Town’s Market Celebrates its 40th Anniversary
Luton, Bedfordshire, UK – On the 27th January 2012, Luton’s popular indoor market will celebrate the 40th anniversary since it opened as the first phase of the development of the then-named Arndale Centre back in 1972. The market plans to mark the occasion with a day of festivities, culminating in the cutting of a ceremonial cake at 2.30pm by Luton’s Mayor, Cllr Don Worlding and Zena Skinner the Luton-born former BBC television celebrity chef who took part in the original opening ceremony.
1972 was the year that not only saw the opening of Luton’s favourite market; Edward Heath was prime minister, the average weekly wage was £58 and television shows such as ‘Emmerdale Farm’ and ‘Are You Being Served?’ both hit the airwaves for the first time.
Luton’s current indoor market was built to replace an existing covered market hall that fronted both Cheapside and Waller Street which itself was constructed in 1925 to bring an outdoor market under cover from its previous existence in George Street, Market Hill, Park Square and Park Street. Luton has had a market for over a 1,000 years and although it was mentioned in the Domesday Survey of 1086, historians have found clear indications that it was in operation well before the Norman invasion of 1066.
Dave Gibbs, manager with Town and Country Markets, the company now responsible for the day-to-day operation of the market, said: “It’s very heartening to see that the market is still thriving some four decades on – albeit within a very different retail environment.”
“Back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, market shopping still dominated the high street – but the advent of the superstores and larger shopping centres has of course changed the nation’s shopping habits. Many markets throughout the length and breadth of the UK have closed over the last 40 years – but others such as ours in Luton have adapted to the changes in customer demand and we’ve grown stronger as a result.
“During the life of our market, we’ve seen trends move towards ready-meals and then as households have become more aware of the importance of healthy eating and developed more adventurous tastes – often guided by celebrity television chefs, we are seeing a return to shoppers buying fresh produce - which is something that markets excel in.”
“On behalf of all of the traders and staff here in Luton, we’d like to offer our heartfelt thanks to everyone that’s supported us throughout the last forty years – long may it continue!”
40 years ago, Luton-born BBC television celebrity chef Zena Skinner created a special ‘Market Cookbook’ containing a number of recipes that shoppers in the market could easily prepare at home. This included dishes such as the aptly-named Town and Country Pie, Polish Cake and a Family Winter Salad that offered means of producing a salad-style meal with winter vegetables in the days when the seasonal availability of fresh salad was confined to the summer months. As a tribute to this recipe book, during the celebrations, many of the market’s hot food stalls will recreate Zena Skinner’s recipes – adding their own international and contemporary twist.
Keith Ashleigh, the owner of the market’s fishmonger, added: “I’ve been trading in the market for nearly 28 years and there’s a really good vibe here. There’s a sense of community – both with the traders and shoppers. I think that it’s fair to say that the market is really at the heart of the town.”
Currently home to over 100 independent stalls, the market has a broad offering that covers everything from food to fashion – including a selection of internationally-themed, freshly-cooked meals and specialist stalls catering for the town’s diverse and vibrant population.
As a thank-you to its customers, Town and Country Markets will also be launching a promotion that will see scratchcards being handed out with every purchase during February and March. The cards will contain prizes of Luton Market shopping vouchers worth anything up to £400 and one ‘Golden Ticket’ that will give the lucky winner a range of prizes and the opportunity to win a massive £40,000 cash prize in a game of chance that will take place in the market on Saturday 31st March.
Located at the Church Street entrance inside The Mall, the market is open Monday to Saturday, 9am till 5pm. More information, including details and the terms and conditions of the scratchcard promotion are available at www.tcmarkets.co.uk
Notes for News Desk:
1972 Launch Brochure
The original 1972 launch brochure, including the Zena Skinner Market Cookbook can be viewed here: