The team behind the award-winning Altrincham Market plan to open the doors of the Mackie Mayor in mid-late September
For the past couple of years, the team behind Altrincham's award-winning European-style food hall, Market House, run by Nick Johnson and Jenny Thompson, has been working on a plan to breathe new life into the former Smithfield meat market on Swan Street.
The historic Grade II listed Northern Quarter building was built in 1858 as the flagship meat market for Manchester, but closed in 1974 when the city centre wholesale markets moved to Openshaw.
It has now been renovated by Muse developments who have painstakingly converted the ‘Mackie Mayor’ into a contemporary, two-storey market space capable of holding 400 people - compared to Altrincham Market's 180.
The design - drawn up by Buttress Architects - will mirror that of the other remaining former Smithfield market building nearby, now the Manchester Craft and Design Centre, with a staircase leading to an upper gallery.
In a low-key announcement on their Facebook page, the company – whose strapline is ‘passionately regional, fiercely independent, not available online' - wrote:
'We hope to open our doors in mid-late September with a softly, softly approach as we bed-in, so please treat us gently at first until we have learned a little more about the subtleties and intricacies that come from breathing life back into this truly amazing building.
'As with Market House we will operate a strict no-bookings policy so that you can turn up on the spur of the moment and pitch-in....which is the way we like it.
'At Market House we can seat 180 people inside and we now feed nearly 10,000 people each week. At Mackie we'll have seating for over 400 people so the quest for a seat might be a little easier, we hope.'
As is the case in Altrincham, bench-style seating will be surrounded by various market counters and kitchen units selling produce, street food, coffee and booze. Traders already confirmed for the project include: Fin Fish Bar, run by Alti market’s Tender Cow, Little Window from the people behind Honest Crust Pizza, Black Jack Brewery, Reserve Wines, Wolfhouse Kitchen and French rotisserie chicken specialists Nationale 7.
Plans approved by the council seem to show one larger corner unit marked out for a wine bar, while another corner has been given over to a bar and ‘snug’. There will also be covered external seating along Goadsby Street.
Keep on eye on the Mackie Mayor Facebook page for updates.
The Mackie Mayor, completed in 1858, was built as a meat market and is one of only two fully intact former Smithfield Market buildings left standing (the other is Manchester Craft and Design Centre). The market was once the UK's largest such complex.
Smithfield closed in 1974 when the city centre wholesale markets were foolishly moved to Openshaw, depriving the regional core of much vitality. Subsequently, the building has been a shop mobility centre and a skateboard park in a scheme to get ‘the kids’ away from wrecking Cathedral Gardens. That didn't work out very well.
When the Mackie Mayor became a skate park...
Headline image credit: Flickr/Dullhunk