Markets have always played an important part in the life of the people of Newcastle. The Grainger Market is in the heart of the City and is an integral part of Newcastle's Grainger Town. The Market is a Grade I listed building (a protected building as historical structure) and has a lettable area of 38,000 square feet making it one of the largest market halls in the country.
Richard Grainger (where the market got its name), builder and developer, planned and constructed some of Newcastle's finest buildings and streets during the 1830's including Grainger Market, Theatre Royal, Grey Street, Grainger and Clayton Street. Together with John Dobson, an architect and engineer, their development transformed the town. Richard Grainger was said to 'have found Newcastle of bricks and timber and left it in stone, stone that still stands today' , which refers to the market.
The Grainger Market was the Town's first indoor market, situated between the New Gate of the old Town Walls and the newly laid out Grainger Street. At the time of its opening in 1835 it was considered the most spacious and magnificent market in Europe and the Evening Chronicle described it as 'the most beautiful in the world'. To mark its opening, a grand dinner gala was held, complete with an orchestra and attended by 2,000 guests. A painting of this event by Henry Perlee Parker (1795-1873), can be seen in the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle.
The market still housed the world's smallest Marks and Spencer's store, opened in 1895, "the last surviving example of the [Penny Bazaar] shops that gave birth to a legend in retailing" the Mark & Spencer (M&S). The Weigh House is the original facility used by retailers and customers to check the weight of their goods, which was a must for the people to check the weight after they bought the goods, but it now seems to be used mainly for checking body weight! The notice above the 10p. charge sign says, "Please do not bring food or drink into the Weigh House."
The Market is largely in its original condition except for the latticed-steel arches in the roof, which replaced the timber roof destroyed by fire in 1901.