Memories of Sunderland: Holmeside Outdoor Market

In Britain, the way we live today has not been kind to traditional markets. We enjoy purchasing quality goods online, and otherwise get everything we need in supermarket chains.

These changes have made life difficult for your traditional market sellers, who relied on the everyday needs of people to sell fruit, vegetables, meat fish, sweets and other items. This has placed the concept of the traditional market, which thrived for thousands of years, in decline.

While Jacky White’s Market continues to exist in Sunderland, there was once a similar market too, known as the “Open Market” or the “Park Lane Market”. Based on Holmeside, the market was a series of alleyways under a canopy which sold all kinds of food and other goods. It was always an interesting place to look around.

The market however, was dated and by the 21st century was clearly struggling. Sunderland Council had long signalled their intention to redevelop the land for other means, including the failed Sunderland ARC Holmeside development which sought to build a new skyscraper known as the Spirit of Sunderland on the land. However, the 2008 Financial Crisis seen the development partner Thornfield Properties collapse, killing the project.

The council did not give up on its aim of redeveloping Holmeside, albeit more gradually. Despite Sunderland BID having used the facility to host an event in 2017, in the years following the struggling Market was eventually shut down.

In 2020, the Council then tabled plans to demolish many of the old market buildings, despite opposition to the proposals on the grounds of heritage. The council argued that the old buildings had “past their economic use”. However with the COVID pandemic having caused disruption it is not clear if this proceeded.

What were your memories of the Park Lane Market? Did you ever visit or shop there?