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1850-1875

The First Covered Market at Kirkgate
By the 1850s, the shoppers of Leeds wanted something more than the open air market at Kirkgate. The Council responded to this by deciding to build a covered market. Mr. Tilney, the Borough Surveyor, produced a design influenced by Paxton's Crystal Palace.

The market was opened in May 1857. It was a magnificent building and the Leeds Guide of 1858 gives us a detailed description: 'The building is of iron and glass, covering an area of 4,040 yards and is situate at the junction of Vicar Lane and Kirkgate. The style of architecture is Gothic. It has 44 convenient shops on the outside, and 35 inside, where there are also four rows of iron stalls. At night this beautiful crystal market hall is well illuminated by 200 gas lights, arranged round handsome cast iron pillars. Altogether it is the most complete structure of it's kind in England.'

A great variety of goods was sold in the market hall. The type of goods sold were regulated by the Market Byelaws of 1857.
'The Covered market, situate between Kirkgate , Vicar Lane, Ludgate Hill and part of Smithfield Street is hereby appropriated as a market for the sale, in the Shops therein, of Fruit, Vegetables of all sorts, Poultry, Bacon, Cheese, Butter, Eggs, Fish, Earthenware Glasses Flowers Flower Roots Plants, Calicoes, cloth, Linen, Articles of Dress, Provisions, Coopers' Ware, Pastry, Spices, Confectionery, Pottery Ware, Books, Nuts, Brooms, Besoms, Oats, Wheat, Barley, Peas, and Beans in the Grain, flour, Oatmeal, Potatoes, Images, Pictures, Cutlery, Hardware, Mercery, and Small Ware; and for the sale in or upon the Stalls therein, of Fruit, Vegetables of all Sorts, Poultry, Bacon, Pork, Cheese, Butter, Eggs, Fish, Flowers, Flower Roots, Plants, Provisions, Pastry, Spices, Confectionary, Books, Nuts, Oats, Wheat, Barley, Peas, and Beans in the Grain, Flour, Oatmeal, and Potatoes.'

No dogs, no hawkers, no smoking, and no swearing were permitted in the Covered Market. A photograph of the exterior of the covered market taken in 1901 shows the market before it was demolished to make way for the new market hall. The Open Market continued on ground to the west of the new building on Tuesdays and Saturdays for the sale of fruit and vegetables, poultry, fish and a variety of other goods. The placing of stalls in Briggate was no longer allowed after 1857 so the Briggate street market which had been at the heart of Leeds for 650 years had come to an end.
Click images to enlarge
Design for Covered Market, 1855
Design for Covered Market, 1855
Covered Market, interior, 1885
Covered Market, interior, 1885
Covered Market, exterior, 1901
Covered Market, exterior, 1901
Map of Kirkgate Market, 1890
Map of Kirkgate Market, 1890




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