The New Market: Extracts from Dr. Randall

Bridgend Market, c.1905!
The earliest records of the town prove that it possessed a regular Saturday market, and two prescriptive fairs on 'Ascension day and St. Leonard's day (6 November). In the middle ages Newcastle church was dedicated to St. Leonard. The market rights were vested in the lord of the manor and they were clearly a substantial asset. The Survey of 1631 gives particulars of the market rights but does not refer to any building. As to the fairs The Cambrian newspaper contains some curious records on the early nineteenth century. In 1809 an announcement was made that a fair would be held on 1st April and thereafter annually on that date; in 1818 that the Bridgend fair was to be held on 23rd May for livestock; and in 1826 that the May fair was to be held on 3rd of May. No other entries appeared, and it is not clear whether these efforts were attempts to alter the dat eif the Ascension Day fair or to establish a new fair. Neither object could be attained for a prescriptive fair, but nothing more seems to have happened.  

From the recitals to the Bridgend Market Act 1836 it appears that the general market was held in the principal streets of Bridgend and Newcastle; but that the market for meat, fish, poultry and provisions was held under a building erected for that purpose by the Earl of Dunraven or his ancestors 'near to the bridge called the Old Bridge'. It was further stated that the market for corn, wool, leather and so forth was held "in a certain market place situated under the public Justices room or hall of the said town or village", also erected by Lord Dunraven or his ancestors. These recitals are distinctly puzzling because they apparently refer to two separate.

The Dunraven map of 1778 is discussed below, but in this matter it does not help in the least. It is most curious that the market hall does not appear in the terrier attached to the map, and it cannot be identified with any certainty upon the  map itself.

There is a reference in The Cambrian of 17th July, 1818, to the election of John Edwards of Rheola as M.P for the county at Bridgend Town Hall, which must refer to the Justices' room; and in the same newspaper of 10th March, 1832, there appeared an advertisement of the sale of the Leicester Arms near 'the Town Hall where the corn, butter and cheese market is held, and within a short distance of the coal Wharfs.' his indicates one building for the sale of corn and provisions, and not two separate buildings for corn and provisions respectively as recites in the Act of 1836.  Yet the promoters of that Act can hardly be accused of ignorance of the facts, but perhaps there was an unnoticed draftsman's error.

The Bridgend Market Act received the royal assent on 30th March, 1836, and it converted a manorial or franchise market into a statutory. After the manner of the Statutes of that time it is exceedingly verbose, and it was not provided with a short title, nor even numbered clauses. The Mother of Parliaments during the greater part of her existence was as untidy an old lady as ever lived.

On 6th of August, 18  36, it is recorded that the new market place was in course of erection; and on 11th March, 1837, formal notice was given that the new market would be opened on Lady Day. On 30th of January, 1839, the new slaughter houses were opened for public use, and on the 18th of April, 1846, the scheme of the Act completed by the opening of the new cattle market.

The name of the old tennis court which had apparently been disused before 1836 is still preserved in the sign of the Tennis Court Inn. There was also a tennis court at Cowbridge now converted into a Cinema.

The provision market was erected on its present site (Caroline Street) and was entirely reconstructed  in 1906. It has served its purpose from that day to this, but now many of the stalls and small shops are open daily and not on Saturdays only. The Slaughter houses and the weigh-bridge have passed into the control of the local authority and have been re-erected on new sites. The cattle market has likewise migrated. It was removed from the streets and established in the angle between Adare and Wyndham Street in the centre of the town., but when this area was taken for building it was moved to the present Bus Station.

Notes: These extracts are taken from a source written and published in 1955. 
Source: Bridgend: The Story of a Market Town: Dr Randall 

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