The Market Forum History

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The Market Forum

The Market Forum

Torquays Premier Pannier Market

Torquay Market,
Market Street,
Devon TQ1 3AE.
Get directions via Google Maps

market forum history

The plans for Torquay Indoor Market were formed between 1848 to 1852.

During this time:

  • David Livingston was busy crossing Africa had not met Stanley yet
  • Charles Dickens wrote Pickwick papers
  • The Bronte sisters Charlotte and Emily were busy writing their novels
  • Crimean War - Britain France Turkey against Russia
  • Population 2000 in Torquay and the railway had not arrived
  • Queen Victoria throne Prime minister Earl of Aberdeen (Crimean war not popular)

The reason for a new market was that the old market which was situated in Torwood Street and known as the Rotunda had fallen into disuse and the local traders hawked their there goods around the streets. Many people in the town felt this was unacceptable in a town that prided itself as opulent and fashionable as any in the country.

In 1848 a meeting was held and that a new market to be built in a more central position.

The enormous cost of £6000 pounds was beyond the means of the ratepayers and a private company was formed to do the work. Torquay market company was born and it seeked the approval of parliament via a private members bill to build a new market hall.

Building started in 1852 when foundation stone was laid in October and was completed September 1853 making the 270 foot long building an eleven month build.

At first it was not a success as first traders refused to pay for stalls and carried on hawking around streets. The market company therefore went back to parliament to put forward a private members bill to charge the hawkers a toll high enough that they would prefer to use the market rather than pay the tolls. In January 1855 a William James was sent to prison for 14 days for hawking bootlaces without a licence.

Apart from being a market the building as been used for many things over the years At Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee the market hall was used for a dinner for the aged and poor the Palk family provided 60lbs of beef and the organising committee provided 24 gallons of ginger beer the hall was decorated and a Italian band played all evening.

In the 1860s the market hall was used as a drill hall because of events on the continent aroused fears of an invasion.

There was a cinema in the area were the market café is situated and at a later date that same area became a garage work shop South Devon garage that had showrooms next door and below that area was the Ice Factory you can still see the outline of the sign.

We come now to the late 1960s when there were 3 fishmongers, 5 butchers, 1 pork butchers, 2 bakers, 1 egg shop, 1 greengrocers and Pascoes tripe shop and here are a few names that long standing Torquay residents will remember : Dudmans fish, Llewellyns bacon, Wills bakers, Fozdyke`s grocers, Watts eggs, Reeds butchers, Billy Gill butcher. All long gone but B B Browns shoe repairs is still there.

The market hall is grade two listed building meaning you cannot alter the outside of the building and the council have to approve the colour of paints used from their lists. Inside you may alter with planning approval but certain features must be saved meaning that some features are covered but haven`t been removed.

The main features that the conservation officer was interested in were the cast iron columns, the ceiling trusses, certain woodwork and the York stone floor.

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