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Market history at an end?

PUBLISHED: 12:00 25 January 2002 | UPDATED: 11:14 03 March 2010

IPSWICH market has a long history, stretching back into the mists of time before the town was granted its royal charter in 1200.

In fact, the settlement here was founded by the Anglo-Saxons in the dark ages for two reasons - it was the highest point at which the River Orwell could be bridged so it was an obvious port for trade with what is now Holland.

IPSWICH market has a long history, stretching back into the mists of time before the town was granted its royal charter in 1200.

In fact, the settlement here was founded by the Anglo-Saxons in the dark ages for two reasons – it was the highest point at which the River Orwell could be bridged so it was an obvious port for trade with what is now Holland.

And with the port and the bridge, it was the obvious place for local farmers and peasants to meet and trade their goods at the market.

The corn market was at the heart of this trade – and was held, unsurprisingly, on the Cornhill.

Other market stalls were nearby.

The meat and dairy market stalls were held to the east of the Cornhill, along what is now Tavern Street – there were several inns in this area.

The fish market was to the south of St. Lawrence church and the town's timber and bread market were both held to the south of the Cornhill, on what is now Princes Street.

There was also a cloth market, a cheese market, and a livestock market – all in the area surrounding the Cornhill.

Ipswich market has suffered over the centuries, however, because it had never had a permanent home, being based in Market Street (Where the Buttermarket Centre is now) and Falcon Street before moving into the newly-completed Corn Exchange in 1888.

It remained an indoor market there for 82 years, trading very successfully before it was moved as part of an ambitious retail experiment which went spectacularly wrong.

In November 1970, the Corn Exchange market was forced to move out to the Greyfriars complex. The traders didn't go without a fight staging protests which were pictured by the Evening Star.

That was an ugly 1960s centre designed as the last word in urban design. It's still hated by anyone who can remember it 20 years after it was demolished.

The people of Ipswich weren't interested in going to any shops that opened there – and they weren't interested in traipsing out of town to the market when it went to Greyfriars.

The decline started from then – within a few years councillors realised that Greyfriars was a White Elephant and the market had to move to a better site.

That's when it started its nomadic existence. In September 1977 it moved to a temporary site in Crown Street, where the Crown Pools are today.

Four years later it moved across the road to Tower Ramparts, on the site of today's shopping centre.

When construction work started there it moved again, to another "temporary" site outside the Civic Centre. It's been on that "temporary" site for the last 18 years.

For the last nine years it's been planned to move it to a new permanent site off Tacket Street.

First proposed as part of the aborted Cloisters scheme, it's now a key element of the planned Mint Quarter development.

But work on that is many years away – and today's market traders are convinced they won't still be around in the town by the time it's ready.

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