Specific dates are detailed on the: Timeline of Bingley History.
In May 2012 Bingley celebrated the eight hundredth anniversary of being awarded its first Market Charter. The granting of the Charter elevated the status of Bingley to that of a Market Town with important implications for its subsequent growth and development. Bingley Market obtained its Charter before Bradford (1251) and before records show a market operating in Leeds (1258)
In this article our historian Alan Cattell traces the key events and dates for Bingley Market Hall and Butter Cross since 1212. Alan has given permission for content from his book Bingley and Surrounds – Forgotten Moments from History to be replicated in the article.
What was a Butter Cross?
Originally market trading was carried out around a “butter cross” which was a type of market cross associated with English market towns and dating from medieval times. Its name originated from the fact that the cross would be located at a local market place, sometimes near a church or a manor where people would come to buy and sell locally produced butter, milk and eggs. In Bingleys case the original market is likely to have been held in the churchyard as was customary elsewhere (Dodd 1958 Bingley). The fresh produce would be laid out and displayed on the circular stepped base of the cross.
Design of crosses varied from place to place, but they were often covered by some type of roof to offer shelter to traders and customers, although the roofs were mostly added at a much later date than the original cross that they covered. The 1966 Grade 2 listing of the Bingley Butter Cross states that although its actual date is uncertain, it was possibly 13th Century in origin. The roof was however added in 1753.
The First Market Charter
On 19th May 1212 King John declared:
by the Grace of God know ye that we have granted and by this our Charter confirmed to Maurice de Gant that he have one market at his Manor of Bingley every week on Sunday. So nevertheless that the same market be not to the injury of the neighbouring markets. Wherefore we will and firmly command that the aforesaid Maurice and his heirs have the aforesaid market in the aforesaid manor of Bingley for ever well and in peace, freely and quietly with all liberties and free customs belonging to such market pertaining as is aforesaid.”
The statement above was intended to do a number of things:
- Establish the day on which the market would be held
- Ensure that a new market town could not be established too close to an existing one. A limit, usually a day’s worth of travelling to and from the market, for buying or selling goods, was established as a rule of thumb. This was done to try and ensure fair practice.
- Ensure that the person to whom the Charter was granted and their heirs in perpetuity ran the market in an orderly, fair and equitable manner.
The Second Market Charter (Or Ammendment)
The fact that there is little or no documentation during the medieval period specifically relating to the market would point towards the fact that it possibly satisfied the needs of the local community and the above requirements.
A Second Market Charter was granted by William and Mary in 1693. This related to holding a market on Monday each week and is likely to have been an amendment to the first charter as these were more common than entirely new endowments. As a result the main elements of the original Market Hall were constructed following the Second Market Charter. The exact date of its construction is not known but it is reasoned that this must have been sometime between 1693 and 1753 when it is recorded that two new bays to the Market Hall were built (1966 Grade 11 Listing and Bingley Conservation Area Assessment 2004).
Dodd (1958) confirms that “The Market Hall was standing on Main Street (a little lower than the place from which it was removed in 1888) at least as early as 1720, when it was reported that the market day was Monday” He also notes that “The markets rights still fell to the Lord of the Manor and the Hall became his property, though the cost of building or possibly rebuilding, fell on the town”
1753 – Renovation
What is without doubt is that Thomas Lister a local builder carried out renovation and additions “at considerable expense” namely twelve pounds thirteen shillings and ten and a half pence in 1753. Local accounts confirm that the cross was already there and that the work entailed roofing the cross and adding the two bays to the market hall and an archway with a dated keystone. Mention is also made that the market was “furnished” with standard weights and measures, the scales and weights being owned by the Manor Court. An early example of controlled Weights and Measures!
1775 – Reorganisation
By1775 an effort was made to try to revive the flagging fortunes of the market “which had for some time been lost” despite the money that had been spent on it. The intention was to make Bingley a rural market town of note.
A committee of 14 which included leading landowners was formed to look at reorganising the way that the market was run. As a result new resolutions were made to try and improve usage:
- The market would be held every Tuesday and the 100 signatories of the resolutions pledged that for a year they would not buy grain, dairy goods, vegetables anywhere other than the Public Market
- Customers should “refrain” from buying meat off any butcher who “shall refuse to erect a stall in the neighbourhood of the Market Cross” This was also intended to dissuade customers from buying directly from farmers.
- Every effort would be made to persuade travelling dealers in hardware, hats and fish from neighbouring towns and villages to sell their goods at the market.
Changing Times – The Plague, then Decline
Unfortunately despite these efforts, market activity was not revived and the situation actually got worse. An outbreak of the Black Plague in 1787 resulted in many local farmers transferring their business to the market at Otley
In 1806 the market appears to have no longer been in existence but it opened again before 1822 with Tuesday as the market day. Horsfall Turner reports that in 1830 the Market was still being held on Tuesday in its position near the Old Queens Head on Main Street. Dodd (1958) however reports that by 1837 Bingley was an industrial rather than market centre “greatly declined from its former consequence.”
Up to 1818 the Bingley Stocks had been situated near the Parish Church but in that year they had new stone posts fitted at a cost of five shillings and were moved to Main Street next to the Butter Cross and the Market Hall. The stocks were last used in 1870 but to this day remain with the Butter Cross and Market Hall.
Purchase of the Market Rights
On May 28th 1868 The Leeds Mercury announced that the Market would be transferred to Myrtle Place and would take place on Saturday evenings. From this date onwards the ancient market relics of Bingley situated in Main Street would become subject to much change.
This was pre-empted in August 1882 when the Ancient Market Rights were purchased from George Lane- Fox, the then Lord of the Manor by the Bingley Improvement Commissioners for £800.
Amongst improvements suggested were the widening of Main Street necessitating the removal of the old market buildings because “For many years the old Market House, Butter Cross and Wesleyan Chapel quite blocked one portion of the chief thoroughfare rendering the passage of vehicles difficult and not altogether free of danger.
The Market House was in 1888 removed stone by stone and re-erected at the top of Prince of Wales Park where it now remains”. The old Butter Cross and Stocks were removed thither at the same time” (Dodd 1958). John Brown was paid sixteen pounds and six shillings for reconstructing them on site. The buildings would no longer be used as a market and would remain in the Park for as further 96 years.
In respect of a location for the new market Dodd (1958) records “the suggestion of Myrtle Place (though in 1868 its use as a market place on Saturdays had been permitted) was rejected as it was the only outlet where boys could play and people hold meetings. Mr Ferrand offered a site opposite the Parish Church but this was also rejected.
Market Bye Laws
To ensure that the administration and running of the market would protect the interests of the community and of traders, in September 1895 a new set of Bye Laws in the Urban District of Bingley were written and introduced.
The Bradford Observer of 27th November 1896 noted “The market at Bingley since the removal of the market building has lapsed to some extent. It is a very ancient market – one of the oldest in the West Riding.
It would appear that a “temporary” market building known as “the shed” provided a home for the market until it was demolished to make way for the new Post Office on Main Street in 1914.
From then on Myrtle Place was the natural home in the centre of Bingley for the market which became firmly established and ran on Fridays each week.
Subsequently when Myrtle Place was demolished for improvements in the 1970’s the Market moved to the Myrtle Walk Shopping Centre in 1973. Here it existed as a small covered area outside the Library entrance until the redesign of the Centre as Bingley 5 Rise Precinct in December 2009 .
The Civic Trust moved the Market Hall, Butter Cross and Stocks back into the centre of Bingley to Jubilee Gardens at a cost of £18,000 in 1984. On 22nd September 1984 the buildings were handed back to Bradford Council.
The last move of Bingley Market as an entity was to the Town Square near Bingley Little Theatre in March 2008 where it now runs as an Open Market on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday each week.
So, in 2011 a market still exists in the centre of Bingley with the ancient market buildings beside it as a historic reminder. Despite the passage of time, the market still suffers the vagaries of fluctuations in trade and increasing competition from supermarkets and local traders, each trying to survive in the face of an economic downturn.
However, 800 years of local service is a legacy that few institutions are likely to be able to match! The Telegraph and Argus of 19th May 2012 reported that a quarter peal of bells would be rung at All Saints Church, Bingley on 20th May 2012, to mark the occasion.
Alan Cattell – July 2012.
Many thanks to: Richard Ambler of Bradford Markets for access to Bradford Markets Archives
First published 2011 ©Alan Cattell, 2011
The right of Alan Cattell to be identified as the Author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyrights, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
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