THE fortunes of Barrow Market have changed over the years since the original building was erected on the west side of the town hall in 1865.

In 2004, The Mail featured the current version, which was opened in 1971 and was at that time undergoing a facelift.

Traders, said The Mail’s report, felt the market hall was at the core of the community in Barrow and that townspeople should take a pride in it.

Mark Holmes, 50, and his brother David, 44, had run the family jewellery stall, Harts, for more than 20 years.

Mr Holmes said: “A thriving market helps the local community more than a big shopping centre because each stall supports a family so any money made is then put back into the town.

“In a big store the money goes out of the town.

“We’ve been here since 1947 when this stall was started by our grandparents, Fred and Ivy Hart.

“We know a lot of our customers by name - some send us Christmas cards, a few buy us presents."

The market was undergoing extensive renovation in 2004. Projects and property manager at Barrow Borough Council David Joyce was in charge of the market project.

He said: “The front elevation on to Duke Street is being re-clad with a red-brick effect, similar to Forum 28. The retail units on the ground floor are being updated, and the office accommodation on the first floor is being re-done as well.

“We are undertaking the project to enhance the market and the town centre.

“The market is important as it employs a lot of people and a lot of the community use it.”

Phil Bennett, 35, had been trading in the market hall for eight years as Bennett’s lighting.

He said: “There is a really friendly family atmosphere here and customers feel comfortable to be able to browse without feeling any pressure."

Looking back over the market’s history, The Mail stated that, by the 1870s, the old site had 247 stalls.

When built in 1971, the new market in Duke Street cost £600,000 and was opened by the Queen, while the old market was demolished. The market has been in and out of council ownership over the years.