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Bolton Market refurbishment

Sensitive restoration of a Grade II listed food market in a busy town centre

Bolton Market is one of the UK’s oldest food markets, with many Grade II-listed elements, so Willmott Dixon’s refurbishment of the facility was a high-profile and sensitive project locally.

The scheme included a full refurbishment of the existing indoor market, with the creation of a new outdoor market and a new feature market entrance.

The fish, meat and veg halls remained operational throughout the works, making this a challenging project logistically.

Challenges and innovations

To create a temporary market during construction, Willmott Dixon suggested re-use of second-hand shipping containers. These were so successful that Bolton Market requested all 26 containers were retained on site for reuse and adaption to permanent lettable units, now used for start-up businesses. This also saved £100,000 from the project’s costs.

Our team identified major cost savings in the construction of market stalls, by assembling individual elements of the stalls ourselves. In the event, this package (worth £225,000) was placed with a local Bolton subcontractor, A1 Shutters.

We employed a soft landings approach throughout the project with clear protocols that defined roles and responsibilities, on-going maintenance requirements, and an excellent handover and aftercare service following project completion.

"Willmott Dixon took time to understand the client’s needs and provided a design that met business needs while reducing maintenance costs." Joanne Ivison, Senior project manager Bolton Council


Sustainability features of the project include:

  • Solar photovoltaic panels which will reduce carbon emissions generated by the market by 23 tonnes a year
  • £10,000 a year savings through more sustainable building services
  • Low maintenance LED lighting
  • 65% of supplier spend within 10 miles of the site.


  • One of the UK’s oldest food markets, with many Grade II-listed features
  • Logistically tricky town centre location
  • Reuse of shipping containers for temporary market cut cost, and has become a permanent feature of the market
  • Reduced operating costs thanks to sustainable energy features, including photovoltaic panels




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