Burton on Trent Landmarks #12 – Market Hall

Burton on Trent’s Market Hall has been in the local news a lot recently, because of controversial plans to relocate the library into the hall at a cost of over £7million, to free up the existing library site for regeneration.

Burton on Trent was first granted a charter to hold a weekly market on a Thursday by King John in the year 1200. The first market hall in the town was built in the late 15th century and survived until 1772, when Burton’s first town hall was built in its place. This in turn was demolished in the 1880s, and the present market hall was built in its place in 1883.

The exterior of the building is adorned with stone sculptures. Above the main entrance door is a depiction of King John granting the charter for the market to be held to an abbot of the Burton Abbey. An inscription below reads:

KING JOHN BRINGING CHARTER GRANTING A FAIR AND

WEEKLY MARKET AT BURTON AND CONFIRMING THE RIGHTS

AND LIBERTIES OF THE ABBOT AND MONKS OF BURTON

Inscription above the Market Hall main entrance

As with all the important local buildings, including the Town Hall, the Burton on Trent coat of arms is also depicted on the outside, with the town’s motto “Honor Alit Artes“, meaning “Honour Sustains the Arts”.

Burton on Trent Market Hall

Other pieces of stonework include a depiction of two male figures lying down next to some fruit, as a nod to the wares sold in the market. A sculpture of a bull’s head looks down from the side doorway.

A fish market building was added to the market hall in 1925. This closed in the 2000s, and was taken over by the council for use as offices. The market place outside the market hall is still home to an outdoor market every Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and is the place where crowds gather for the annual switching on of the town’s Christmas lights in November. A-list stars including 1990s singer Chesney Hawkes, Tom from the first series of Big Brother and X-Factor stars Same Difference are among the people who have turned on the illuminations over the years.

The indoor market is open Monday-Saturday every week and has a wide range of stalls selling clothes, food, wool, model vehicles, beauty treatments and much more. It was refurbished in 2013, with the old fruit market stalls outside being demolished at the same time.

In 2020, the local authority revealed plans to close the existing library located off High Street and move it into the market hall, at a cost of £7.3million. The idea is to move the library and its facilities closer to the town centre, with the current library location being deemed too far from the centre of town. The existing library site would then be made available for redevelopment. Opponents of the plan claim that the existing library site would be sold for housing, a claim refuted by The Burton Town Deal Board, the organisation who came up with the idea.

It remains to be seen at the time of writing what the future holds for the market hall, but while it’s still there, it’s well worth a visit to support local traders, pick up some bargains and get something to eat. Thanks very much for reading, and don’t forget that you are welcome to follow the blog on social media. Links are at linktr.ee/martynsblog.

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