Video: Sheffield’s Castle Market frozen in time before demolition

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The first thing you sense is the eerie silence.

Where once market traders sold their wares and customers bargained over their baskets, there are now only shells of stores, discarded boxes and memories.

Castle Market before demolition

Castle Market before demolition

Clocks stand still, frozen in time forever. Everything is cold, dusty or greasy to touch.

Goods - from fake hair to packets of seasoning, shrivelled bananas and Christmas decorations – languish on the shelves or the floor.

The market’s decommissioned lift slumps at the end of its ropes, a service corridor is in absolute darkness.

And the last farewell messages from traders, scrawled on the walls of the stalls where they worked, are a stark reminder that this was once a bustling corner of Sheffield.

Castle Market before demolition

Castle Market before demolition

This is the last glimpse inside the closed Castle Market.

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The Star was given exclusive access to the historic building, which closed last November as the new Moor Market opened, to capture its final days before it is knocked down in the end of an era.

Only a handful of people, apart from staff working with contractors Kier Asset Management, have been inside since the doors closed for good.

Photographers and artists have visited to record the building’s notable features, including its wooden banisters and historic tiles.

Charities have also taken some items, such as mannequins, for their stores - although a red Santa sledge was too big to remove and sits near the entrance.

The odd mouse has been seen and a bizarre request to hold a zombie event there was turned down for health and safety reasons.

Gary Wright, project manager for Kier, said many unusual items had been left behind in the market.

“When we took control of the site there were boxes of Christmas decorations, greeting cards, a vast amount of keys and even fruit and vegetables left behind,” he said.

“If you go into the old meat and fish market, you can still smell meat and fish.

“People who have visited the market since its closure, if they knew the market before, can’t believe it is like time has stood still, because large parts of the inside remain unchanged.”

Inside the meat and fish area the stalls still stand, some peeled apart so the rusty fittings can be seen, others as though they were still in business.

Signs proclaim ‘we have moved’ and the Castle Chippy interior is covered with names.

A faded copy of The Star shows it was nominated for chippy of the year.

The old T Pickles stall thanks its loyal customers with a banner message, at Stuart’s Fruit and Veg there are still the highlighter pens used to mark up prices.

In a staff room there are discarded trolleys, and a poster reads, ‘All traders’ equipment should be removed in seven days’.

It may look like the market has not changed much since it closed. But there has been much preparation work going on behind the scenes.

One of the first jobs was a basic clean-up, as some perishable stock had been left behind, and the paperwork to gain vacant possession.

Survey after survey - from topographical to bats, ecological of the culvert that runs near the site, and even exploration for unexploded bombs - has been undertaken.

South Yorkshire Archaeological Service helped with evaluations and a photographer recorded the building in detail for the Sheffield archives.

The building is also ‘riddled’ with asbestos, and one of the biggest jobs was to assess that.

Trial pits and holes have been dug to test the thickness of the concrete - vital for demolition purposes.

It is a complex process for a complex building, parts of which were created in 1928 as part of the old Castle Hill market, with the Castle Market opening in 1959 with further adaptations.

A contractor is to be chosen to carry out the demolition after the tender deadline at the end of the month, and it is expected pre-demolition work will begin in December.

“When people hear the words ‘start on site’ they think a bulldozer will trundle straight in,” said Gary.

“What it actually means in the case of Castle Market is that we can hand over to the demolition contractor, at which point they will start planning for the demolition, including how the building will be brought down safely.”

The demolition work - expected to take 11 months – will begin with asbestos removal, then a ‘soft strip’ to pull out everything that shoppers will remember from the market. Everything that can be recycled will be.

Then the super structure will be demolished down to the concrete, so a careful excavation of the Sheffield Castle ruins underneath can be completed in future.

Gary said a major consideration were the ruins of the former castle as well as shops nearby which are staying open, and there may be some road closures during the work.

The market’s retaining wall will also be kept as it holds back the hill on which the castle was built.

He added: “The site is very complex - it is not as straightforward as demolishing a simple two-storey square building.”