the Market Memories





The Market Memories Project

recent history of the market

In the mid-1970’s the Mays Wholesale (Fruit and Vegetables) market was moved to the Boucher Road. What was left were the weekly markets; the poultry and egg market, the wholesale fish market, the variety market, the weekly fruit and vegetable market (open-air) and Belfast Second-hand and Flea Market.

In 1978 the Variety Market moved from across the road (next door to the old Ulster Bank building) merged with the Flea Market and moved into St George’s. (originally a plant and flower wholesale market alongside a cash and carry.)


the market in trouble

In 1990 the Fruit and Vegetable stall-holders and the fish, poultry and eggs also moved Into St Georges Over twenty years ago, this red-bricked, iron-wrought, glass-covered, Victorian market building was in jeopardy. The roof leaked where the glass was broken and it was run-down and neglected and badly in need of restoration.

In August 1991 Belfast City Council (19 votes to 13) proposed to move St Georges Market to the car-park at the back of the newly restored Smithfield Market. In essence this would have been an open-air market. This was done with scarcely any consultation with the customers and the traders .

the campaign to save the Market

Subsequently, these customers and traders organised the Save St Georges Market Campaign, backed by local community groups, the Markets Tenents’ Association,(now known as the Markets’ Development Association) the local history groups and local politicians.

The action plan was to raise a petition and this resulted in approximately 40,000 signatures .backing the slogan ‘Preserving the Old Alongside The New’. These signatures told City Hall that the old building was too loved to be anything else but a market.

The Laganside area had all originally been the Markets which had consisted of ten markets-:the hay market, the fish market, the poultry market, the flower market, the livestock and cattle market, the fruit and vegetable market, the variety market, the flea market, the pig market and the potato market.

A ten-point action plan was presented to the Estates Department (now the Development Committee in Belfast City Council) and they agreed to set up a working group with the councillors, council staff, Laganside Corporation, the National Market Traders Federation and various other interested bodies.

There was a very strong public feeling about the building because of what it meant to so many people. Although it represented their livelihood to the traders, it was more than that. It was part of a tradition. It stood in the middle of an area which had been a large thriving community. Blacksmithing, leather trades, stables, pounds, butcheries, abbatoirs, bakeries and all the skills associated with food production had existed in the area. Customers’ childhood memories were tied up in the sights and smells of the area. Several generations of market families had plied their trade there. There was a strong feeling of nostalgia for the last remaining vestige of an old way of life. This was what St George’s Market meant to many people.


the restoration of the market

In 1993, the market traders and the council agreed to make an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund to restore and refurbish the building. At that time the traders were still in the market and the work was carried out in three phases allowing the market to continue to trade unabated.

The market floor area consists of approximately 42000 square feet, so this was quite an achievement in logistics. The shop units were restored. An asbestos roof was replaced. The floor was lifted and the old Victorian drainage replaced with more up-to date fittings. The building was completed in 1998.

about the Market Memories project


Now, just over ten years later, traders and customers have joined forces again and the Friends Of St George’s Market are now proud to present “Market Memories”

Through the granting of a Heritage Lottery grant and in association with Belfast City Council-:

· We plan to archive the memories of some of the major participants and protagonists in the life of St George’s Market. This will be done in association with Northern Visions and the Ulster Peoples College.

· We will cajole and inspire people to participate in a Victorian-themed weekend of Market celebrations, with local choirs, brass bands, music and street theatre taking you through the birth and progress of the building. Traders have promised to dress up and customers are invited to get into the Victorian spirit with prizes for best trader and customer costumes.

· We would like to pass on an understanding and appreciation of traditional skills, hopefully presenting them as relevant to this generation. This will be done through a season of demonstrations of skills such as linen-making, blacksmithing, traditional bread-making, urban bee-keeping, gardening etc

· We also want to encourage an appreciation of seasonal local foods, anecdotes, recipes poems and images as a legacy from the project. This will be loosely in the form of a cookery book – The Market Memories Cookery Book.
·        and
Ultimately, the aim of the project is to attract the local and wider community to participate in the life and spirit of St George’s Market.


more details of the Celebrations are on the Market Memories page on this website HERE




on the flyer HERE

on the Belfast City Council website HERE

and on the friendsofstgeorgesmarket  Facebook page
friends of st georges market on facebook


st georges market flax flowerst georges market flax flowerst georges market flax flowerst georges market flax flowerst georges market flax flower

st georges market Belfast city crest