals (I’ve still got lots of these saved from the 1940s). Also much loved was Mrs Turner’s record stall, with LPs at 32/2d, EPs at 10/10 and a half penny and 45s (singles) at 6/6d, not forgetting “photos of the stars” Frankie Laine, Guy Mitchell and Bill Haley, only sixpence each.

By April 1973 the magical market hall down Dockray Street had closed and on Market Street a brand-new, somewhat sombre hall opened at the cost of £212,700.

Now this building is to receive a makeover, which will happily keep the proud, long-standing market tradition here in Colne for many more decades to come.