An exterior view of Chelmsford's indoor market

Chelmsford’s indoor market is one of the city’s hidden gems. The vibrant market is a one-stop shop for everything you need – groceries, garden plants, furniture, antiques or even a quick haircut.

This 800-year-old market has a rich history that is integral to the evolution of Chelmsford, from a medieval town to the modern and colourful city it is today.

Here are five reasons why you should visit Chelmsford’s indoor market today:

#1 Fresh, high-quality products at reasonable prices

Unlike famous London tourist traps, Chelmsford market is not a place for overpriced souvenirs or £12 “Insta- worthy” ice cream cones.

Instead, the seventy-odd stalls in the market offer quality food and ingredients, household products, arts and craft supplies, custom brick mini-figurines, and more at reasonable prices. Here you can get everyday essentials without breaking the bank.

The market also hosts an antique and second-hand market every Thursday. This is where you can find collectable items ranging from war memorabilia, vinyl records to vintage jewellery, and more.

#2 Reduces your carbon footprint

Many of the products sold at the market are sourced and made locally. This helps to shorten the supply chains, reduces waste and is generally better for the environment.

Buying loose goods also means you are using less plastic packaging and can tailor what you buy to what you need. Chelmsford Wholefoods, for example, offers ethical and sustainable packaging for their products. Regular patrons often bring their own containers when shopping for the variety of herbs, nuts, muesli, and spices offered.

A selection of Chelmsford Wholefoods dried fruits and muesli on display at Chelmsford indoor market
A selection of dried fruits and muesli for a healthy, vegan or vegetarian breakfast

#3 Supporting local small businesses

Chelmsford Market is the heart and soul of the community. Despite the hustle and bustle, you’ll find welcoming, friendly faces who are always pleased to see you and share their expertise, be it gardening tips or how to make a mean roast.

Many of the vendors are family-run businesses that have been passed down through generations. G.C Smiths, now one of the remaining butchers in the city, was established in 1981. Presently, the shop is managed by second and third generation family members.

Sadly, the COVID pandemic has heavily impacted small businesses all over the country, including the market. A great way to improve the vibrancy of our markets and high street is to shop locally.

By supporting small businesses, you are generating a sustainable local economy and giving back to the community. Research conducted by the UK Government has shown that for every £10 spent locally, £3.85 is recirculated throughout the country, contributing to the national recovery.

#4 International culinary experience

Among the market’s main attractions are its food offerings. Whether you’re looking for a quick workday lunch or some al-fresco dining, there is something delicious for everyone.

Lek’s Thai Food has been operating for 20 years and is well known for serving freshly made Thai and Southeast Asian dishes in Essex. Adding to the market’s ever-growing selection of food vendors is Maura’s, offering homemade bread, pizza, and Italian patisserie.

Halal food is also available for patrons. Curry in Hurry serves four varieties of curries every day and Damascus offers authentic Syrian and Lebanese dishes. There are vegan and vegetarian options available from all the food vendors.

#5 Accessible location

The market is located within the High Chelmer Short Stay Multi Storey car park, right next to High Chelmer Shopping Centre and Bell Meadows. You can reach the market via car or public transport. Additionally, bike hangars were installed recently to encourage people to cycle to the city centre.

Opening Times

The indoor retail market is open from Tuesday to Friday from 8.30am to 4pm. On Saturdays, the market is open from 8.30am to 5pm It is closed on Sundays and Mondays, except in December.

High Street Market

The High Street market is an extension of the retail market. It takes place in Chelmsford High Street every Friday and Saturday, with a limited number of vendors on Tuesdays and Sundays. Here you can find an array of street food, freshly caught fish, and unique plants and flowers. Find out more about the High Street Market here.

More information on the market and how to sign up to be a trader can be found here.

By Charlotte Maltby

Charlotte writes stories about recycling and waste, parks, economic development, local democracy and planning.