Leeds Kirkgate Markets
8-34 George Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire LS2 7HY
For me, living in the city centre of Leeds certainly has its perks. Since moving here two months ago, I feel that I have discovered some of the best experiences Leeds has to offer. From coffee shops to bars and from clothes stores to eateries, being only a moment away from great independent businesses is just one of the reasons I love to live here. On the subject of great independent businesses, living next door to Leeds Kirkgate Markets has probably come to be one of the biggest conveniences for me.
I’d love to say I planned to live next to this brilliant emporium all along, though that was not the case. Uncovering the brilliance of Leeds Markets turned out to be one big coincidence, albeit a happy one. It was only after I had moved in and woke up one morning to discover that the milk in my fridge had started to resemble something that can only be described as cellulite. After a dash to the market in my joggers (not pyjamas at all, honest), I found not only milk but quite literally any day-to-day item you could ever hope to purchase.
This beautiful Grade I listed building first opened in 1822 as an open-air market, selling an array of goods not too dissimilar from what its stalls sell today. Moving on to the late 19th century and Leeds Markets was to become the founding location of Marks & Spencer. Somewhat ironically, Marks & Spencer plan to return close to their original location in the form of a 196,300 square feet store as part of the new Eastgate Quarters shopping centre, which is to be built close to the market in 2015.
Goods sold at the outdoor open market stalls vary from day-to-day, depending on whether you visit on Asian market day or flea market day. Besides that, goods being sold are generally similar to those sold at the indoor market stalls. Inside the market, stalls remain the same year-round selling fresh fish, fruit and veg’, meat, deli and bakery products. Perhaps some of the most useful stores are the ones selling exotic foods, spices and oils that are very rarely found on the high street. In the market you will find stalls selling exotic fresh goods as well as Polish, Chinese and Russian supermarkets. I find that these stalls usually provide everything I need to make exotic dishes. Some of the non-food stalls that can be found here include haberdasheries, electronic shops, tailors and repair shops. There are also stalls selling discount household goods and hairdressers/beauty salons.
One of the best times to visit is a Saturday morning or afternoon. Wandering through the row upon row of stalls that range from fresh fruit and veg’ to a falafel bar, and I defy anyone not to get a rush from the eclectic atmosphere. The hustle and bustle of a successful and thriving market place is infectious.
I take a trip to my local butchers to buy some butter. Whilst I am there I don’t think I’ve ever experienced someone talk so passionately about lard. He goes into great detail about the processes the butter has been through, from location to technique to finished product. Of course you don’t get a backstory with every product sold – after all these people have businesses to run. However, it’s nice to know that when asked the staff don’t say, “erm, I’ll go find out for you”.
One of the biggest excuses for not paying custom to our independent stores is the convenience and price factor. However, with everything under one roof and goods sold at prices supermarkets simply can’t compete with, need I say more? Oh wait, I forgot to mention that the fresh quality of the goods sold here is second to none.
Leeds Kirkgate Markets opening hours: Mon–Sat 8.00am–5.30pm