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Origins

The story of the markets in Leeds begins in 1207, when Maurice Paynell, the Lord of the Manor, granted the first Leeds borough charter. The heart of the new borough was to be a broad street, with half acre plots either side tenanted by the burgesses of the town. These burgesses, or 'townsmen' were free to pursue their craft or trade, and to create a centre of commercial activity, so increasing the wealth of the borough.

This central street, running up from the river to the outskirts of the town became known as Briggate, (the road to the bridge).  It was unusually wide, and deliberately designed to be a market place, situated  close to the places where goods were manufactured. Briggate is shown on the earliest map of Leeds, drawn in 1560.

Medieval documents of 1258 tell us that both a market and fairs were held in the town. By 1341, the market, with perhaps twelve market stalls, was held in Briggate on Mondays, though later Tuesday became market day. There were also two annual fairs, which brought people to Leeds from further afield. Evidence for an important and busy market comes from medieval records which refer to non-payment of market tolls resulting in court action, problems over false measures, and disputes over the siting of market stalls. By the end of the seventeenth century, the cloth market was held on Tuesdays and Saturdays on Leeds Bridge.
Click images to enlarge
Map of Leeds, 1560
Map of Leeds, 1560
Taking cloth to market
Taking cloth to market
Old Leeds Bridge, 1867
Old Leeds Bridge, 1867




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© 2003 Leeds City Council | Site created by: LCC electronic information team | 25 March 2003