SO1091 : Newtown Market Hall - September 2015

taken 4 years ago, near to Newtown/Y Drenewydd, Powys, Great Britain

Newtown Market Hall - September 2015
Newtown Market Hall - September 2015
View from the stairs in the recently reopened Market Hall.
History of Newtown Market Hall
In 1868 Wastel Brisco, absentee owner of the Newtown Hall estate, instructed his agent in Newtown, Thomas Sturkey, to have some of his properties in High Street and Market Street demolished and an imposing market hall built
in their place. Designed by Liverpool architect, David Walker, with imposing yellow brick and terracotta facades open at both Market Street and High Street entrances it was built by Mr Williams of Llanidloes. The new building was opened a few days before Christmas in 1870. Not wishing to have the expense of running the building himself, Wastel Brisco offered the Market Hall to Newtown Local Board, either for sale or rent.

Opinions on this were divided. Some where outraged that there had been no consultation on the building, how much it would cost or where it should be placed; they felt Mr Brisco was only out to make money for himself. Others saw him as a generous benefactor to the town. By March 1871 the disagreement had become violent and a poll was organised to settle 'The Market Hall Question'. Canvassing on both sides was rowdy with many accusations of cheating. Eventually, the people voted in favour of the Newtown Local Board buying or renting the hall from Mr Brisco. However, this was not the end of the matter. Many were not happy and the scene that followed was one of chaos with crowds shouting, fighting and running along the streets, hurling stones through windows and generally causing trouble.

It was a further 50 years, following WWI, before a financial arrangement was finally agreed upon at a time when The Brisco family needed money to pay off their tax debts and land prices had dropped considerably. Meanwhile the hall was pressed into service as a public meeting place for events and entertainments. In 1876 the floor of the hall was regularly used as a roller-skating rink with community teas, dances and political speeches all taking place in this new large public space.

During WWII a wall was built down the centre of the building and the eastern half of the hall was requisitioned for use as an Admiralty Victualling Depot. During the hostilities the Royal Navy’s stock of Rum was said to have been kept in Newtown. When the war ended that part of the building then became a Ministry of Food Buffet Depot and was later used by a local corn merchant, returning to public use in 1959.

In 2008 the Market Hall was in need of repair and had been running at a loss for a while - perhaps partly because management was inflexible over short-term lets and high rents leading to a reduction in stalls and thereby, income. Powys County Council put the building up for sale by sealed tender.

Mid Wales Food and Land Trust, a local not-for-profit organisation, wanted to return the building to its original use, not just as a market hall but also as a general hub for wider social and community activities. The Trust submitted an Expression of Interest in the building, asking the Council for time to raise the funding required to do a full Options Appraisal and Feasibility Study.

Other tenders had been submitted to buy the building from the Council, but all would have resulted in the loss of the building as a market hall. Councillors voted to defer a decision on the tenders received, while the feasibility study and appraisal were completed.

In 2010 the Council gave an in-principle agreement that the building could be transferred to the Trust if the Trust could raise the money needed for the full restoration and repairs of the building. It took a few years but in April 2014, with grants from Heritage Lottery Fund, Big Lottery Community Asset Transfer Programme and Welsh Government Community Facilities and Activities Programme the property was transferred to the Trust on a 99 year lease and restoration work started in June 2014.

It reopened for business in August 2015 and is open Tuesday to Saturday 9am - 5pm.

Condensed from LinkExternal link which is well worth a look as it also contains a detailed timeline for the hall and includes quotes from various newspaper articles.

Newtown Market Hall's 445 years of history in 5 minutes - video: LinkExternal link
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Grid Square
SO1091, 720 images   (more nearby )
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Date Taken
Wednesday, 9 September, 2015   (more nearby)
Friday, 7 December, 2018
Geographical Context
Business, Retail, Services  City, Town centre 
Primary Subject of Photo
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! SO 108 915 [100m precision]
WGS84: 52:30.8710N 3:18.9173W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! SO 108 915
View Direction
South-southwest (about 202 degrees)
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Image Type (about): inside 
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