Indoor markets for Tunbridge Wells

0 have signed. Let’s get to 2,500!


Tunbridge Wells Town centre is dying, but of course it is not alone. Covid-19 has played its part, but the challenge of online retail was killing stores long before the Pandemic.

Unless we see innovative changes in retail, little is likely to change even as we wipe out Covid-19.

Huge retail spaces, such as British Home Stores and Top Shop are ghosts of a retail era never to return. British Home Stores has now been dead for nearly 5 years leaving an ugly scar in the centre of what was an elegant town centre.

On Saturday 13th February 2021, my wife and I were walking past the the dead BHS site to be greeted by a single market street trader selling fish. The site of the stall really lifted our mood. A touch of life, interest and colour right outside a retail graveyard.  We asked the vendor why more stalls were not there and were told only 5 stall spaces were allowed and he was occupying  two of them, and we would have to wait two weeks before we see him again.

And then we had a vision!! 

What if the BHS site were to be an indoor site packed with market traders selling fish, fresh fruit and vegetables, craft, coffee, music  etc. etc., not just every two weeks but every single day.

Markets were how town commerce began, hundreds of years ago, and they are still with us, but in Tunbridge Wells you could walk the streets and not see one…even before Covid.

Indoor markets are hugely successful in London (Borough, Greenwich, Covent Garden, Spitalfields, Brick Lane etc), and most continental cities, but in Tunbridge Wells we have none…just huge empty spaces waiting for a retail miracle.

The advantages are breathtaking..

  • Just for a start they provide an affordable town centre presence for local farmers, traders, crafts, caterers and even musicians.
  • They provide testing ground for innovation, bring people together and unlike retail dinosaurs such as BHS, they can adapt to fashions and seasons in a heartbeat.
  • Browsing a physical market provides ultimate challenge to browsing the Internet with our physical senses and an open mind replacing search terms.
  • Markets are addictive, noisy, colourful, fun and immediate. There is no need to wait for a courier bringing you even more cardboard.

But top of the list of advantages is that they bring footfall that does not challenge the likes of Marks & Spencer, Fenwicks and Wilkinsons, it brings more people past their windows.

And now, thanks to the local media, we have this and also this

Barney Lodge