Grainger Market traders have revealed what they want from multi-million pound upgrades, after the beloved Geordie institution got a major boost in Rishi Sunak’s Budget.

The Chancellor announced on Wednesday that the government would fund a bid from Newcastle City Council to renovate both the historic market and Old Eldon Square.

The £26m plan, for which the government will provide £20m and the council the remainder, to protect and enhance two of the city centre’s most precious assets will see £9m allocated to help turn the Grainger Market into a “retail destination to rival the best European markets”.

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With specific details of what that cash will be spent on yet to be decided, we asked some of the site’s bevy of independent businesses what changes they would like to see.

Dave Wheeler, of Grainger CD, said: “The main bugbear for us is that in winter it is like working in a fridge. We need some new doors because standing here can be unbelievably cold.

“That is the main thing, but it all needs a bit of a refresh, some paintwork, a bit of tidying.”

Neil Partington, of Redheads Mac and Cheese, said he would want cycle parking installed so he can bring his bike to work, while colleague Lyndsay Lovejoy suggested refurbished toilets and a new seating area where shoppers can eat lunch together from a variety of street food vendors.

She added: “A new communal seating area would be great because there are so many food traders now. It can be a bit of a free for all at times and we can barely get the tables cleaned before another customer comes to sit down.”

Jake Campbell, from Indian street food favourite SnackWallah, was another who would like automatic doors installed that would help keep heat inside the market, which opened in 1835.

The 25-year-old added: “If all of the alleys were a bit more cohesive that would be better too. If each business had a sign that stuck out so you could see them as you looked down the alley that would make it look more uniform and help people walking through who don’t know what is here or where they are going. It would look better and be informative.”

Firebrick Brewery’s John Taylor has loved life in the “marvellous” market since its bottle shop and taproom opened.

He said: “What I love is the eclectic mix of people, you never know where your next customer will be from or what their background is – geographically and socially.

Firebrick Brewery’s John Taylor at Newcastle's Grainger Market
Firebrick Brewery’s John Taylor at Newcastle's Grainger Market

“And there is nothing you can’t get in the Grainger Market. You go on the high streets and they are all the same shops anywhere in the country, but here is special with all the little individual stalls.

“I know some of the old traders can be a bit glass half-empty and say it is not what it used to be, but it could still be absolutely fantastic.

“I hope that whatever is done it means that people like the butchers and greengrocers can carry on, we need those mainstays.”

Shaun Kemper, from the Newcastle Book Exchange, joined the calls for better heating to make life more comfortable for traders.

He said: “The market is not bad as it is and I would not want to change much, I know it is a listed building so it is hard to make changes.

“We want to keep the look and the heritage, but just bring it into the 21st century a bit.

“Having an advertising budget for the market would be great too, you never see adverts for the Grainger Market anywhere.”

The city council has previously suggested that new flooring, lighting, seats and maps could form part of the enhancements.

The ongoing and delayed refurbishment of the market’s roof will be paid for separately by the council, rather than through the Levelling Up cash.

Coun Ged Bell, the council’s cabinet member for development, neighbourhoods and transport, said: “As stated previously, we are keen to work with traders on ideas and will be engaging with them over the coming months to get their views.

“We are confident that the improvements - whatever they will be - will raise the profile of the market in the city and enhance the experience for traders and shoppers alike.”

£14m of the remaining Levelling Up funding will be spent on a redesign of Old Eldon Square and on the proposed pedestrianisation of Blackett Street.

There will be £1m put into digital infrastructure, such as installing public wifi across the city centre, and £1.5m in extending a low-carbon heat network.

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