Work has begun on transforming the indoor market hall at Bolton Market as part of a £4.5 million redevelopment.
Contractor Willmott Dixon has started to strip out the old market stalls within the East Hall, which was occupied by non-food traders.
Work will also commence this week on refurbishing the hall’s roof.
The internal work to strip out the stalls is expected to last around two weeks, while the roof refurbishment will take approximately 12 weeks.
After the stalls are removed, preparation work will commence on replacing the internal roof lights.
Externally, scaffolding has been erected around the hall to enable the replacement of roof tiles and waste will be disposed of in skips.
Shoppers may notice increased activity around the East Hall as the works are taking place, but the market is operating as usual and there should be no disruption to traders.
Traders from the non-food section of the indoor market moved in to temporary units on the outdoor market in February and are still offering the usual mix of footwear, bags, make-up, hair accessories, knitwear and electrical goods.
Shoppers are being reassured that throughout the work the fruit and veg, the fish section of the market, and shops attached to the market will remain open for business.
Other improvements that will take place to the market include: introducing additional indoor food stalls and a seating area; refurbishing the roof on the fish market; and repairing the roof over the hall which contains the fresh fruit and vegetable traders.
Traders are expected to move back in the East Hall before Christmas, and work to the car park and servicing area will finish in 2014.
The car park on Moor Lane will also be open as usual but the car park on New Street is no longer operational due to the construction work.
Leader of Bolton Council, Councillor Cliff Morris, said: “Traders from the non-food section of the indoor market have been established in their temporary outdoor units for some weeks and the East Hall has been out of use during this time.
“Shoppers will start to notice more activity around the hall while the roof is being refurbished and the internal section is gutted. However, we would like to reiterate that the market is still open for business while the refurbishment is underway.”
Willmott Dixon was appointed as the main contractor for the project through the North West Construction Hub which aims to deliver a long-term collaborative approach to developments.
Since being appointed, the company has held a successful sub-contractors’ open day which attracted interest from a number of local firms. They are currently in the process of appointing a range of sub-contractors for the project.
Bolton Market opened in the 1930s and is one of Britain’s oldest food markets. The market has a growing reputation as the premier food market in the north of England, and it was also recently showcased on BBC Inside Out for a project that it runs on getting people to eat healthily.
It has won a number of awards including Best Food Market in the BBC Radio 4 Food and Farming Awards 2011; Best Indoor Market 2010; and Tourism Retailer of the Year 2009.
Up to three million people visit the market annually. The indoor and outdoor market is open Tuesday and Thursday to Saturday, 9am to 5pm. The car boot market is open Sunday, 7.30am to 2pm.