I NOTED with great interest your recent article about the sad state of Leeds Market.
It featured the Leeds – Hunslet – lad made good, the entrepreneur Jeff Cains.
Over the years I, like many of the good people of Leeds, have witnessed the unfortunate decline of this once great icon of Leeds, and a legendary market which, at one time, was second to none in the UK.
I do remember fancying a stall there, in my youth. When I approached the market superintendent asking how many weeks I would have to wait for a stall, with a smug smile on his face he told me that it would be measured in “decades not weeks, lad”.
I suspect now if a budding entrepreneur asked the same question the reply would be “Right now and how many stalls do you want, sir?”
This is very sad, for the people of Leeds and also for the regeneration of the centre of Leeds.
There are many reasons for the decline, one of which, that Jeff pointed out, is the car park and its associated cost to use it.
You can hardly call it a car park – to me, it closely resembles a Grade I-listed bombsite from the Second World War.
It has more craters than the Moon.
Gone are the times that coachloads of customers came from all over the UK to shop in the Leeds market. It would now be too dangerous for coaches to park on it. Although Churchill tanks should not have too much of a problem!
I can recall my late parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents recounting their stories dating right back to the late 1800s of the fly pitchers, clog dancers, singers, other unique street entertainers and characters, all creating a fabulous atmosphere, attracting customers from far and wide, to where great bargains could be had by all.
Many an empire has started off in a markets, none more famous than Leeds’s very own ‘Marks & Sparks’.
No-one likes to see such a decline of this Leeds treasure – I am sure, least of all, the councillors of Leeds.
As I understand from Grant Woodward’s excellent article, here we have in Jeff Cains a professional marketeer, a man with a wealth of experience of managing very successful businesses, operating markets all over the place, and he seems willing to offer his expertise and help.
Although I have never met Jeff (I would like to), to me he is like a ‘white knight in shining armour’.
Who was it said “Never look a gift horse in the mouth”?
Jeff appears the ideal person to put the “Sparks” back into our historic heritage.
So before it’s too late, may I ask the YEP to initiate the setting up of a meeting between the leader of Leeds City Council and our local lad made good, Jeff Cains.
Winston Churchill said “Jaw, jaw, is better than war, war.”
Working together, I believe they really could put the “great” back into the centre of Leeds.
Mr S Keane, Roundhay