A History of the County of York East Riding: Volume 1, the City of Kingston Upon Hull. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1969.
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MARKETS AND FAIRS (fn. 1)
In 1279 Meaux Abbey was granted a weekly market on Thursday in its town of Wyke, (fn. 2) and in 1293 two weekly markets on Tuesdays and Fridays were established in Hull. (fn. 3) It was these markets that the town took at farm under the general charter of enfranchisement in 1331, (fn. 4) but it was not until 1382 that the town was exempted from the supervision of the royal clerk of the market. (fn. 5) Tuesday and Friday continued to be general market-days, and by the early 19th century Saturday, too, had become one. (fn. 6) These days were not regularly followed, however, for the sales of meat, corn, and livestock. In the late 19th and 20th centuries market halls were built which opened daily. (fn. 7) Within the market-place various areas were set aside for different commodities, while other goods were sold in special markets elsewhere in the town; these individual markets are considered separately below, as are the town's fairs.
The main market was first held on each side of Marketgate, parts of which later became known as Butchery, Market Place, and Lowgate. In 1469 it was restricted to that part of the street south of Whitefriargate (i.e. Silver Street) and Scale Lane. (fn. 8) All commodities were sold within the area of the market-place, which provided the town's main market until modern times. An exception to this occurred in 1637–8 when the market was held on 'Drypool Side' as a plague precaution. (fn. 9)
Major alterations were made within the marketplace during the 18th century. In 1762 and 1771 the street was enlarged, and buildings near the Guildhall were demolished in 1792. (fn. 10) A proposal to enlarge the area further by making a new street from the market-place to the Humber was sanctioned by Act of Parliament in 1801, (fn. 11) and annuities were issued by the corporation to raise money. (fn. 12) The alterations were in progress in 1804; Butchery was widened and renamed Queen Street, and the street was extended southwards to Ferry Boat Dock. (fn. 13) In 1818 it was ordered that Queen Street was to be an extension of the market-place, and ten years later Humber Street, from Queen Street to Humber Dock, was to be a further extension. (fn. 14) The open market remained in these streets until the 20th century, when it was moved to a square at the west end of Holy Trinity Church. In 1904 stalls were restricted to this square and to South Church Side. (fn. 15)
Although part of the market remained in the open, two market halls were built by the corporation to reduce crowding around the market-place. The first of these, built on the site of the butchers' shambles at the junction of Blackfriargate and Queen Street, was opened in 1887. It was designed by W. Gelder. In 1928 it contained 109 stalls and 20 shops. (fn. 16) The second market hall, principally for fruit, flowers, and vegetables, was opened in 1904 on North Church Side. In 1928 it contained 74 stalls. (fn. 17) In 1941 the first of these halls was destroyed by bombing, and stallholders from it were accommodated in the North Church Side hall. (fn. 18) This hall was extended in 1950 and 1958. (fn. 19) In 1962 it contained 98 stalls. (fn. 20)
Among the ancillary buildings of the market was the market house, which was removed during the alterations of 1762. (fn. 21) Little is known of the origins of the house, but four other buildings, variously described, are perhaps to be identified with it. First, in 1595 Alderman William Gee was said to have built a store-house in the market-place for corn and food; (fn. 22) secondly, a small building depicted in the centre of the market in 1610 and c. 1640 (fn. 23) may well be the market house; thirdly, a market-keeper's house is mentioned in 1651; (fn. 24) and lastly, a building called a toll-house lay in the market-place in 1744. (fn. 25)
Also removed in 1762 were 'the Dings'. These were shops or stalls, probably below street level, on the west side of Market Place. (fn. 26) By the mid-14th century they were let by the corporation. (fn. 27)
Another feature of the market-place was the market cross. This may have been erected there as early as 1498–9. (fn. 28) In 1623 the cross was described as 'newly raised', and it may have been rebuilt in the previous year when various alterations were made in the market-place. About 1640 it apparently stood at the south end of the market-place, (fn. 29) and in 1682 it was extensively altered, acquiring a leaden cupola and balustrades. (fn. 30) It was taken down in 1761. (fn. 31)
There was a bull ring in the market-place from at least 1522. In 1630 it was on the south side of the cross, between it and the common hall. In 1734 it was ordered to be moved to Lowgate. (fn. 32) Its site was subsequently occupied by a statue of William III, erected by public subscription in 1734. (fn. 33) The statue, by Peter Scheemakers (1691–1781), the Flemish sculptor, (fn. 34) was first ordered to be gilded in 1768. (fn. 35) It still stood in Market Place in 1966.
The market was supervised by a keeper. He was appointed in the earlier 15th century at a small fee but this payment ceased in the 1460s, (fn. 36) by which time the market-keeper was probably lessee of the market tolls. He was responsible for the location of stalls, the cleansing of the market, excluding the corn market, and the supervision of food on display. From the 17th century onwards he was helped in this by overseers. He was also required to attend the mayor at the assize of bread and on other public occasions. (fn. 37)
The letting of the market tolls had been customary from at least 1394–5. (fn. 38) From the beginning the lessee and the market-keeper were often the same man, but it is not until 1470 that the lessee is called the market-keeper. (fn. 39) Details of the tolls themselves and of stallage are not recorded until 1771. (fn. 40) In 1816 the corporation stopped letting the tolls and appointed a salaried collector instead. (fn. 41) By 1831, however, the corporation's right to collect tolls and stallage at all was being challenged. It was upheld, however, when the dispute was brought before York Assizes, (fn. 42) and in 1833 new regulations concerning stallage and tolls were enforced. (fn. 43) By 1888 the corporation's market revenues comprised stallage and rent from the open market and the market hall, tolls from the cattle and wholesale vegetable markets, and subscriptions from users of the corn exchange. (fn. 44)
Weights and measures used in the market were regulated by the corporation from at least the 16th century. (fn. 45) In 1624 the common officer and four burgesses were responsible for testing both public and private weights and measures in the Guildhall; (fn. 46) and in 1629 an order was made for the annual inspection of the corn measures. (fn. 47) Weights and scales were housed in a shop behind the 'old shambles' in 1775 and in a room behind the Guildhall in 1831. (fn. 48) In 1836 the newly-formed Property Committee was to superintend the market-keeper in the weighing of meat and fish. (fn. 49)
Among other orders of the corporation for the better regulation of the market were several against forestalling, engrossing, and regrating, particularly in the corn market. (fn. 50) In the 18th and 19th centuries it was often necessary to order the regular searching of the market for bad meat, (fn. 51) which was burned and the sellers prosecuted. (fn. 52) Congestion in the marketplace on market-days presented another problem. In 1410 butchers were forbidden to tie their animals in Fleshmarketgate because of the obstruction this caused. In 1566 it was ordered that stalls must be set beyond the gutters, (fn. 53) and in 1608 that they should not obscure the shops behind them. (fn. 54) In 1662 sleds were not allowed along Church Lane during the butter market, (fn. 55) and in 1722 all vehicles were excluded from the market-place on market-days. (fn. 56) In the mid-18th century a mountebank stage swelled the confusion and had to be removed by the corporation. (fn. 57)
A street named Butchery (bocheria) is mentioned as early as 1337 and is presumably the same as the via carnificis mentioned in 1340, the Fleshewergate of 1383, and the Fleshmarketgate of 1393; it is called the Butchery in 1443. (fn. 58) Both town and 'foreign' butchers kept their stalls here until 1440; thereafter 'foreign' butchers were on at least one occasion confined to the 'New Butchery' in 'the Dings', (fn. 59) and once to the north end of the market-place. (fn. 60) In 1634 the fish shambles were moved to the Butchery and this necessitated a rearrangement of the town butchers' standings. Subsequently butchers seem to have occupied various parts of the market-place itself; this was the 'White Meat Market' c. 1640. (fn. 61) In 1762 the market house, 'the Dings', and some nearby houses were demolished and replaced by shambles; in 1771 butchers' stalls still in the marketplace were ordered to be removed, and in 1790 any butchers placing stalls in the street stood to forfeit their shops in the shambles. (fn. 62)
In 1806 the old shambles were replaced by extensive new ones bounded by Fetter Lane on the north and Blackfriargate on the south. (fn. 63) In 1834 these were covered and space provided for butter- and egg-sellers. Much of the site was occupied in 1887 by the new market hall and the sale of meat was thereafter confined to the market halls. (fn. 64)
In the 15th century 'foreign' butchers were allowed to sell meat in the market on Tuesdays and Saturdays. (fn. 65) From 1590 onwards this applied to town butchers as well. (fn. 66) By 1804, however, when Saturday had become a general market-day, butchers were also holding stalls on Fridays. (fn. 67)
The earliest recorded provision for the sale of fish is in 1515 when fish shambles were built in what later became Fish Street. (fn. 68) Before this date fish were presumably sold both at the landings from the haven and in the market-place. (fn. 69) By 1604 fish shambles existed in the market-place itself; fresh fish was sold in these by 1608 while salt fish and fresh-water fish were sold elsewhere in the market-place. (fn. 70) The shambles were rearranged in 1622 (fn. 71) but in 1634 were moved to the Butchery where they remained until the end of the 18th century. (fn. 72) From 1756 onwards the sale of all fish, except herrings, was restricted to these shambles and the area behind them. (fn. 73) In 1805 new fish shambles were opened in the Ropery (later Humber Street), but in 1856 they were moved to the former site of the corn market behind the butchers' shambles. (fn. 74) In 1928 fish was sold daily in the market hall as well as in the general open market. (fn. 75)
The rapid growth of the fishing industry in the mid-19th century necessitated the provision of wholesale markets. (fn. 76) In 1888 the harbour commissioners had a fish market, presumably for wholesale trade at the docks; and in 1895 a seasonal wholesale market was held at Paragon Station. (fn. 77) In 1928 a limited trade in cured fish and shell-fish was carried on daily in Corporation Field market, while the wholesale market for fish was held at St. Andrew's Dock. (fn. 78) The entire wholesale market has since remained at the dock. (fn. 79)
By c. 1640 corn was sold near the junction of the market-place and Mytongate. (fn. 80) In 1778, however, the corn market was moved to a position near the butchers' shambles, where it was supervised, from 1785 onwards, by two members of the corporation. (fn. 81) In 1814 this site was sold and in 1816 the market moved to the south end of the new meat shambles, although the area it occupied was not partitioned off until 1828. (fn. 82) The old market nevertheless continued in use until at least 1828. (fn. 83)
In 1853 the corn market was housed in a new building behind the meat shambles. (fn. 84) In 1856 it was rehoused, again in a new building, on the site of the custom house in High Street, although corn was also sold in the open near the building. (fn. 85) This exchange in High Street, designed by Bellamy and Hardy, of Lincoln, has an imposing frontage inspired by the Roman triumphal arch. (fn. 86) It is of ashlar masonry, three bays wide and three stories high. The central bay is flanked by attached, fluted, Corinthian columns rising through two floors and supporting an entablature which breaks forward over the central bay. The entrance arch has a triple key-block with a bearded mask, and the spandrels carry carvings of agricultural motifs. All three floors contain tripartite windows, semicircular-headed in the attic story, framed by pilasters in the ground and first floors. Above the crowning cornice the side bays terminate with balustrades, and over the centre a parapet rises to a semicircle which contains a carved cartouche bearing the town arms. (fn. 87)
The new exchange was not much used, and in 1888 it was in disrepair. (fn. 88) By 1915 it had lost more business to the new corn market which had opened in the market hall on North Church Side in 1904. In 1925 the exchange in High Street was converted into a museum. (fn. 89) In 1945 the corn market was moved to new accommodation in the cattle market where it has been held ever since; the disused premises on North Church Side were then used as corporation offices. (fn. 90)
Regulations for the corn market were drawn up in 1566. (fn. 91) From at least the 17th century the corn tolls were let; and in 1629 there were three persons to supervise corn coming into the market and to collect tolls. (fn. 92) By 1784 the corn market opened daily, but from 1828 onwards it opened on Tuesdays and Fridays. In 1928, however, only home-grown grain was sold on Tuesdays. (fn. 93)
In 1608 the salt-butter market was at the west end of Church Lane, although stalls were apparently set up elsewhere in the market-place during the earlier 17th century. (fn. 94) In 1682 the market was housed beneath the Guildhall, (fn. 95) but in 1692 it was moved to a yard in Lowgate. Its return to the Guildhall was ordered in the same year, but the order may have been disregarded since it was repeated in 1702. (fn. 96) Regulations for the butter market were made in 1685 and 1771. (fn. 97) Nothing is known of the market, however, after the latter date; it is likely that, as in York, it declined during the 18th century. (fn. 98)
Fresh butter was sold from buckets near the market cross in 1716. (fn. 99) In 1834 butter-sellers moved to the new butchers' shambles; in 1888 butter stalls stood in the market hall, (fn. 100) and by 1928 the sale of butter from buckets was also allowed there. (fn. 101) There was no butter market in 1965.
Livestock markets are first mentioned in 1599, when regulations were made restricting the sale of cattle, horses, and sheep to the summer months. (fn. 102) By at least 1630 sales were held in the market-place. (fn. 103) In 1679 the sheep and beast market was moved to Fish Street, (fn. 104) and in 1782 it was moved again to Tan House (later Waterhouse) Lane where separate markets for beasts and sheep were apparently established. (fn. 105)
The cattle market seems to have declined during the early 19th century: it was used as a rubbish dump by the scavenger in 1805, and in 1815 the corporation decided to sell that part of the market not needed by itself or the public. (fn. 106) In 1818 the entire cattle market was sold to the Dock Company, which needed the site for Junction Dock. (fn. 107) The beast market was moved to a temporary site near the waterworks in or shortly after 1819, (fn. 108) but it was not until about 1838 that a new cattle market, in Edward's Place, was opened. In 1928 it was a two-storied building with accommodation for pigs and sheep as well as cattle. (fn. 109) The market was then held on Mondays for fat and store cattle, sheep, and pigs, and on Tuesdays for dairy stock, but by 1962 selling took place on Mondays only owing to lack of business. (fn. 110) The market has been variously altered and extended since 1928. (fn. 111)
Pigs were sold in the market-place probably in the 16th century and certainly by the beginning of the 17th. (fn. 112) Pig Alley, which ran in 1784 from Blanket Row to Back Ropery (later Humber Street), may have been the site of an earlier or alternative pig market. In that year, however, the pig market itself was alongside the beast market in Waterhouse Lane, (fn. 113) and may have remained with it until 1831 when it was established separately on Humber Bank, near the new gaol. (fn. 114) Pigs were later sold at the cattle market in Edward's Place; there, in addition to fat-pig pens, a separate store-pig market, at the junction of Wood's Lane and Cogan Street, was opened in 1915. (fn. 115) In 1928 the pig market was ranked as the fourth largest in the north, but in 1961–2 was run at a loss. (fn. 116)
In 1888 all slaughter-houses in the town were privately-owned; (fn. 117) in 1928 the situation was unchanged, and there was no wholesale meat market. (fn. 118) The building of a public abattoir, under consideration as early as 1901, was not begun until 1963: it was opened, in Edward's Place, the following year. (fn. 119) After the Second World War the corporation took over the management of three slaughter-houses, formerly privately-owned, which under war regulations had been managed by the Ministry of Food. (fn. 120)
Fruit, Flower, and Vegetable Market
Fruit was sold in the market-place from at least the later 16th century, and vegetables from the beginning of the 17th. (fn. 121) About 1640 the fruit market stood to the north of Holy Trinity Church; (fn. 122) in 1752, however, fruit and vegetables were sold together at the south end of the market-place. (fn. 123) Since 1904 fruit, flowers, and vegetables have been sold mainly in the market hall then built for that purpose, but in 1965 stalls also stood in the general open market on market-days.
There was a wholesale fruit and vegetable market in Corporation Field, Park Street, in 1888. (fn. 124) It opened on Tuesdays and Fridays in 1928. (fn. 125) In 1961 smaller accommodation was provided at the cattle market, and the wholesale market has been held there ever since at the same times as before. (fn. 126)
There were two private wholesale fruit and vegetable markets in 1928. (fn. 127) That on Riverside Quay was owned by the L. & N.E. Railway, and was held on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from May to September, and more frequently during the softfruit season. The second was in Humber Street and consisted primarily of the premises of private wholesalers near the docks. Both markets were still in use in 1965.
Wool, Hide, and Skin Wholesale Markets
There was a wholesale market for wool, held weekly in June and July, in the N.E. Railway Company's warehouse in Kingston Street from 1841 to at least 1895. (fn. 128) In 1888 an annual sale of wool was said to be held in a shed in the cattle market. (fn. 129) In 1928 skins and hides were sold in two privatelyowned 'markets'. (fn. 130) Since then there has been no wholesale market for these commodities. (fn. 131)
In 1395 drapers were ordered to sell their goods only in 'the Dings', and for each shop there they paid the corporation 13s. 4d. a year; (fn. 132) this restriction to 'the Dings' was repeated in 1459, 1465, and 1467. (fn. 133) In 1566 the bread market in Market Place is mentioned; in 1752 the bakers' standing was to the south of the cross, between the butchers and the fruitsellers. (fn. 134) In 1608 other traders provided with standings in the market were pedlars, chapmen, glovers, linen-cloth-sellers, goose- and egg-sellers, cutlers, knife-sellers, hardwaremen, candle-sellers, and woodwork-sellers. (fn. 135) In 1818 the earthenware-sellers had a stand in Queen Street below Blackfriargate. (fn. 136) In 1888 the railway company allowed its customers the use of the station as a 'market' for game, hares, and rabbits, and the public was admitted free of charge. It seems that this practice was short-lived. (fn. 137) Drapery was the main commodity for sale in the open market on the 134 uncovered stalls near the church in 1928. (fn. 138)
In 1279 Meaux Abbey was granted an annual fair in Wyke-upon-Hull on the vigil, feast, and morrow of Holy Trinity and for the 12 succeeding days. (fn. 139) In 1293 the Sheriff of Yorkshire was ordered to proclaim a yearly fair in Hull beginning on the eve of the feast of St. Augustine the Archbishop, and lasting 6 weeks until the eve of the Translation of St. Thomas the Martyr (25 May-6 July). (fn. 140) In 1299 Edward I granted the corporation an annual fair for 30 days beginning on the feast of St. Augustine (26 May). (fn. 141) In 1598 the St. Augustine fair was surrendered, and the corporation was granted another from 16 September to 1 October. (fn. 142) The right to hold a fair from 16 September was confirmed by the Crown in 1661. It appears, however, that at some date between 1631 and 1645 the first day of the fair was changed to 29 September, and, the charter of 1661 notwithstanding, it continued to be held from that date. In 1752, following the passing of the Calendar Act, Hull fair was held on 10 October. (fn. 143) By 1823 the date for beginning the fair was 11 October. (fn. 144) It has been customary, however, for the fair to be held from the nearest Saturday to 11 October; it has lasted for 7 days. (fn. 145)
Although the corporation was not expressly granted the right to hold a court of pie-powder until 1598, (fn. 146) it seems probable that such a court was held from the time of the charter of 1293. The custumal of the early 14th century made provision for the hearing of cases during the fair. (fn. 147) In 1440 the corporation ordered that a court be held during the fair, that all should attend it, and that essoins should not be allowed. (fn. 148) And in 1660 a court of pie-powder was ordered to be held for the duration of the fair, with the town clerk as its steward. (fn. 149)
In 1440 the stands for goods brought to the fair were laid down. That for horses was in the Ropery (later Humber Street), that for cattle in Mytongate and the adjoining lanes if necessary, that for sheep in Salthouse Lane, and those for merchandise, mercery, and craftsmen in the market-place from the Guildhall to Whitefriargate. (fn. 150) Regulations concerning the fair survive for the years 1599 and 1600. In both years the horse fair appears to have been held on 9, 22, and 29 September outside North Gate and westward along the town wall. The sheep fair was held on 22 September in Mytongate and the lanes near by. Londoners, grocers, mercers, goldsmiths, and similar traders had their stands in High Street, from North Gate to Chapel Lane end. Founders, pewterers, pedlars, shoemakers, linen-drapers, glovers, hardwaremen, and similar traders stood in Salthouse Lane. In 1599 the cattle stand was 'all along the manor walls' from the sewer in Denton Lane to Bishop Lane end, and northwards to the postern; the cattle fair was also held on 22 September. (fn. 151) In 1630, on account of the plague, persons from Lincolnshire were not to attend the fair without certificates of health and aldermen were asked to take special care of the watch during the time of the fair. (fn. 152) In the following year the fair was cancelled on account of plague. (fn. 153) By 1668 it was usual for the fair to be held in Salthouse Lane and the area towards the North End. (fn. 154)
Nothing is known of the siting of the fair during the 18th century. In the early 19th century it was usually centred on the southern area of the town; in 1865 Corporation Field was used. (fn. 155) In 1888 a permanent fair ground of 6 acres was laid out off Walton Street. The site was increased to 12 acres in 1908 and 14 acres in 1932 and, together with the nearby streets, has been used for the fair ever since 1888. (fn. 156)
It was probably during the 18th century, when little is known of it, that Hull fair changed in character from a general to a pleasure fair. (fn. 157) The horse and cattle fairs, however, although of decreasing size, continued to be held. In 1902 the horse fair was held off Walton Street and the cattle fair in the cattle market, Edward's Place. (fn. 158) In 1908 the horse fair was held in Corporation Field, and continued there until 1953 when it was moved to the cattle market. It has since ceased. The cattle fair became a sheep fair and was last held in 1951. (fn. 159)
Three other fairs were also held in Hull. In 1664 two new annual fairs were granted by the Crown to Henry Hildyard. These were to be held on ground called 'the Manor'—the site of the former Pole family manor-house in Lowgate—which was owned by him, from 10 to 15 July and from 10 to 15 December, Hildyard taking all tolls and profits. (fn. 160) The corporation allowed Hildyard to attempt to establish these fairs, but nothing more is heard of them. (fn. 161)
From 1839 an annual Spring Fair was held in Hull for the sale of horses, cattle, sheep, and pigs, usually on the second Tuesday in April. (fn. 162) In 1888 it was described as resting on custom only. (fn. 163) The last Spring Fair was held in 1937. (fn. 164) Various sites were used—Corporation Field, the fair ground off Walton Street, and the cattle market. (fn. 165)