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Doncaster Corn exchange 'fullest it's been for years'

Left to right are market traders who have recently relocated to Doncaster Corn Exchange, Gail Goodwin, Joanne Carline, Derek Blacklaws, and Greta Deinton
Left to right are market traders who have recently relocated to Doncaster Corn Exchange, Gail Goodwin, Joanne Carline, Derek Blacklaws, and Greta Deinton

It's been surrounded by scaffolding for over a year - but inside it is fuller than it has been for a long time.

Doncaster Corn Exchange is in the middle of a £1 million programme of work which is designed to restore it to its former glory.

Doncaster corn exchange

Doncaster corn exchange

Full repairs are being made to the weather worn masonry and the roof of the Grade two listed building. Scaffolding went up in 2016, to be there for up to two years while the work is carried out.

To make it look more attractive, it has been surrounded by boards depicting the history of Doncaster, painted by the graffiti artist Keith Hopewell, aka SPZero76; and Sam Walsh, or Kid Crayon.

Keith grew up in Hyde Park and studied at Doncaster art college before moving to Bristol for university. Now aged 40 he’s worked for some of the world’s biggest brands and his street art can be seen in New York, Sweden, Japan and London.

The modern art they created last year on the hoardings of the Corn Exchange tell the history of Doncaster from its Roman Danum days, up to the present day.

Despite the work going on on the outside of the building, the corn exchange is fuller inside than it has been for years.

Businesses re-located into the building late last year, as work started to revamp the nearby wool market.

Traders say it means that the Corn Exchange is now 80 per cent full. But they are concerned that some people may not know that it is open, because of the scaffolding that has been in place since 2016.

Among those who have moved into the Corn Exchange is Greta Deinton, aged 52. Greta has been trading at Doncaster Market for 36 years.

Greta, from Bentley, recently changed her line from women's hosiery, to workwear. Her stock of tights has been replaced by high visibilty.

She said: "We've all been here since December after we moved over from the wool market. We like the building and we think its lovely.

"But people think that the scaffolding means its closed - that is wrong and we are open here as normal.

"We want to customers to come in here as its a lovely old building which I think is now 80 per cent full."

Gail Goodwin, aged 62, from Wheatley has been at the market for around 15 years, and is another recent arrival at the Corn Exchange. She does sewing alterations to soft furnishings and curtains from her stall.

She said: "The corn exchange has filled up nicely, but we'd like to make more people aware that we're open. I think some people see the scaffolding and think it is closed.

Joanna Carline, aged 34, has also been working at the market for 15 years, working at the cafe bar near the entrance of the Corn Exchange.

She said: "It's nice and central, but people need to know that we're open."

The Corn Exchange was built in the 19th Century at the heart of the market area. It was designed to be a concert hall as well as a market building and Elgar conducted the London Symphony Orchestra there in 1909.

End of an era for Geraldine

For long serving Market Trader Geraldine Connor, it is the end of an era.

Geraldine is looking at retiring from her Corn Exchange stall, 14 years after setting up at the site selling ladies knitwear and accessories, with her closing down sale already underway.

She said: "I've always been in business, but I came here when I saw that there was a gap in the market for what I'm selling.

"Initially, I started selling knitting wool, then I did a designers course and started selling knitwear through county shows.

"I did that for a long time, but eventually I got to the stage when I had had enough of the travelling up and down the country. It was time to do something else, so I found me niche here in the market.

"But I'm 75 in March, and I think its time to retire. But I will miss all the people and the customers that I've built up over the years."