Calls for historic market to return to Wigan borough town centre

Scores of people have signed a petition calling for a town’s market to be resurrected.

By Gaynor Clarke
Monday, 2nd May 2022, 12:30 pm

Ashton had a thriving market on Garswood Street for more than 100 years, offering a wide range of items and attracting many shoppers each week.

But the shipping containers which once housed stalls were replaced with gazebos in 2017 and the market has since disappeared, with the land now used as a car park.

Now calls are being made for it to be brought back, in a bid to boost trade in Ashton and encourage people to visit.

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Aydean Simm, who runs Totally Wicked Melts and Creations on Garswood Street, has created an online petition asking for the market to return.

She has fond memories of visiting bustling Ashton market with her grandmother as a child and would love to be able to go again.

She said: “The town now is so quiet since the market’s gone. I live in Newton-le-Willows and every Friday there’s Earlestown market and a car boot on a Saturday. If I go there, it’s ram-packed, you can’t move, and it’s full of people like back in the day in Ashton.

Ashton Market in 2018

"It’s a shame. It’s just a car park now.”

Aydean, 32, believes there is demand for a market from both local people and those from further afield, saying a man recently travelled from Bolton to visit and was disappointed to find it was not there.

While some people prefer to shop online now, she thinks the market would have loyal customers and also provide a day out.

In an appeal to council chiefs, she said: “Listen to what the local people want. I speak to everyone, even the old market traders, and they want it back.”

Crowds of shoppers flocked to Ashton Market in 1972

The plea from Aydean and other traders in Ashton appears to have come as work is taking place behind the scenes to resurrect the town’s once-popular market in some form.

Ashton’s three ward councillors recently met representatives from the Artisan Market Network and Teenage Markets to discuss holding an event there, following a popular festive market.

Coun Danny Fletcher said: “There is no reason why Ashton market can’t be successful given how successful the Christmas market was in December. It was full of traders, full of local people and the footfall was amazing.

"With rising food costs and inflation in almost every sector, I do feel markets have an important role now more than ever.”

He has already signed Aydean’s petition calling for the market to be brought back permanently.

Coun Fletcher said: "I know the feeling is strong for the market. It’s part of the identity and character of Ashton. It is a historic market town. Without the market, what is our appeal? It’s about bringing that back.”

The market continues to be listed on Wigan Council’s website as taking place on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

Aidan Thatcher, the council’s acting director for economy and skills, said: “We value our local town centres and are currently exploring the options on offer to us around bringing the market back to Ashton. We hope that announcements will be made soon.”