"Bridgend, or so named of the site there of being butt on east side of the bridge upon Ogmore in that place. Within it is kept every Saturday a great market therein is sold corn (and) victuals, and often cattle and other merchandise are to be sold."
(Rhys Meurug, 1578)
The first recorded mention of a market at Bridgend is found in the year 1516. This would have been in the form of a charter/grant from King Henry VIII. It isn't known whether there was a market in the area before this time as the name 'Bridgend' derives from the erection of the 'Old Stone Bridge' in c.1425.
"….Penbont a good market toun standing on Ogor."
(John Leland, 1539.)
During the earlier part of the seventeenth century, it was common for Court Surveys made of certain areas. The Court Survey for Coity Anglia was held at Bridgend on the 22nd March 1631. At that time the Lord of the Manor was Robert Sidney, Earl of Leicester.
An entry in this survey tells us that Bridgend held a weekly Saturday market with two fairs on Ascension Day and St. Leonard's Day. It is noted that Henry Matthew took the Market Tolls under an assignment from Rowland White who held them for life from the Lord of the Manor. Although the Survey gives particulars of the market rights, unfortunately, it does not mention/refer to any building.
Below are two extracts about the survey from Dr. Henry Randall:
"The jurors repeat the statements of the previous century that there was a weekly Saturday market and the two fairs on ascension day and St. Leonard's Day, they follow this by saying that Henry Matthew took the Market Tolls under an assignment from Rowland White who held them for life from the Lord of the Manor."
"The Jury professed a politic and convenient ignorance both of the consideration that Rowland White had paid to the Lord of the manor and of the value of the market tolls, but they did report that Matthew paid White a rental of £20 per year. They could hardly have done otherwise as Matthew was a member of the Jury."
"The Standard Winchester Bushel belonging to the Market of Charles Edwin, Esq., in the County of Glamorgan, compared with the original at the Exchequer, the Nineteenth Day of December 1798."
|Illustration of the Old Town Hall.|
It is thought that during the eighteenth and early nineteenth century, the Bridgend Market was held under the arches of the Old Town Hall. This Town Hall was a typical Booth Hall/Market Hall with Justice Rooms above. The Old Town Hall was erected c.1788 and demolished during 1843 to make way for the New Town Hall. An advertisement for the sale of the Leicester Arms in 1832 describes the Public House as being near “the Town Hall where the corn, butter and cheese market is held..”
|Bridgend Market Hall, 1905.|
Bridgend Market Act of 1836.
In November 1835, The Cambrian reports that an application for a new town hall and market hall in Bridgend had been put forward to Parliament.
The application now known as the Bridgend Market Act of 1836 was given Royal Assent on 30th of March 1836. Later that year., The Cambrian reports that the New Market was under construction on the site of the Old Tennis Courts at Eastgate Street (now Caroline Street).
The New Market was opened to the public on 25th of March, 1837.
The Cambrian reports: “It is not as yet completed, but the work is so far in progress, that no inconvenience will arise, either to the venders of commodities, or to the public. We congratulate the good folks of Bridgend, in having now, what they wanted long ago, a good and commodious Market.”
The scheme of the act was also to include the erection of a New Slaughterhouse and New Cattle Market. Previous to this act, the livestock market was held in the street surrounding what was then the town hall.
On the 30th of January 1839, the New Slaughterhouses were opened. Later, on the 18th April 1846, the New Cattle Market was opened on a site near Wyndham Street/Adare Street known as 'The Election Field'. The opening of these new buildings completed the scheme of the Bridgend Market Act of 1836.
|Bridgend Market Hall, Caroline Street, c.1910.|
“For years Bridgend has felt the need of a more up-to-date market place.”
In 1906 the Victorian Market Hall at Caroline Street was completely demolished and entirely reconstructed on the same site. Unlike its predecessor, the New Market Building had a full covered roof that allowed ample light and ventilation via clerestories. As well as the surrounding lock-up stalls, the central market space which measured at 120 ft by 109 ft, had allocated to rows of movable stalls. When the stalls were removed the building was capable of accommodating 5000 people.
The Market Building was designed by Messrs. Henry Martin and Son, of Birmingham; with the construction work being carried out by Mr. Philip Gaylard of Bridgend.
|The Entrance to the Market Building at Caroline Street.|
In 1955, the Market Buildings were taken over by Bridgend urban District Council. Previous to this, the BUDC had taken over the Slaughterhouses, Weighbridge, and Cattle Market. The Cattle Market was moved to the site at Quarella.
The Market Buildings at Caroline Street were demolished in June 1972. The New Market in The Rhiw Shopping Centre opened on 15th May 1972.
|Interior views of the Market Buildings at Caroline Street, 1971.|
(Sources: H.J Randall - Moelwyn I. Williams - LLGC - BCBC)