THE traders, architects and engineers behind Queensgate Market have gathered to celebrate its 40th anniversary.
Hailed by some as an eyesore but seen as an architectural wonder by others, the building saw the unveiling of a plaque by the Mayor of Kirklees, Julie Stewart-Turner yesterday.
Demolition of the old Market Hall began in 1967, a year before the construction of its replacement, which opened on April 6, 1970.
One of the first traders at the new building was John Fowler, who ran a hardware store and in 1973 became president of the market hall tenants association.
He said: “We negotiated with the council over the day-to-day running of the market and there were lots of social events.
“In those days we were very much a community. Most had come from the old market and we all knew each other, it was like moving to a new home.
“There’s no denying it was such a different building.”
Bennie Dyson, 84, of Netherton ran his biscuits and sweet store for four years in the old market and 16 in the new.
He said: “There were a fair few problems in the early days. The windows didn’t open and we went through a phase when there was scaffolding all over the place.
“It is nicer now but naturally there probably aren’t as many people here now as then.”
The market has enjoyed new signage, celebratory banners and a photographic exhibition in time for the party thanks to A1 Signs and banners of Lockwood.
Personal opinion aside, there is no denying that architecturally the creation was something of a modern wonder, utilising saddle-shaped “hyperbolic parabloid” shells, each costing £3,959.15.
Their creation defeated the problem of uneven loads such as snow, which could be catastrophic for similar 60s designs.
The groundbreaking shells have been feted by the Twentieth Century Society and as recently as 2007 the concrete was declared to be in as good a state today as it was in its first year.
In an exhibition of photographs accompanying the 40th birthday celebrations, assistant engineer Dave Turnbull can be seen on the roof taking a measurement.
Speaking yesterday he said: “Nobody had ever done anything like it before.
“We had only seen the like of it in books and here it was, people were being confronted with it in Huddersfield which was not known as a place for breaking new technology, it was just so new.
“Towers were constructed next to the shells as you had to get them in line and level; there was so little tolerance – if you got it wrong the glazing would not fit.”
One aspect of the preparations which could have benefited from more attention were the plans for a 260-seat restaurant.
The prospective tenant backed out when it was realised quite late in the day that as the building would not be opening in the evening it was not the greatest business proposition.
It has since been used by the university and council.
John Grigg was a project architect who took over the later phases in the market’s construction.
He said: “This is so much of its time, it is unique. It is the only design of its kind not just in the UK but the world and looking at it now I think it’s weathered better inside than out.
“The old market was wonderful and naturally people were attached to it, but the artwork and murals that were featured on the redesigned market would not look out of place on a new building today.”