Markets have always played an important and vibrant part in the life of the people of Newcastle and have made a valuable contribution to the economy of the area and continue to do so.
When King John made Newcastle upon Tyne a borough in 1216, there were already markets thriving in the town. For the most part these markets were strung out along the Great North Road. This was the town's main thoroughfare and came into the town by the Tyne Bridge, near the site of today's Swing Bridge. The markets included a herb market, which existed there in 1723, and beyond this was a fish market opposite the Guildhall.
The number of specialised markets fell over time but as the town grew beyond its walls, new markets sprang up. It is likely that the demolition of the town walls along the river front encouraged the growth of the Sunday Quayside Market.
Charles Hutton in 1770, gave details of various aspects of life in the town. He recorded that the thirty thousand inhabitants of the town was "provided with all kinds of provision from the very plentiful markets of the town, here being used annually above 5,000 beeves, 10,000 calves, 143,000 sheep and lambs, with swine, fish, poultry, eggs, butter in a prodigious abundance".
The development of Grainger Town in the 19th century included the magnificent Grainger Market which opened in 1835. The Greenmarket, from humble beginnings as a street market, was resited as an indoor market at Green Court near the Grainger Market. The Greenmarket closed in 2011.
The arts and crafts fairs and Farmers' Markets have been other recent innovations, bringing the outdoor market experience back into the centre of the city.