HUNDREDS flocked to the opening of Eastleigh market, which provided enough room for up to 100 stalls in the heart of the Hampshire town.
Opened by the Mayor of Eastleigh, Councillor John Davies in September 1972, he said: “I hope this is the beginning of a new era for Eastleigh and crowds will continue to come into the town itself.”
Sure enough, the market, which took place in Leigh Road car park on Thursdays, garnered a warm reception and began attracting big crowds. Some local shopkeepers even reported record sales figures in the weeks following.
Town and Country Markets, the organisers, enquired into also operating on a Sunday, although local shopkeepers weren’t so pleased with the proposal, and demanded the council reject the plan.
Fishmonger Danny Gilbert said: “Surely with shops operating a six-day week, late night shopping and a Thursday Market, plus a market on Bank holidays it cannot be said that the public need or want to shop Sundays.”
In despite of resident’s protests, the Sunday market was given the go-ahead in March 1981.
The following year, the traders had to move to a new town centre trading site - just a couple of yards away in Leigh Road Recreation Centre.
It wasn’t long before they had moved again, this time to the civic offices car park.
In 1993, the number of people attending the Sunday market had dwindled, and it was forced to close.
Eventually Eastleigh Borough Council took control of organising the Thursday market, and even introduced one on Saturday, both of which are still enjoyed by many shoppers today.