The new Birmingham Wholesale Market officially opened its doors with a celebration of the market’s traders and 850-year history.
Accompanied by a steel band, bagpipes and even a Chinese lion dance, Mark Tate, chairman of the Birmingham Wholesale Fresh Produce Association, declared the site open for business alongside BBC presenter Chris Bavin and Birmingham City Councillor Ian Ward.
Many of the nearly 90 tenants on the new market site were in attendance, with one trader saying the upgrade had already improved footfall since their move across Birmingham to the Witton site in May.
Chris Taplee, of Mack Birmingham, said: “This place is magnificent, I’ve been doing this for 20 years and I’m now I’m looking forward to the next 30.
“Trade has picked up, we’re getting people from Wolverhampton now, someone from Liverpool came the other day. It’s the shot in the arm we needed.”
Addressing the audience at the opening, Mark Tate said: ‘I’d like to thank all the traders who supported my decisions throughout the process, our belief has driven us to this magnificent building today.
“I have a request that goes out to all the people of Birmingham and the Midlands, we need your support, to keep buying our fruit and vegetables, and meat and fish from the wholesale market.”
BBC presenter and former flower wholesaler Chris Bavin added: “These places are integral to their people and community, they are hugely important. Here’s to a fruitful and blooming future.”
One of the highlights of the ceremony was an eloquent ode to Birmingham’s ancient market origins from Birmingham historian and broadcaster Carl Chinn.
Chinn praised the role of the market for the city’s growth into a Victorian industrial powerhouse since its 1166 founding by Peter de Bermingham, near the where the Bullring market is today.
“Birmingham was the city of 1000 trades, but it could never have claimed that title without traders," Chinn said.
“You bring our people together I’m really honoured to be with you today and I want to say a thank you to the traders, you and your predecessors made our city, without you it would never be the Birmingham we are.”