Images Through Time
Gravesend indoor market at its height of popularity – a period that lasted into the 1970s.
Gravesend had a market recoded by a charter since 1268 and it was the source of great wealth generated by trade and taxation so that in 1573 the first town hall was built next to it having been largely funded by market trade licences and extra costs levied on non-Gravesend Borough traders who wished to sell here. The market as we see here – and know today – was another monument to that generation of forward looking Victorian and Edwardian councillors whose object was to improve the look, economy and culture of the town. The present Market was completed in 1898 after a rebuild and has functioned as such ever since and anyone more than about 50 will remember a busy bustling market full of colour and bargains.
In the 1970s Gravesend Market was still thriving in an economy where large national store selling all gods at cheap prices (such as £1) were unheard of and so the market was a natural place for the housewife to find bargains and quite often fancy goods not found elsewhere. The lighting of the market was upgraded in the 1960s with neon strip lights as can be seen here , as opposed to the 1950s shot which has hanging single lamps with their own shades. The market was also place for entertainment provided by several stall holders – it was the last bastion of the street cries that ordinary shoppers would have been used to in the nineteenth and early twentieth century and which pa ssed out of fashion during the 1950s during the rest of the town.
A view towards the Queen Street entrance of the interior or covered market with a view of the Queen Victoria statue given by George Matthews Arnold (1826-1908). He also presented another Queen Victoria outside the Victoria Adult Education Centre and the General Gordon statue in the Gordon Memorial Gardens. The market is free of the semi-permanent stalls that lined the inside walls and centre aisle and which were an increasing feature of the market from the 1970s until cleared away in 2015 with the closure of the market ready for a complete refurbishment. During the 1960s the market was still a good source of rents income for Gravesend Borough Council and a continuation of a feature of the town since time immemorial
The municipal pride of Gravesend Corporation in opening a brand new, hygienic and convenient market for the borough is clearly illustrated in this picture. The market hall is still without the Queen Victoria statue which George Matthews Arnold presented (he is in the feathered hat). The mayor, who officially opens this latest symbol of modernity and progress, is John Russell (with the 1873 municipal chain)was the owner of Russell’s Brewery in West Street with a large portfolio of tied public houses and another of that imposing generation of Victorian civic leaders and visionaries.
The covered market hall lighting was provided by gas from the gas works situated at this time near the canal basin with its offices in Berkley Crescent. The new covered market building had 69 general stalls, 9 for meat and 16 for fish and the surrounding streets were decorated for the occasion.
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