ABOUT
THE MARKET

About
About


About

MARKET HOUSE

This old building is of great historical and architectural importance, grade II* listed, a multi-use community asset since 1844. This ‘jewel in the crown’ of St. Austell town comprises of two Market Halls and a Town Hall. Built using community funds and to this day, managed by local volunteers. It showcases local creatives and entrepreneurs, hosts local markets and events, and boasts a rich history of public involvement.

Our Vision

The overall vision for Market House, is to develop it as a ‘creative hub’, a niche location, different to other retail offers available on the high street. A place where individuals, businesses and group collaborations co-exist in the building with resident traders, pop up shops, artists and creatives; alongside being a cultural event space for live music, cinema screenings, local theatre events and more.

The aim is to attract both local and regional audiences with a specific interest in heritage, creativity and live cultural events at a community level.

Future aspirations and a very long term goal, is to widen the offer as a community space, by utilising the town hall for weddings, parties and community events. Sadly, in need of major renovation, repairs and funding, additional uses for the town hall space are currently pending.

Our Mission

To enable individuals, businesses and creative communities to access cultural activity, encouraging innovation, participation and partnerships.

To bring vitality into the heart of the town and bring the communities together.

To see the community’s aspirations grow and inspire community pride in the place they live.

To preserve our history and heritage for St Austell.

Design & Architecture

In the middle ages it was customary for markets and fairs to be held in churchyards, but in the reign of Edward III, a law was passed to prohibit such activities on church premises and the markets transferred to some adjacent site nearby.

The site upon which the Market House now stands was previously used as a market place and records show that in 1791, a small market building stood on the site.

It was totally inadequate for the needs of a growing market town and in 1842, an Act of Parliament was given Royal Assent by Queen Victoria to permit the people of St Austell to build a market house and town hall on the site.

Designed by Cope and Eales of London and built by Oliver Stone and Sons of Falmouth, the Market House was opened in 1844. The versatile layout of the Market House has allowed for a variety of uses over time.

– The granite for the building was brought from local quarries by horse and cart. The finely tooled and decorated front facade is most likely Carn Grey granite from Trethurgy. The front steps of the building are made of the same stone. Local stonemasons carried out the cutting and shaping of it from detailed geometric drawings.

– Inside the front entrance, under an extensive vaulted ceiling, was an area set aside for farm produce.

– The butchers’ market was held in the centre of the ground floor.

– The magnificent vaulted timber ceiling is further testimony to the skills and craftmanship of the local people of the time. Constructed from yellow pine, the main beams are over 50 feet long. It is thought to have been the largest unsupported single span wooden roof in Europe at the time.

– Stone stairways on either side of the butchers’ market lead up to the first floor where fruit, vegetables, poultry, butter and the general dealers’ stalls were once held. An old display board of fees is still visible above the stairwell.

– The large room on the first floor with its windows looking out onto Holy Trinity Church was once the Town Hall. It was briefly converted to a cinema around 1914. A hand operated projector was used for showing silent films with musical accompaniment provided by someone playing the piano. It later became a dance hall, locally known as ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ with fights occasionally occurring outside on a Saturday night. It has also served as the regional branch of the Amalgamated Engineering Union and latterly as Evans’ Hardware Store for many years, now sadly closed.

– The gallery above the rear of the first floor is level with Market Hill to the north of the building. Originally this was used as a corn market and then part became used as a fire station which, in 1891, housed ‘Margaret’ a horse drawn fire engine with a hand pump. The gallery has also been the stage for political meetings.

– Run off water from the roof was collected down large pipes that served as pillars in the centre of the first floor and was collected in a chamber below the floor which provided a ready source of water for the fire engine. A fire bell once hung in a wooden tower above the entrance.

– On the ground floor, off Market Street there are two police lock up cells.

About

About

About

HISTORIC EVENT TIMELINE.

History books suggest that the Market House existed as far back as 1638. The building which stands now was rebuilt in 1844, positioned within the heart of the conservation area and heritage quarter and described as the ‘jewel in the crown’ of St Austell.

The fabric of the building has suffered from years of decline. However, it still holds an integral place in the community as reflected in the loyal residency of tenants, passionate team of volunteers and growing vibrancy of creatives, markets and activities.

1312-1377

MARKET HOUSE CREATED

Reign of Edward III

MARKET HOUSE CREATED

Law passed to prohibit markets and fairs from being held in churchyards. Markets moved to adjacent sites such as the site used today at Market House.

1558-1638

MARKET CHARTER GRANTED

Reign of Elizabeth I and Charles I

MARKET CHARTER GRANTED

Charter granted for a weekly market in St Austell. St Austell granted Friday market.

1661

TOLL COLLECTION FOR THE POOR

TOLL COLLECTION FOR THE POOR

The weekly Friday markets and 2 fairs (on St Andrew’s Day and the Thursday in Whitsun week) were granted to Oliver Sawle, Esq and Henry Carlyon, Gent. to collect tolls in trust for the poor of St Austell.

MARKET HOUSE FEATURED

MARKET HOUSE FEATURED

William Hals compiled a History of Cornwall. He speaks of a third fair on Palm Sunday, saying: “The market was a considerable one, wherein were vended all commodities necessary for the life of man.”

A market building

A market building

Records show a small market building stood near this site. It had space only to sell corn, potatoes, dairy goods and meat inside. White fish and vegetables were sold outside.

China Clay Industry

China Clay Industry

St Austell population was only 1400 (22,658 in 2011). However, the discovery of China Clay in the 1700s, with the highest grade in the world, was to change the town’s fortunes. The Parochial History of Cornwall records: “It (St Austell) is now a considerable market for corn as well as other articles.”

Appointed Commissioners

Appointed Commissioners

An act of parliament was given Royal Assent by Queen Victoria to permit the people of St Austell to build a new Market House. Commissioners were appointed to regulate the public markets.

Charles Brune Sawle Esq

Charles Brune Sawle Esq

Charles Brune Sawle Esq of Penrice House laid the first stone of the new Market House and Town Hall.

A New Market House

A New Market House

At a cost of £7000.00, the Market House building was completed. The 24 market commissioners deemed that there was no more street trading in St Austell. The meat market and butchers’ stalls were on the centre of the ground floor and occasionally there were live animals on display in the alcoves around the walls. The main entrance was used primarily for farm produce and on the first floor there were long benches for the farmers’ wives to sell eggs, poultry, butter and jams.

Bread Riots

Bread Riots

The Town Hall, situated in the first floor of the Market House, was the headquarters for the magistrates and constables during the Bread Riots. Clay and tin miners marched into town on market day to protest at the rising cost of foodstuffs at a time of famine in Cornwall.

WWI

WWI

During the First World War, the butchers’ market was closed and the large room on the first floor used as the Town Hall was converted to a cinema which seated 300 – 400 people.

A Thriving Town

A Thriving Town

St Austell was a busy market town. On Tuesdays, farmers came to town to attend the cattle market. They were often accompanied by their wives who spent the day shopping. Friday was market day and local farmers brought their produce into the Market House to sell. Local shops stayed open from 8am until 7pm.

St Austell Market House CIC

St Austell Market House CIC

To secure the financial viability of St Austell Market House and the preservation of this Grade 2 listed building, a private bill to Parliament was required to repel the outdated and restrictive, in scope, Act of 1842. The Market House is now the St Austell Market House CIC (Community Interest Company) run by a volunteer board of directors.

FAMOUS VISITS

MARKET HOUSE HAS BEEN HONOURED WITH THE PRESENCE OF FAMOUS VISITORS OVER THE YEARS.

WILLIAM GLADSTONE, JUNE 1889

June 1889 was a memorable day when the Liberal statesman William Gladstone addressed a mass meeting of a reputed 8000 people in the Market House.

The procession from the station was an imposing site, for the yeomen of Mid Cornwall turned out in large numbers and in splendid form as the guard of honour. Cheering and enthusiastic spectators thronged the whole line of the route. Local leaders of the party met Mr and Mrs Gladstone at the Market Hall entrance. Mr Gladstone’s appearance on the gallery was hailed with a tremendous outburst of cheering from the assembled multitude to which he delivered a magnificent speech. Six local bands took part in the proceedings in the Market Hall.

WINSTON CHURCHILL, JANUARY 1910

Winston Churchill visited the Market House and gave a contentious speech on free trade, it was reported in The Guardian on 28th January 1910.

Having first commended the Liberal candidate Mr Agar-Robartes to the public, The Right Honourable Winston Churchill, MP, President of the Board of Trade, then plunged into a simple argument on Free Trade and, placing two glass tumblers on the handrail before him, demonstrated how a tax to keep the foreign importer out would have the effect of sending up the price of the home manufactured article.