Construction specialists Urban Group (York) Ltd has completed a six-figure project on Darlington covered market, transforming facilities for the traders and visitors alike.

Phase Two of planned works to the iconic Victorian market, situated between High Row and Horse Market, started in August 2022 and has just completed.

This transformational project is part of a successful masterplan from operators Market Asset Management Darlington Ltd and Darlington Borough Council for the venue to grow as a food, retail, and live entertainment destination.

Urban’s Interiors Division has renovated the shop front fascia and entrances, added a new shop floor café, new public and trader toilets on the ground floor and new toilets to the basement of the market, which remained open throughout the revamp.

The work has also incorporated a full renovation of the abandoned basement which has been transformed to create a Prohibition-themed bar and live music venue named The Vault, which is due to open as early as Spring 2023.

Darlington town centre has been home to a covered market since May, 1864, where the very first purchase recorded was leg of mutton bought by the local landlord. Over 150 years later the covered market is still proving to be a popular with shoppers, with the recent renovations ensuring it is ready to become a key regional destination providing a wide range of retail, food and leisure facilities.

Urban Interiors’ Operations Director, Kevin Keogh said: “This has been a fascinating job for the team. When we were stripping and repurposing the basement for the 1920s themed bar, we uncovered the old cells from the former police station that used to be on the site.

He added: “We wanted to try and maintain as much of the heritage as possible with exposed metalworks still evident as part of the interior, and we’ve incorporated elements such as the old banana racks that were used to allow the imported fruit to ripen that had been left behind by traders from the 1960s.”

MAM’s Darlington General Manager, Michael Harvey said: “The Phase 2 development is already having a positive impact and it has been great working with Urban Group (York) who have managed to keep disruption to traders and customers to a minimum while carrying out such a transformational scheme as part of MAM’s commitment that Darlington Market is a place where people love to shop, eat and drink and enjoy entertainment.”

Councillor Jamie Bartch, cabinet member for economy for Darlington Borough Council, said: “The market is rightly considered one of Darlington’s jewels and the work that has been carried out by Urban means that it shines brightly once again. I hope people take the time to visit and see for themselves the improvements that have been made and support the established traders and the new food and drink outlets. The Vault, in the cellar, is an amazing transformation of an unused space.

“The aim has always been to bring the market up to modern standards, while retaining its traditional charms, and I think the work carried out by MAM and Urban has achieved that.”

As part of the contract, five new jobs were created in the Darlington area and, wherever possible, Urban used local sub-contractors and suppliers for the works.

The next chapter comes amid exciting times for the market and follows the successful first phase of the revamp which opened to the public in August 2021.

It saw one third of the shop floor transformed into a street food scene with independent food traders offering cuisine from around the world from purpose-built units and a large communal seating area.

There is also the Market Tap bar and an events stage.

As well as its amazing global cuisine and independent retail offering continues to shine as an events venue.

Popular events have ranged from hosting the North East final of the prestigious Young Traders Market to its much-loved Pease Pudding events on the first Thursday of the month in Darlington Market Square. It also regularly welcomes charities and hosts the hugely popular Food and Drink Festival each year.