New Bristol market to bring ‘new life’ to the Bearpit

The organiser of a new market in Bristol’s Bearpit says she wants the event to bring new life to the area. The market launches in July and it will be the first of four days between July and October.

If it’s a success, the Bearpit Market at St James Barton roundabout will then become weekly. Organiser Indie says she wants to use the space in a positive way and support local businesses, but it’s also her personal mission to make the area a space that can be enjoyed by the community.

“I grew up in a flat very close to the Bearpit and it has always been a big part of my life and childhood. There has always been a special place in my heart for the Bearpit and it’s a special place for a lot of people in Bristol.

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“I decided I wanted to use the space in a positive way and bring new life to it and bring the community back together. We all know the Bearpit has had quite a notorious reputation in the past so I’m hoping we can overcome that and take away that stigma citywide.”

Bristol City Council cleaned up The Bearpit three years ago at a cost of £250,000. It was closed off to the public for six weeks in 2019 as the council took action to evict squatters who had been living in the former bus, abandoned storage units and shipping containers.

Indie says: “The council and police have done incredible work making the area safe and they are happy for the market to go ahead. There were issues around the stallholders feeling unsafe at the previous market and we want to ensure the safety of our stall holders at the new market is at the forefront of what we do.

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“The difference between this market and the one before it is that this one doesn’t have any overnight structures. The problem before was that there were often people squatting in the overnight structures.

“At this market, stallholders will come and sell their wares and leave at the end of the afternoon. We won’t be selling any food and drink either because we want to support the local businesses in the area and create footfall so people visiting the market can go and eat and drink locally in Stokes Croft.”

The first Bearpit Market is July 10 and it will be followed by markets on August 14, September 11 and October 9, each running from 10am until 4pm. If these are successful and trouble-free, it will become weekly.

Indie says: “We’ve had lots of different applications already, varying from jewellery and artwork to plants. The point of the market is trying to take away the restrictive barriers people can have to sell at markets so it’s pretty much open to anyone as long as they meet certain requirements.

The council and police have worked hard to clean up the once troubled Bearpit
(Image: John Myers)

“I want small independent traders to use it as a platform to advertise their business and get their name out there. When it becomes permanent I’ll also be using the profits to purchase tables and covers for stallholders.

“The new Bearpit Market will be a positive use for the area and the response I’ve had so far has been very encouraging. A lot of people have said it was about time the area was used for something positive and people are really wanting to see that area come back to life.

“I understand what happened before and why but I will be taking a different approach with this market. The goal is bringing opportunities to the community, footfall for local businesses and the safety of our stallholders and the public.”

Any local businesses interested in booking a stall at the market can apply here.

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