Todmorden. A Market & A Folk Festival.

The weather had at last taken a turn for the better, the sun was high in the sky and the breeze was warm. There had been a run of grey, wet days and I needed to get out of the house and into the world outside. I’m lucky in where I live in North West England that there are really good transport links, railways in particular. It was a Saturday so that markets would be open, I really like the atmosphere that come with a market in a northern town. I picked the town of Todmorden as my destination, it sits up on the Pennines on the Lancashire – Yorkshire border and is a decent train ride away.

I made my way to my local station, Newton le Willows on Stephenson’s historic Liverpool to Manchester route bought my ticket and caught the train into Manchester where I would pick up the onward service to Todmorden. The train change at Manchester was a relaxed one, time enough for a coffee and some people watching on the station concourse, then it was onwards and out through the suburbs of Manchester and into the Pennines. For all the urban sprawl around Manchester, its soon left behind as the hills make their presence felt.

The steady climb up through the rolling moors is suddenly interrupted by the sudden blackness as the train plunges into Summit Tunnel, at over a mile in length it is an example of the challenges that face the Victorian railway builders. With modern trains the tunnel is a brief-ish blip on a journey but for the early passengers travelling behind a smoke and spark belching steam locomotive it must have been a very much more thrilling experience.

Coming out of the tunnel the journey was only a few more minutes before the train pulled into Todmorden station, which sits a little above the town centre. The town was busy, a combination of good weather. Market day and it being the weekend of the town’s Folk Festival.

First order of business after any journey is a coffee and I knew just the place in the market hall, the Exchange Coffee stall.

05/05/18  TODMORDEN. The Folk Festival 2018. Market Hall, Exchan

TODMORDEN. On the Saturday market hall, Exchange Coffee stall.

You will never go hungry or thirsty in Todmorden, there are so many places to choose from but this is a favourite of mine, as is the market hall itself. So it was a mug of really good coffee and some cake ( some things just go together ) while I gathered my thoughts and took in the surroundings. There’s the market hall, with is collection of businesses, butchers, bakers and a ‘proper’ hardware stall.

05/05/18  TODMORDEN. The Folk Festival 2018. Market Hall. Hardwa

TODMORDEN. On the Saturday market hall, the hardware stall.

 

While outside there are more stalls, the whole place having that atmosphere of busy coming and going, conversations being had, shopping being dome and friend and acquaintances being greeted.

A local church had set up a fund gathering cake stall, the cakes were good too. It would have been rude to walk past and not make a donation, well that was my excuse.

05/05/18  TODMORDEN. The Folk Festival 2018. The Open Market. St

TODMORDEN. On the Saturday open market, St. Peter’s Church Wallsden, Charity cake stall.

 

The fishmonger was in town as well, busy in the hot sunshine.

05/05/18  TODMORDEN. The Folk Festival 2018. The Open Market. Pa

TODMORDEN. On the Saturday open market, Paul’s Fresh Fish.

 

Your sweet tooth would be well catered for on Mrs B’s stall, where jams, honey and marmalades were the order of the day.

05/05/18  TODMORDEN. The Folk Festival 2018. The Saturday Open M

TODMORDEN. On the Saturday open market, Mrs. B’s jams and cakes.

 

Dragging myself away from the market I went in search of the Folk festival. There was a busy program of events and the various troupes of dancers and musicians were performing at various points around the town. The image at the head of this post is off the 400 Roses Belly Dancers, who bewitched the crowds with their graceful, rhythmic movements.

For contrast the Oakenhoof Clog Dancers also entertained with the steady click clack of the clogs backed by the breathy notes of the accordion and the twangs of the guitars.

05/05/18  TODMORDEN. The Folk Festival 2018. Oakenhoof Clog Danc

TODMORDEN. The Folk Festival 2018. The Oakenhoof Clog Dancers accordion player.

 

05/05/18  TODMORDEN. The Folk Festival 2018. Oakenhoof Clog Danc

TODMORDEN. The Folk Festival 2018. The Oakenhoof Clog Dancers. Man in a hat full of blossom.

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Chorley. Leek & Potato Soup

The weather in my part of the UK is currently bouncing to and fro between wet, windy or just plain horrible and it’s been like this for the past few weeks. I finally ran out of patience a couple of days back and decided I had to get out of the house come what may. I had counted all the flowers on my wallpaper more than once and my camera was sat in it’s case feeling lonely and neglected.

It was Tuesday, that meant Flat Iron Market day in the nearby town of Chorley. I believe the name comes from the practice in years gone by of turning up at the market with an old blanket, the corners of which you weighted down with anything to hand, old flat irons etc and that was your stall and that name stuck. Things are more organised today. Due to building work the Flat Iron isn’t on it’s usual site, a large car park instead the stalls are threaded through the streets around the covered market. I must admit I like it, the arrangement means you get the best of both worlds, the regular shops, Chorley has a fine selection of independent traders, mixed in with the market stalls.

You would have to put a lot of effort into going hungry in Chorley, the choices of places to eat is really wide. To warm up on this visit I took myself to Bees Country Kitchen on the side of the covered market. This place is a true gem, an almost bewildering selection of food comes out of a single market stall. I went for the Leek & Potato soup, perfect for the cold weather. Seating is in a couple of pavilions alongside so you get to eat and watch the world go by. Perfect if you are looking for inspiration for that project/image/idea.

The Bees Country Kitchen

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Knutsford. Market In The Street.

The weather’s been frightful, as the song goes. I needed to get out of the house for a couple of hours and give my car a warm through as it had been standing for a couple of days in the snow and the rain.

I live near the northern part of Cheshire which puts a clutch of market towns within easy reach. For this trip I set my sights on the town of Knutsford, I knew from previous visits that the town was quite lively on Sundays with plenty of eating places open, along with quite a few of the towns shops. What I hadn’t planned for was the pleasant surprise of the monthly Makers Market being held. I have visited this event before but for some reason my Winter addled brain was convinced that it would not be restarting until after Easter. Note to self, check the internet more often before planning journeys. At the moment car parking is free on Sundays but if an event is on it can get a bit tricky. Luckily I found somewhere fairly quickly and it was only as I turned the corner onto Princess Street did I discover why this Sunday was such a busy one.

04/03/18  KNUTSFORD. Makers Market. Cakes and Biscuits.

KNUTSFORD. The Monthly Makers Market. Home made cakes and biscuits.

The Market fills the length of one street an a few of the side streets running off. I decided to make lunch my first call and looked into a favourite venue of mine, the Cheese Yard on Cotton Yard. The inspiration for the menu is in the title, and a very pleasant menu it is too. I opted for the potato cake, scrambled eggs and bacon, perfect food for a cold day.

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The Cheese Yard. Potato Cake, Scrambled Eggs & Bacon.

The market offers a very wide range of produce, artisan breads and cakes through handmade craft good to real ales and cheeses. There’s also always a wide spread of street food vendors and live music on offer.

04/03/18  KNUTSFORD. Makers Market. Pickled Vegetables.

KNUTSFORD. The Monthly Makers Market. Pickled Vegetables.

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Market Day

I live in the North West of England and I am a great fan of local markets, the mix of goods for sale and the conversations that bounce to and fro between stallholders and customers are two of the experiences that make a visit to the market such an enjoyable experience for me. Also they are a constantly evolving business as tastes and customers change, reflecting the increasing diversity of their customers backgrounds and heritage. and of course they are the perfect hunting ground for the photographer out on the hunt for the candid image.

LANCASHIRE, Ormskirk. The Saturday Market.

LANCASHIRE, Ormskirk. the Saturday Market.

There are generally two types of market, the market hall, the header pic is the fine Victorian market hall in Darwen, Lancashire, built with civic pride and confidence and dating from the 1880’s. These are generally open for most of the week, sometimes with extra stalls opening up outside on particular days. The other is the open market, opening on one or two days a week and featuring stallholders who travel from venue to venue. The picture above of Ormskirk Market shows this second. The market is open two days a week, Thursday and Saturday and is held on the pedestrianised main street, adding a colourful hustle and bustle to the town’s atmosphere. Everything from fresh meat and vegetables to bedding and shoes can be found, plus plenty of opportunities for a candid image.

CUMBRIA, Keswick. The Market

CUMBRIA, Keswick. The Market.

The Cumbrian town of Keswick also has a fine example of the open market, again opening on Thursdays and Saturdays, the mix of goods available, rare breed meats, handcrafted cheeses, artisan breads etc as well as the more regular items reflects Keswicks place as a popular tourist destination.

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ACCRINGTON MARKET HALL.

Out in East Lancashire you will find the fine and imposing market hall at Accrington, its frontage an exercise in Victorian pomp, with clock, columns and statues representing the various bounties that nature provides. For all their almost otherworldly elegance the places are not museums but are a vital, vibrant, functioning part of the local community.

110212 ACCRINGTON Market Hall wrought iron roof

This interior shot of Accrington market shows the simple but elegant ironwork that supports the high, clerestory roof. It’s one of the things I admire about Victorian architecture, function wasn’t enough, there had to be style and elegance as well. Also as can be seen the largely uncluttered floor space allows alterations and modernisations to take place relatively easily.

01/05/15 BURY. The Market.

BURY. The open market, Brandwood Farm Meats.

North of Manchester you will find Bury and it’s market, spread over two halls, one dedicated to fresh meat and fish and the other to general items. Sprawling between the two is the network of alleyways and stalls of the open market, where you can shop until you drop. 

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Bury Market, Cafe Plaza

Should you feel shopper’s fatigue coming on don’t worry every market has a cafe, or a selection of them. I find them perfect places to spend a while with coffee and cake or  bacon roll ( usually all three to be honest ) and just let the world pass by.

11/07/13 HUDDERSFIELD. The Market, fruit and veg.

HUDDERSFIELD. West Yorkshire. Huddersfield Market, fruit and veg

Bustling Huddersfield in West Yorkshire is another favourite destination, I watch in fascination as stallholders bounce from customer to customer without a break in the rhythm, a dance set to conversation and chatter instead of music. I had some of the apples by the way and one of the melons. They were good. 

23-10-12 BOLTON.  The market, Take Away

Last but not least, what is almost my local market, at Bolton, Lancashire. It’s on Ashburner Street, not too far from the excellent Octagon Theatre.  Not too long ago it had a bit of a refit which has worked really well, the strengths of the market were recognised and left untouched, with skilfull improvements, a food court with a real ale bar, adding to the atmosphere. There is a cheese stall that exerts an almost magnetic attraction for me, I must have been a mouse in a previous life. So that’s a brief tour around part of my northern and photographic heritage and influences. So next time you go to the market, take a camera as well.