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24 September 2014

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You are in: Leeds > History > Local history > Kirkgate Market

Kirkgate Market

Inside Kirkgate Market

Kirkgate Market

The colourful market in Kirkgate has been supplying the shoppers of Leeds for more than a century.

Kirkgate Market was opened on 1 July 1904 by GW Balfour, the then MP for Central Leeds. Outside is the lively open market where Michael Marks opened his Penny Bazaar in 1884, leading to the founding of Marks & Spencer in 1890.

Dr Kevin Grady, director of Leeds Civic Trust says: "Kirkgate Market is one of the great city institutions and an essential part of city life.

"This remarkable flamboyant building is one of the city's finest architectural gems and hopefully will be treasured for centuries to come."

The area around Vicar Lane was crowded with slums and slaughterhouses, and Vicar Lane itself was little more than a narrow cart track. The Bazaar and Shambles, built in 1825, was outdated and insanitary.

Kirkgate Market

Kirkgate Market

In 1893 the Central Market, next to the Corn Exchange, burned down. This provided the opportunity to link Vicar Lane with Duncan Street. Vicar Lane needed to be widened, and pavements built which meant that the Covered Market, already considered inadequate to modern needs, would have to be demolished.

The council decided to build a new market, to rival those of other cities like Huddersfield and Bradford. They particularly favoured the design of Halifax Town Hall.

An architectural competition was held to decide on a design. Only eight designs were entered for the competition, and the prize of £150 was won by John and Joseph Leeming of London. They were the architects of Halifax Town Hall so admired by the Council.

The new building was completed in 1904, and the final cost was £116,750, rather more than the original estimate of £73,000 pounds

In July 1904, there was a grand opening ceremony with G.W Balfour. A procession of over 30 coaches brought the civic dignitaries to the iron gate at the entrance to the market. The market stalls were stocked with produce and ready for business. The opening ceremony was followed by a grand banquet at the Art Gallery.

Now Leeds Kirkgate Market is one of the largest in Europe. There are 600 stalls and 200,000 people visit the market each week. It is as popular with shoppers as it ever was.

The market opens from Monday to Saturday with a half day closing on Wednesday. On the first and third Sunday of each month, there is a Farmers' market, with people from the surrounding district bringing produce and craft goods to sell.

last updated: 27/06/2008 at 17:06
created: 02/04/2008

You are in: Leeds > History > Local history > Kirkgate Market

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