One of Belfast’s most historic districts is set to come alive again with the first new independent weekly outdoor market in 400 years starting on April 16.
Bank Square, located behind Primark, will be the location of the new Folktown Market - a farmer’s, food and artisan market – running every Thursday selling fresh fruit and veg, meats, cheeses, coffee, gourmet goodies, freshly prepared food as well as locally made crafts.
The Department of Social Development spent £3 million renovating Bank Square – an area dating back to the 1600s which is comprised of Bank Street, Berry Street and Chapel Lane. Improvements included the installation of natural stone paving, landscaping, improved lighting, free WI-FI, street furniture and art work.
Now the local community, Folktown CIC, will bring new life to this underused city centre space.
Folktown CIC Director Joby Fox said: “This market will help to connect all areas of the city and to breathe vitality and vibrancy into this space. Bank Square is a part of Belfast that many people haven’t been to and some weren’t even aware that it existed.”
The market will feature up to 40 traders with a focus on locally grown produce. There will also be entertainment for people to enjoy including music and other activities.
The journey to bring this market to Bank Square involved lengthy negotiations to obtain a licence as under the original charter granted by King James I, the historic rights to operate markets in the city, including those held on private property or indoors, belong to the city council.
“A market is an ideal way to invigorate the economy and to create a buzz. Research shows that for every £1 spent in a market, the local traders get £1.75. This market should bring a great benefit to the small local shops, the historic pubs and the great restaurants in this area,” Folktown Director Sophie Rasmussen said.
“It is fantastic to see the realisation of the Folktown Market initiative. It is a great opportunity to show what we have on offer here, and it is poised to bring many more people into the area”, said Stephanie Watson, manager of Havana Bank Sq.
It also offers the opportunity to bring to market unique and interesting food and to assist small traders and producers.
“When I started my business I found that it was very hard to get somewhere to trade. This is a fantastic opportunity, unlike anything else, for arts, crafts, artisan and shoppers alike to express their talents. Belfast just keeps getting better,” Mark Douglas, founder of Krazi Baker said.
The project has been realised with support from DSD, Awards for All and The Ireland Funds.
Social Development Minister Mervyn Storey MLA said: “The new weekly Folktown market will bring increased footfall and activity to the Bank Square area and act as a catalyst for the regeneration of this historic part of the city centre. In addition, Folktown Community Interest Company is currently developing proposals for a programme of events to be held in Bank Square during 2015/16.
“I want to wish them every success with the market and their efforts to promote Bank Square as an exciting, multi-use, shared spaced for all sections of our community. I hope to visit the area later in the year to witness, first hand, the impact of my Department’s £3m investment in the area and the transformation which will undoubtedly result from Folktown CIC’s good work.”
For more information about the Folktown Market go to www.folktownbelfast.com