Film ID:
YFA 3475



Visitor Tabs


This colour film with sound portrays a day in the life of the Victorian market hall in Huddersfield which, when the film was made, was due to be demolished and replaced by a new building. The film looks at the 'comings and goings, the people, and the place'. The history of Huddersfield's market since 1672 is told, and the film examines the typical daily routine of the stallholders, interviews some of them, shows the market hall's facilities and surveys the attitude of stallholders and residents to the demolition of the building.

Inter-title: 'Portrait of a Market. Huddersfield Video & Cine Club copyright 1970'

The film opens with outdoor shots of the market hall from different angles - from a high vantage-point and from the street level - while the narrator explains that the hall is soon to be demolished and the market to move to a new building.

Captions set against wrought iron gates: 'Huddersfield Cine Club presents' and 'Portrait of a market'.

The market hall attendant, just before 7 a.m., is seen opening up the deserted building and indoor shots show him walking through it to the switch room to turn the lights on. Jazz music accompanies the narrator.

Close-up outdoor shots of boxes of fruit, vegetables, meat and bread arriving and being unloaded. Lorries are parked in the street, a man sweeps the pavement, and indoor shots show trolleys being pulled through the market. Coal is shovelled into the boiler in the boiler room. Close-up shot of the building's cornerstone, laid in 1878 by alderman David Sykes.

Film of an artist's impression of the market as it was in the 17th century - charter granted by Charles II to the lord of the manor, John Ramsden, in 1762 for a Tuesday market to be held 'for ever'. Late-Victorian photographs of the marketplace and the shambles are shown, and photographs of the building when completed in 1880.

Shots of the stallholders coming into the building ('people proud to be called market-folk'), opening the shutters of their stalls and displaying their wares: books, bikinis, fruit and vegetables, menswear, meat. A butcher sharpens his knives, another displays black puddings; a jeweller opens his shop.

At 9a.m., the iron gates are opened and the customers enter. Various outdoor shots of transactions in Shambles Lane. A fishmonger writes prices of the day's wares on his window (lobster tails, dressed crab, potted shrimps). Indoor scenes of items being set out in a ceramics shop.

Film taken from a high point inside the market hall shows the division of the hall into two levels, and the roof of girders and wrought-iron latticework is shown from below. Assorted indoor shots of the upper and lower floors of the market, with footage of some of the stalls. The narrator discusses the original purposes of the different floors. Some good close-up footage of people's clothes, hairstyles and glasses. The goods for sale in a drug store are shown.

Mr Dyson, the manager of a sweet shop, is featured and interviewed. He explains that although he does not own the stall, he expected to run it as a family business, and that his wife and daughter assist him. The narrator contrasts this with the increasing number of 'big, multiple companies' moving in across the town.

Across the way, a comic and newspaper shop is shown - 'Monster World', 'Creepy', 'Bugs Bunny' and 'Race for the Moon' are on display. One man flicks through a girlie magazine, to the narrator's 'tut, tut, tut!'

'Dr' Dan Holroyd's stall, selling the 'healthiest drink in the world', is featured. A crowd of men women and children crowd around and buy glasses of the drink for 4d a glass. The recipe is kept in a sealed envelope until the business changes hands. Close-up shots of different people drinking the drink.

The next stall is 'H. Carter for hosiery'; then a colourful carpet shop; then Coletta's ice-cream stall. Miscellaneous shots of the inside of the lighter and airier Victoria Street end of the hall, and of the shoppers wandering around.

Indoor shots of a butcher's shop. A young male butcher descends the stairs to an area where a number of other men are preparing chickens for the shop. The wall and ceilings are totally covered with posters of half-naked women. Narrator: 'How on earth do they manage to keep their minds on - or should it be off - the birds?!'

Various indoor shots of children in a joke shop selling exploding pens, masks, skeletons, and toy mice and spiders. More footage of a fishmonger's, a jeweller's, and the greengrocer's on the Shambles. Some black, Asian and Mediterranean faces are picked out of the crowd and shown.

Highlighting the need for storage space, the film shows how some stallholders have made improvised warehouses on the first floors of their premises. A stallholder of 73, Minnie Fowler, remembers when pilferers were taken into a back room and hit with slippers or a belt by the men on the market - there was 'far less' pilfering in those days. Hanson's bookstall and Winpenny's tailoring stall are then featured.

Various indoor shots of the caf? on Shambles Lane - women drinking tea, eating sandwiches, chatting and smoking. Footage of the 'primitive' canteen facilities for the staff - women pouring boiling water into teapots, reading and chatting.

The new market hall under construction is shown in a series of outdoor shots, taken from a high vantage point. The local chairman of the Market Traders' Federation is interviewed and explains that the traders were reluctant to move and were apprehensive about it. The chairman of the Markets & Fairs Committee takes a stroll around the market and surrounding streets, reminiscing about when he used to visit as a boy. Shots of the coats of arms of Charles II and Victoria above the main entrance; the clock tower (from outside and inside, showing its working parts).

Footage of the stalls on the Shambles at Christmas time - wreaths, trees, fresh fruit, walnuts, pecan nuts and peanuts are sold; Christmas carols play in the background.

The film returns to the Shambles as the working day draws to a close. Young men try to sell off perishables at discount prices. The clearing-up process is shown - cardboard boxes are crushed in the back of a refuse truck, the stalls are closed up, and the floors are swept. It is six o'clock, an alarm sounds, the remaining indoor stalls are closed and gates are locked. The streets are deserted and the attendant ends his day as he began, locking the main entrance.

Caption set against scenes of the demolition of the hall: 'The makers of this film gratefully acknowledge the cooperation of the Markets & Fairs Committee and the Traders and Staff of Huddersfield Market. Commentary by Keith Harrison. Produced by Jim Kenworthy & David Whitworth'. As a bulldozer shifts rubble, Huddersfield residents can be heard voicing their opinions: 'big mistake', 'Huddersfield is losing its Victorian image', 'it's a shame to pull it down'.

The film closes with an aerial view of the open space where the building once stood and the caption: 'The end'.