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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Abingdon Street Market Gets TLC And A New Role

John Woodman

Advance news of the revamped structure familiarly known as 'Abingdon Street Market' indicates its reopening at the end of this week following extensive internal remodelling by its new owners. Gone is the staid tired avenues of stalls with less and less in the way of foodstuffs to be replaced by open spaces and food courts together with independent artisan offerings and brightened interior.

The structure boasts a 'Belfast Truss' roof which eliminates pillars for the most part allowing wide open plan areas with access mainly intended from an upgraded eastern side. Originally a police station - the pediment over the Abingdon Street access retaining its original constabulary role, the building then went on to become a motor car showroom in the 1920s, before morphing into a town centre market,

An inbound Balloon car gently takes the sharp curve into Abingdon Street from Clifton Street with the ever impressive frontage of the GPS as backdrop. Photo taken by Colin MacLeod.

A tudor style facade facing onto Abingdon Street added a touch of class alongside the still very impressive structure of the former General Post Office - itself awaiting a new role. Of especial note is the very busy tram stop directly outside the market entrance which provided a convenient boarding point for successive generations of daily shoppers heading back to their homes with fresh food for their families. The tram stop with its usual green roundel uniquely remained on a ornate cast iron pillar and although the stop was without any shelter, the immediately adjacent shop fronts provided basic cover during rain showers. This wasn't a particularly major hardship for passengers waiting for their tram home, as the service frequency was 4 minutes for much of the day. Ironically the tram terminus in Talbot Square did provide a classic enclosed waiting room for passengers, but was little used as there was a stationary tram awaiting departure most of the time.

Two Marton Vambac cars pass on Clifton Street. Tram drivers were forbidden to pass on the curve immediately in front of the GPO as insufficient clearance would incur collisions. Fortunately this ruling was carefully adhered to. Photo : John Woodman

Below : Another Balloon car heading to 'Marton Depot' after its no doubt busy shift on Promenade 'Extras'. Photo John Woodman

The Council are to be commended on revitalising this anchor venue and investing in a dramatic upgrade of a long familiar town centre building which will dop much to kickstart (one hopes) a fulsome retail regeneration of Abingdon Street. I will recall with fond memories classic stores such as Batesons with its diverse off of toys of all kinds. Hunters mens clothing store with its unique full size rendition of a mounted horseback rider overlooking the busy corner of Clifton Street and Abingdon Street. These and many more independent outlets filled the street pavements with shoppers week in week out. And not forgetting the sepulchre ;like confines within the GPO Building with its long row of manned counters offering diverse services. The steady rumble of ever passing trams added further distinction to this quadrant of the town centre.


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