Our challenge in Bolton was how to update the large Victorian
open-plan Market Hall; a revitalisation that was needed to drive Bolton’s
future as a regional shopping centre.
The Grade II listed building is an example of a purpose built
retail environment from the early 19th century, replacing the
medieval market place when the Town Hall was built on the site. Architecturally
its character is defined by the light and airy quality of the spaces and its
wide structural span. We were determined
to find a workable compromise for accommodating modern retail units, blank
boxes with 7 metres of facade, while maintaining the special quality of the
is often the case, our job here was also about engaging with members of the
local community, many of whom were against the scheme, and key stakeholder
groups, listening carefully to their concerns and responding to them.
Designed by GT Robinson in 1855, Bolton Market Hall was then the
largest covered market in the country. It was redeveloped at the end of the 19th
century and again in the 1930s. In the 1980s Chapman Taylor designed a large
shopping mall (Market Place) to the north and inserted new kiosk shops within
When Warner Estate purchased Market Place, the Market Hall was having a
negative impact on it and the surrounding streets; it was an underperforming
asset for the Council (the freeholder). Sensitive adaptation, including retail
units for high street retailers (which the buildings in the rest of the town
centre were not able to accommodate) and revitalising the facades, was needed
to provide a viable future.
It was Chapman Taylor, acting as client advisor to the developer,
who got us involved in the limited competition in 2003, which we won. The motivation
for the project was both economic and regenerative. The brief was for an
intensification of the existing retail and for the addition of a new building
on the adjacent site of a former fish market.
Bolton Market Hall in 1833 photographed by James Frith
How we worked
Throughout the project we were involved in briefings, discussions
and debate with council members and conservation officers, in tandem with the
developer, our client. This gave the council a proper appreciation of what the
challenges were and the knowledge and context to be able to oppose the populist
view not to do anything. The existing tenants were concerned about their future
and gathered a petition of around 70,000 signatures to oppose the scheme.
We also had to persuade English Heritage and the conservation
officer that our proposal was both right for the immediate and medium-term
future of the market hall and central Bolton, but that it could be reversible
in the longer-term if necessary.
We took the scheme to planning, and then to Stage E as packages of
trade information. It was procured using design and build and we were retained
by the client. Chapman Taylor worked for the contractor; we monitored the work
of both Chapman Taylor and the subcontractors throughout construction.
Working with the client’s agents we created the Tenant Design Guide
and obtained listed building consent for all the tenants’ shop fronts.
Making it happen
Our scheme is a direct response to the nature of 21st
century retail. The existing service infrastructure has been upgraded and a
significant amount of new retail space provided at ground and first floor, with
two new anchor stores. Careful collaboration with the services engineers, WSP,
has led to it having a lower energy use than a typical new shopping mall.
Our design makes the most of the cast iron roof structure and the
top light that pours in. New shop fronts have been added, in a simple rhythm of
piers and balustrades, set back behind cast iron columns. New servicing routes
have been created, using the existing basement and the adjacent delivery bays
of the shop.ing centre. Minimal interventions were made to the exterior to
highlight and improve the points of entry and the whole external envelope was fully
restored, including the numerous small shop fronts.
The project provides Bolton town centre with the retail anchor it
so desperately needed, makes a positive contribution to the surrounding streets
and secures the future of one of Bolton’s most important buildings. Working as
part of a large team we benefitted from the expertise of many other
professionals who had experience in the retail sector; knowledge which we then
went on to use in the project for the Portsmouth Northern Quarter.
delighted to have attracted such a high calibre of retailers to Bolton through
the restoration of the Market Hall. The new space will provide another major
attraction to the town, allowing us to operate on two levels; maximising the
space available and offering more shops to the people of Bolton. At the same
time, people will still be able to see and enjoy the stunning architecture of
the old Market Hall, combining traditional with modern, side-by-side.’
Councillor John Byrne, Bolton
Council’s Executive Member for Development
‘This is a fine example of a
Victorian Market Hall that has now been given a new lease of life through the
stunning restoration project. This is
one of many regeneration initiatives ongoing across Bolton as part of a long-term
plan that will attract more than £1 billion in new investment and create almost
20,000 jobs in key growth sectors.’