ACCRINGTON'S long-awaited new outside market has been unveiled to the media and a select band of traders and business people.
The completion of the £1.2m kiosks, pavilions and stalls on Peel Street has prompted a big sigh of relief from traders who have had to man a row of temporary open-air stalls on Broadway and Blackburn Road since last August.
They will be able to start selling their goods on the new complex from a week on Tuesday.
The president of Hyndburn Chamber Trade, Mr Michael Carney, said he was delighted with the design of the new market and the craftsmanship which has gone into the scheme.
He added: "I just can't wait to see the stalls operating and bustling with people. For a long time we have suffered, for the most part in silence, because of the disruption caused by the construction work. But we would see this scheme as absolutely vital for the future of the members of our association.''
Shoe stall owner Peter Crook said: "Conditions on the stalls on Blackburn Road were particularly bad. There was no protection at all from the rain until they put up scaffolding to support them.
"The situation was quite bad at one stage. Business fell by something like 70 per cent. Then we were involved in a dispute about rents, which has now been resolved with the help of the Market Tenants' Association. This new spot will certainly be much better.''
Fruit and vegetable stallholder Duncan Allton said: "Trade declined quite a lot when we moved onto the temporary stall but we managed to rebuild it to a large extent. Change is never easy but this new place is definitely a quality job.''
The new stalls, which will accommodate 50 traders, replace the previous outside market on Broadway. This site, with its umbrella-style roof, which was constructed in the 1960s, was demolished last year.
The new location on Peel Street means that the outside market returns to the site it originally occupied in 1868, when the Market Hall first opened.
At the beginning of next month, The Mayor of Hyndburn, Councillor Mrs Sandra Hayes, will be the special guest at a launch ceremony for the new stalls.
This will involve 2003 balloons being launched into the air, each containing the words Shop at Accrington Market.