A Brief History of the Markets in Bradford and the surrounding area
The earliest town with evidence for a market is the pleasant Wharferdale town of Ilkley nestling under Rombalds Moor. The series of Roman forts in the old town of Olicana had markets attached to them. Only one wall of one of these forts is now visible but the units which form the Open Market stand on the approximate site of the Roman Market.
The earliest Market Charter in our area belongs to Bingley who obtained theirs from King John in 1212.
King John signed neither this charter nor the Magna Carta as he was illiterate. These documents bear his seal.
Bingley still has its old medieval market cross and eighteenth century Market Hall & stocks although these are not on the Open Market site. They can be found in the town centre beside the Arts Centre.
Bradford received its Market Charter in 1251 from Henry III.
The old market cross is still preserved in Kirkgate Market albeit the top was sliced off by a disgruntled Roundhead. Like most towns Bradford’s early market was adjacent to the Church but the ninteenth century saw many changes of venue.
Kirkgate Market (still retaining the church gate reference in its name) stands very close to the site of the Victorian Market of the same name still remembered with affection by locals.
The Oastler Shopping Centre (formerly John St Market) stands on the Copy Quarry Estate site just above Kirkgate. The Oastler site was bought by the Council in 1920.The Market takes its name from the Leeds man who championed better conditions for children working in mills & factories – Richard Oastler (1798 – 1861). A statue of Oastler stands outside the Centre.
Henry de Keighley secured Keighley’s Market Charter from King Edward 1 in 1305.The Market site has moved little over the years from its original Church Green site.It is still possible to see Keighley Parish Church tower from the side entrance to the Market. Against all the odds a list of Keighley Market prices has survived from 1312 shewing wheat at six shillings (30p) a quarter and a fat goose at tuppence- halfpenny (1p).
Shipley has no Market Charter having spent most of its life as a pleasant rural back-water where the Abbot of Rievaulx had grazing rights for the monastic sheep. The town didnt really take off until the mid-ninteenth century and the Market dates from that period.
The indoor market is not connected with Bradford Council but the outdoor Market meeting in Market Square (site of the Victorian Market) is Council run.
St.James’s Wholesale Market in Bradford is also a Victorian conception. Opened in 1874 next to the Meat Market this complex originally boasted a railway station, four banks and a post office. The subterranean chambers for storing wool and bananas and the mighty crane (20 ton lift) are still remembered by older Bradfordians.Today it is much scaled down but still a thriving fruit and veg market in its 1976 stucture.
All Bradford’s Markets are in ancient settlements and all of these places appear in the Domeseday Book of 1086.