Pontefract’s bustling market has undergone a striking transformation, with a fresh new look greeting visitors following the completion of a £1.136 million refurbishment project. The market, which drew in a remarkable one million visitors last year, is the latest beneficiary of an extensive £6.5 million investment aimed at enhancing the district’s markets. Funding approval in 2020 paved the way for the renovation of four markets as part of the comprehensive Markets Improvement Programme.

The comprehensive refurbishment of Pontefract Market encompasses both its interior and exterior spaces, featuring new flooring, wiring, lighting, ceilings, and shutters. Structural enhancements, including roof repairs to ensure water resistance, have been implemented, while a meticulous redecoration of walls, ceilings, and frames provides the market with a fresh and vibrant appearance.

Beyond its physical makeover, Pontefract Market now boasts feature lighting outside, accentuating the Grade II listed market facade designed by Joseph Wilson in 1860 and inaugurated by former Prime Minister Lord Palmerston. Local ward councillors have also directed funds towards restoring the iconic red telephone boxes, adding to the market’s heritage charm.

Dean Goode, the longest-serving market trader with an impressive 43 years of service, expressed his delight with the council’s investment. Operating the sole butcher’s stall, Goode praised the transformation, stating, “It looks lovely. The market has been brought into the 21st century, and it’s a joy to come to work.”

He said: “It looks lovely. The market has been brought into the 21st century and it’s a joy to come to work.

“Before, the indoor hall looked derelict but the council’s transformation has made it bright and modern. It’s spurred the traders to update their stalls. I’ve spotted new signs and freshly repainted walls inside the units. I’ve been busy redecorating my stall to match the new market look!”

The indoor market hall, housing a diverse array of businesses from award-winning delicatessens to real ale sellers and cafes, has experienced a resurgence. Currently accommodating 22 traders across 34 units, the hall now boasts only two vacant stalls, a testament to the revitalized appeal.

Cllr Michael Graham, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Economic Growth said; “It’s brilliant to see the market hall and the incredible work that has gone into transforming it, to give traders and shoppers the best facilities.

“We took the decision to invest in its future because an independent review we commissioned in 2018 found that, with some changes, the market could continue to be sustainable.

“Markets play a significant role in bringing shoppers to the town centres and they contribute to our aim of growing the local economy and providing employment opportunities to residents.”

Pontefract’s market holds a unique position as the first to unveil the new Wakefield District Markets identity, shaped through consultations with both traders and the public during the summer. This contemporary branding reflects the market’s modernization while paying homage to its rich history.

As part of the ongoing market revitalization initiative, Pontefract follows in the footsteps of Normanton, with Castleford set to complete its transformation in Spring 2024. Simultaneously, work on South Elmsall is slated to commence around the same time.

For entrepreneurs keen on securing one of the two available units at Pontefract Market, the markets team is ready to provide information and support. Interested parties can reach out via email at letstalkmarkets@wakefield.gov.uk or call 01977 727196 to explore this exciting business opportunity.