Oxford’s Covered Market turns 245 years old

first_imgThe market was first established to remove the large amount of traffic entering Oxford, making the roads tidier and safer, via the ‘Oxford Mileways Act’ of 1771. The sale of vegetables, meat, fish and herbs outside of the market became illegal, making the market a hub of activity and eradicating the street markets on Fish Street and Butchers Row. What doesn’t show up on the records is the sense of family and community expressed by the shop workers and owners in the covered market. Many of the shops are generational and have been passed down for many years, such as Browns Café which has been in the same family for twenty-five years. Other comments included a sense of pride at being part of a place with such historical interest – the fact that the market has been a lively shopping centre for over two centuries illustrates its value in the community and allows us to appreciate the trading development through stores that have stood the test of time. The Oxford Covered Market turned 245 years old on Friday 1st Novem- ber, having first opened in 1774. The market is filled with 63 independent business stalls, selling a variety of crafts, food and drinks. The original part of the market has remained the same, attracting both tourists and locals alike, with food ranging from Greek to Thai. When asked “What does the covered market mean to you?” the shop manager of the Indie Oxford Market Place focused on the “community aspect” and “family feel” as traders help each other in the mornings. The universal business directory of 1794 described the “new general market” as being placed in “one of Oxford Aromatics spoke of the “camaraderie of all the shop owners”, while Brothers contrasted the “market spirit compared to the high street” through the “labouring friendship” at a time where “independents are thriving”. the finest streets in Europe” and was “universally allowed to exceed everything of the kind in this King- dom”. Its architect John Gwynn, who also built Magdalen Bridge in 1790, designed the market to have three separate entrances to allow ease of access for traders and buyers. A florist from The Garden commented that its “nice it’s kept its traditions” and the manager from the Indie Oxford Market Place liked that even though there was new developments in the centre, the focus on independent stores which kept their family names help maintain a “connection to the past, present and future”.last_img

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