Archives reveal plans for glass covered market in Parliament Street, York

The sketch for a covered market of glass and iron in Parliament Street, circa 1860.

Carriages in Parliament Street some time between 1902 and 1906

Parliament Street from St Sampson's Square on a busy market day in 1961 (8770513)

Parliament Street market dating in the 1880s. The York Union Bank is the building on the left corner which is now Barclays Bank

Cars parked in Parliament Street in the 1940s

The crowded market in Parliament Street in 1889.

Parliament Street in the 1940s

First published in Features
Last updated

Newgate Market is temporarily back in its original home while Newgate is refurbished. STEPHEN LEWIS looks back at the history of the Parliament Street market - and discovers plans from the 1860s for an extraordinary covered market made of glass

WITH York's market having temporarily returned to its former location in Parliament Street while Newgate gets a £1.5 million refurb, it seemed a good time to dig out of The Press archives this old sketch for a proposed 'covered market of glass and iron'.

The sketch is by Edward Brown after an original made by Edward Taylor in about 1860, and shows how Parliament Street could have looked had the idea for a covered market gone ahead. Peer closely and you can just see, beneath the sketch, a description of the project in italic writing.

"A market of this kind could be erected for about £5,000," it says. "It would not obscure the view from one side of Parliament Street to the other, would leave a street wider than High Ousegate on either side of the market and provide ample accommodation for the sellers of country produce."

All that and it would have looked rather magnificent too - York's own version of London's famous Crystal Palace, perhaps. Sadly, it was not to be - but it is still nice to imagine what it might have been like...

Parliament Street was actually built principally as a street to host markets. In the early 1800s, York's two main markets were at Pavement and in the Thursday Market (now St Sampson's Square).

However, according to Hugh Murray, Sarah Riddick and Richard Green in their 1990 publication York Through The Eyes Of The Artist, there was not enough space in the two markets to cater for all the traders wanting to bring their goods into the city centre for sale. The online History Of The County Of York gives a vivid description of the situation.

"The restricted space of Pavement was being increasingly used for stalls of city shopkeepers, and by hawkers and pedlars, to the exclusion of legitimate stall-holders from the country: the corporation had neglected to enforce its regulations, and the offender were well entrenched," it says.

In 1827, in an attempt to resolve the problem, the York Corporation sought an Act of Parliament to enable "the linking of Pavement and Thursday Market by a broad, new street, and the extensive demolition of old property."

The Act of Parliament was granted in 1833, and old buildings demolished and the new street opened in 1834. It was known as Parilament Street because of the Act of Parliament that had been required to build it.

A new market was opened in the new street on June 16, 1836, with 185 stalls selling food and general goods.

"But still the traders were not satisfied," notes York Through The Eyes Of The Artist. "Having gained the extra spaces, they now required protection from the weather."

Proposals were made in 1853 to put up a covered shelter running the length of Parliament Street - and among the designs submitted was that by Edward Taylor that features in our sketch. Taylor was subsequently to design the building that became today's York Art Gallery, but his plans for a glass palace in Parliament Street ultimately came to nothing.

Further proposals for a covered market were made in 1863 and 1869. "Finally, in 1871, the problem was resolved by provision of movable covered stalls with iron supports and wooden gratings for the stallholders to stand on," York Through The Eyes Of The Artist reports. York market in roughly the form we know it today had been born.

The market continued to be held in Parliament Street right up until 1964, when Newgate Market opened. But it was never a daily market (apart from briefly between 1939-40, when there was a market every weekday in both Parliament Street and St Sampson's Square), being held instead several days a week.

We have a few photographs of the Parliament Street market in its heyday on these pages - the earliest dating from the 1880s, the most recent from 1961.

We also have a great view of the south end of Parliament Street dating from between 1902 and 1906, looking towards Pavement. Isaac Walton the tailor apparently arrived in 1902, the caption to the photograph says.

On Pavement itself, you can see Braimes, the Tadcaster brewer, and next to it the Saturday office of corn and potato merchant Isaac Poad & Sons, handy for the Saturday corn market which was still held at the bottom of Coppergate. The Poad head office was on part of the site now occupied by The Press in Walmgate.

And finally, we have included a photograph of the street on days when the market was not being held, and the centre of Parliament Street seems to have been used for parking. It dates from the 1940s, and shows ranks of elegant saloon cars parked in the centre of the street.

Comments (3)

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10:45am Thu 31 Jul 14

Yorkswalls says...

I have always thought the idea of having a glass roof over Shambles would make it even more unique than it is already.Also a section of the Walls could be glazed near Nunnery Lane or Lord Mayors walk where you could include disabled access and ,facilities'.
I have always thought the idea of having a glass roof over Shambles would make it even more unique than it is already.Also a section of the Walls could be glazed near Nunnery Lane or Lord Mayors walk where you could include disabled access and ,facilities'. Yorkswalls
  • Score: -17

4:14pm Thu 31 Jul 14

The Grim Reaper says...

Why on earth has Yorkswalls received so many minuses?
Why on earth has Yorkswalls received so many minuses? The Grim Reaper
  • Score: -3

7:37pm Thu 14 Aug 14

Philcrowder says...

The present Newgate stalls were designed to ref;ect the roofline and arch of the glass enclosure featured in this article. Large covered areas have their place eg Leeds but Yorks Parliament st is too wide and town centres in my opinion should be opeh and not be enclosed like a supermarket or shopping mall.
The present Newgate stalls were designed to ref;ect the roofline and arch of the glass enclosure featured in this article. Large covered areas have their place eg Leeds but Yorks Parliament st is too wide and town centres in my opinion should be opeh and not be enclosed like a supermarket or shopping mall. Philcrowder
  • Score: 0

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