Smithfield Market

As a child I used to love visiting Tibb Street because it meant visits to the numerous pet shops along the street.  It often involved a wander into the nearby Smithfield Market which always seemed a chaotic bustling place.  The aerial photograph from 1953, shown here with the permission of English Heritage, shows how at its height the market dominated the site bounded by Shude Hill, Swan Street, Oak Street and Thomas Street.

a.  Market Office            b.  Covered Market           c.  Wholesale Fish Market 
d.  Fish Market Office           e.  Retail Fish Market

By that time the market had been there since the late 18th Century.   It is seen on the OS map of 1844 although it appears that at that time it was mostly an outdoor market.

In the 1851 Adshead Map, shown here with the permission of Chetham's Library, you can see that little has changed.

However in 1853 an iron and glass roof was constructed over the area which filled in the space between the various market buildings. 

When complete there was a wholesale and retail market dealing in fruit, vegetables, meat and fish.  The influence of the market spread into the streets around and across Swan Street into Ancoats.  There were numerous warehouses dedicated to the storage of fruit and veg and on Blossom Street, in Ancoats, an ice plant for the preservation of produce.  Ironically the ice plant in this predominantly Italian community also supported a burgeoning ice-cream manufacturing industry.

Above is a photograph of the Wholesale Fish Market taken in the 1960s,
shown with the permission of Chetham's Library.

The covered market hall was closed by 1972 and later demolished.  In 1973 a new Smithfield Market opened in Openshaw. It caters for fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers, fish, game and poultry, making this one of the largest of its kind in the country.


Some of the market buildings have survived although their functions now may make it hard for people to recognize their earlier roles.  These buildings are shown below.  For more information on them consult the City Tours section of this site.

Above and below:  The Smithfield Market Hall, on Swan Street, boarded up in 2009.

Above and below:  The Wholesale Fish Market on Thomas and High Streets.  Above is the former office building and below the facade of the market itself which now acts as the outside wall of a residential development.  The Fish Market was added in 1872

Above and Below:  The former Retail Fish Market, on Oak street, now the Manchester Craft Centre.

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