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The History Of Our Lovely Centre

Our beautiful building in the heart of the northern quarter had an unusual former past as it previously housed Smithfield Fish Market, founded in 1875. In 1978 it was agreed that the fish market would be transformed into a craft village due to competition from the brand new Arndale Centre. News of the craft village attracted lots of interest from various craftworkers, from jewellers and furniture makers to potters and weavers. It was a place where craftworkers could create and sell bespoke, handmade pieces and since opening in 1982 we are still inhabiting the historic building and championing contemporary craft and design over 30 years on.

For our 30th anniversary we undertook a Collecting History project to collect and share stories from MCDC’s past. Jan Jones submitted her story to the blog:

“When I was a little girl in the 1950’s my parents had a greengrocer’s shop in Middleton which also sold “wet fish”! During the school holidays my father used to take me with him sometimes when he went to the market at the start of the day. I remember having to get up very early and drive in our old van and trailer into Manchester to buy the fruit, veg and fish. I remember the fish market the most because of the smell but also because I would occasionally be given sweets or a threeprenny bit by the nice stallholders… Now I am still a regular visitor to the MCDC and the Northern Quarter generally- I love the fact that some bits of old Manchester are being put to such good use and not demolished. Although the loud hustle and bustle of the old market may be a thing if the past (exhibition launches an exception!) the themes of abundance and exchange are still alive and well inside the Centre.”

01Markets, Smithfield Market, Manchester, Start of retail fish market from Oak Street, Creator Kay, W, 1966 copy 02Manchester. Manchester Craft and Design Centre, Oak Street, Creator City Engineers Department, 1982 copy 47 Scan009 Scanned Image 30 Scanned Image 32

Come visit us and marvel at our magnificent fishmarket, over 30 years on and we’re still the place to make, see and buy contemporary craft in the North West.