THE MARKETS ARE ESTABLISHED
Newton Abbot was originally two separate towns, which grew out of two manors: Highweek (or Teignwick) to the north of the river Lemon and Wolborough to the south.
In 1246 King Henry III granted the Lord of the Manor of Highweek, Theobald de Englishville, the right to hold a weekly market. In 1269 he also granted the same right to the Abbot of Torre Abbey, who owned the manor of Wolborough. The towns that developed around the markets eventually became known as Newton Bushel: ‘Bushel’ as it was the new town of the Bushel family who inherited the lordship of the manor, and ‘Newton’ after Newton Abbot, the new town of the Abbot.
Newton Bushel’s market was held on the land where Abbotsbury Church is now. It was held on Tuesdays, and the Newton Abbot market was held on Wednesday in what is now Wolborough Street.
In 1633, Richard Yarde, the Lord of the Manor of Highweek bought the Newton Abbot market from the daughters of John Gaverock, who had become Lord of the Manor of Wolborough after the dissolution of Torre Abbey. Richard Yarde merged the two markets into one, held on the Newton Abbot site, and held on theNewton Abbot market day, Wednesday. A second, Saturday, market was introduced in the 18th century.
WHO WERE THE MARKET TRADERS?
Most of the people who traded in the Newton Abbot market in the early days were bakers, smiths, carpenters, shoemakers, weavers, tanners and salt and coal merchants. Then, in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, as the wool trade increased, cloth and dye merchants, leather workers and fullers (who cleaned the wool). Farmers would also bring their produce and livestock to be sold. Originally, the animals were slaughtered and butchered in the open, but in 1634 a special butchers’ market was built.
In front of the Clock Tower is the base of the old Market Cross. It would originally have been topped by a stone cross. The cross was intended to remind traders that God was watching them, and that he would notice if they tried to cheat their customers.
Just in case the traders ignored the cross, however, there were other means of ensuring fair trading. There was the Clerk of the Market whose job it was to ensure that everything was sold to ‘just weights and measures’. There was also a special court, the Court of Piepowders, which decided any disputes in the market, including accusations of cheating, theft or violence. The Court of Piepowders could impose a fine or sentence offenders to be locked in the stocks and pelted with rotten fruit by passers-by. These stocks can still be seen in the Clock Tower when it is open.
THE MODERN NEWTON ABBOT MARKET
The origins of the modern market can be traced back to 1826. At that time it was still held in Wolborough Street, and it was causing enormous traffic problems as coaches tried to find their way around the stalls. The Reverend Richard Lane, the owner at the time, was therefore persuaded to move it to a new site, roughly where Newton Abbot Market square is now.
A building was erected for a potato and vegetable market, one for butchers and one for fish. The system of tolls for the market traders that had been introduced in medieval times, continued as before.
In 1868 the Wolborough Local Board (the local council of Newton Abbot at the time) asked the Government for permission to buy it. This was granted by the Newton Abbot Market Act, and the Board set about putting into place a series of improvements. The river Lemon was covered over and new buildings were erected, which included a butter market, a pannier market for the sale of fruit and vegetables and a corn exchange. These collection of buildings became known as the Alexandra Hall and was used for a variety of community purposes: skating, concerts, lectures and banquets. The Alexandra Hall is now the Alexandra Cinema. The butter market, the inner area, had fixed stalls around the walls, with temporary stalls in the middle. The pannier market, which was the outer area, had only fixed stalls. Both are now part of the indoor market of Newton Abbot Market.
In 1894 the Local Board was replaced by Newton Abbot Urban District Council, which still only covered Newton Abbot. It was not until 1901 that Newton Bushel was invited to join the urban district and the two towns became one.
In 1906 the cattle market was moved from the Market Square to its present site between Sherborne and Halcyon Roads, and in 1962 covered pens were provided. In 1956 the refurbished Newton Abbot Market hall (the indoor market, incorporating the butter and pannier markets) was opened, and in in December 1971 the multi-storey car park was built, with sheep and pig pens underneath.
In 2000 the produce market was introduced to give local producers the chance to sell their produce direct to the public. It is held in Courtenay Street on Tuesdays and Fridays.
THE MARKET TODAY
Today’s Newton Abbot Market is very successful as people from all over the UK are bought here to see and buy it! The Market today comprises several different elements:
- The indoor market which sells all manner of food, crafts and general goods, and is open six days a week
- The produce market which is held every Tuesday and Friday in Courtenay Street
- The general outdoor market which takes place in the Market Square and in Courtenay Street every Wednesday and Saturday
- A ‘trash and treasure’ market which is in the Market Square every Friday
- The livestock market which is held every Wednesday and selected Tuesdays and Saturdays