It’s been years since I’ve properly looked around the Grainger Market. Working up near the Civic Centre, it’s just too far to pop there and back in my 30 minute lunch break and weekends are usually so busy taxiing the girls to their various social engagements. So when the blogging opportunity arose to pop down as a VIP on their first late night shopping event I was keen to head down and see the market in action after dark.
Late Night Shopping
As Abigail has a regular swimming lesson on a Thursday, myself and Imogen decided to head into Newcastle on the bus and meet them at the market later on. It’s not often I get one on one time with my big girl so this was a really exciting treat for us. So weird heading into town when everyone else seemed to be heading out!
Arriving at the market at 5pm we easily found the VIP desk where our red wristbands were ready for collection. The tickets for this were priced at £5 per person (although kindly we were offered this complementary) and they had sold out before the event. An email had instructed me to book the air raid shelter tour in advance online and our tour was scheduled for 6pm. As someone who has lived in the north east all my life I had beer heard of an air raid shelter at the market so was looking forward to this. I’m a sucker for a bit of local history!
Before our tour slot we had a potter round the market. Imogen loves crepes so we grabbed a plain sugary number from La Petite Creperie. As we chatted to Julien, one of the owners, I mentioned we were heading to Disneyland Paris soon. Julien then gave her a great lesson in French and before the crepe was served she had learnt to say please, thank you and good night! Tres bien!
We decided to join up on a market history tour with the lovely Freda one of the City guides. As soon as I saw her I knew we were in for a treat as I’d been to her talk ‘Bridges of the Tyne’ with the girl guiding trefoil guild which was fascinating! We were the only ones waiting so we had a personal tour! So many facts!!!! Such as the market is nearly 200 years ago and started as a meat market.
The reason the weigh house door is so wide is because the cattle were weighed in the market before being sold to the public and due to no refrigeration at home people shopped daily and the floor was just sawdust.
As we made our way round the tour, she was full of knowledge from pointing out Marks and Spencer penny bazaar (the oldest and smallest M&S) which encouraged people to browse with its ‘admission free’ slogan, rather than need to feel obliged to buy. We chatted Farnons which used to be based on both sides of Nun Street (so called as the market location previously housed a monastery) and where I remember buying my brownie uniform from back in the 80’s. Freda pointed out some amazing irregular choice Disney themed shoes in Scorpio.
She pointed out the animal figures above the pet shop from the 1920’s, a Newcastle coat of arms in one of the exits (there are 15 entrances/exits!) and she loved the name of the tobacconist ‘The Cheap Tab Shop’ which apparently isn’t even cheap. That’s reverse marketing for you!
Air Raid Shelter
Soon it was time for the air raid shelter tour which was brilliant and bizarre in equal measures. I had imagined the shelter to be one room but it was massive and full of original war time memorabilia. As it was dark my photos are pretty pants. Imogen was a little freaked out by all the cobwebs which did remind me of a bush tucker trial. The fab city guide who’s names escapes me as brilliant bringing to life the past and pointing out all the features of the shelter such as the fabulous en suite (ie a metal bucket with newspaper as loo roll) . It was noted that Newcastle was actually one of the least bombed cities in the country so the shelter was never actually used! If you ever get the chance to visit on a heritage open day take it up!
i’d spotted that the bead and jewellery shop VJW was hosting workshops to make your own Christmas tree earrings for £5. Imogen loves anything crafty so she really enjoyed her first taste of grown up jewellery making using the tools and wearing a fetching pair of safety goggles when cutting the wire.
She loved this and we had a great time chatting to the other lady on the class. Victoria (of VJW) was very encouraging and explained the process step by step. Imogen doesn’t have her ears pierced so made a clip on pair which she has worn ever since. Bet Lynch eat your heart out!
It was time to meet up with Abigail and Alan who had a nightmare trying to battle the traffic to meet us. We headed up to the balcony where the fab illuminated Christmas letters from Coco Lumiere were located. It was cramped up here but we got a good vantage point of the market and the Lindy Bop dancers who were doing their thing on the dance floor below. We met the large plastic owl who is moved around the market to keep out the pigeons and took some good shots of the market below.
We were all feeling peckish and decided to pop to the pizza by the slice place. At £1.80 for a huge slice it was great value but unfortunately didn’t make us want to rush back. The tomato sauce was really watery and just didn’t compare with some of the fab pizza places in town, but at that price filled a hole without breaking the bank.
For desert the girls had cookies from French Oven and Alan took home a Russian cake to have at home.
I really enjoyed our festive evening in the market and hope they run the event again next year. As a fact geek the tours made it for me! Exploring the market and understanding the importance of its heritage really drive home that places like the Grainger market need to be used or we will lose them!