WE asked our readers what they miss most about Chester's old market.

The old market had been housed in the Forum Shopping Centre since the 1960s, after the centre was built to replace the Victorian market hall which was demolished in 1967.As part of the Forum, the old market was staple of the Chester high street for decades offering a variety of products from numerous local businesses.

With its final day of trading taking place on October 15, 2022, several stalls moved to the Northgate Street development as part of the new market, but many of our readers were keen to share fond memories of the old site.

'Everything under one roof'

When asked what they missed about the old market, the variety of products that were sold by the numerous stalls were the answer for many.

Chris Brocklehurst said: "You could literally buy anything from a hoover bag to block of cheese , dress up outfits the lot, the old building certainly holds a lot of memories for alot of people and has something the new one doesn't and never will."

Siobhan Hare said: "The market itself, it had everything under one roof!"

Roger Williams said: "You could buy just about anything in the old market, the stall holders were friendly and the cheese stall even had pieces of cheese cut so you could see if you liked a particular flavour, this new place is a joke it’s just an expensive eatery with a couple is other stalls that managed to get a spot."

Indeed, the cheese stall was one of the most frequently mentioned individual shops.

Nai Connor said: "The cheese guy was the best thing about the old market."

Lisel Peake added: "Free Cheese, as a kid I thought that was amazing! Hustle & bustle great busy atmosphere chatty stallholders & amazing variety of stuff you never knew you needed."

John Roberts said, simply: "Outstanding Cheshire cheese."

There were also mentions for the sweets stalls, in particular the pick and mix, and the haberdashery, deli counters and fruit and veg shops.

'The atmosphere'

Several people also said that they missed the energy and the atmosphere of the old market.

Bob Teague said: "A market atmosphere, there's none of that in the new market."

Valerie Worrall said: "The variety of stalls and the atmosphere. The new 'market' seems sterile."

Rosemary Dodd said: "Loved the market. The atmosphere, friendliness, the stall holders went out of their way to help you. Always visited the makeup stall, fabrics, and the butchers there were fantastic."

Several people noted the distinction between the old Chester Market and the 'old' old Chester Market, remembering its cobbled walkways in the years before its nineties refurbishment.

Some were critical of the new market in their comparisons with the old, saying that it the new site was too focused on its food offerings and 'a market in name only'.

Kenneth Davies said: "I remember the older market as well and they both had everything you wanted. Not only that, they had character and lot's and lot's of stalls. Chester doesn't have a market anymore. they replaced it with a food hall and bar facilities. Why they've called it a market beats me !"

Whilst others argued that whilst the old market was a lively and bustling place during its heyday, its later years had seen a decline and the change had brought new life.

John Arnold said: "The old market had halved in size and even then by 3pm there was hardly anyone in it in its later years . So many people looking at it through rose-tinted 1960s spectacles. I was in 'the Food Hall' last night . It was absolutely packed with families and people having a lovely time with an incredible choice of delicious foods to choose from . The butcher, fishmonger, florist and all the other non-food stalls had closed at about 5pm .In the old market they'd probably have closed earlier in the afternoon through lack of custom."

For many though, the sights, sounds and smells of the old market, are inseparable from nostalgic memories, sometimes from childhood and often linked to visits with friends and family.

Catherine Arthur recalls: "Looking at the habidashery store with my mum as a kid - (she made a lot of our clothes) - I loved looking at all the different buttons and cotton reels! Years later as a teen it was all the make up the Beauty Box!"

Louise Smyth said: "My Great nana’s vice grip on my hand, I would have been 4 or 5, walking from the butchers, by the entrance from the forum, to the veg stall, from there to the cheese stall, via the buttons and zips and then back to the the pet shop. Then the good walk back home to Salisbury street, crossing over the locks onto Garden Lane and over Stone Bridge. Calling into Jarvis’s for a penny mix. Happy memories from the 70’s."

Mandi Siddall also recounted her memories of the market in the lead up to Christmas, saying:

"Christmas time was fantastic, all the stalls individually decorated, the Christmas music so different as you moved from one stall to the next, the free samples of cheese and ham, the excitement of having a bowl to put your pick n mix in at the sweet stall and the challenge to get all your favourites in without going over your money limit-even though I always did but was let off anyway, the choosing and buying of fabric to make something at home over the holidays then off to the haberdashery stall to buy matching buttons or zips and cotton-ans being introduced to my first cross stitch, the fruit stalls were lovely, all piled up high ready for the day ahead and always being allowed a few free cherry's whilst getting the weeks fruit in paper bags that were twisted at the corners, flicking through the hundreds of different cards all in trays until you found the perfect one, tea and toast in the cafe as you dumped all your bags under the table and went through your list to see what you'd missed off whilst listening to the banter of regulars and staff, watching the mice and gerbals in cages at the pet shop through the window, then one final stop at the meat stall where you got that week's meat wrapped up in paper before going out of the back and onto the bus home...that's what I miss about our old market..."