Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Markets in Wolverton

Up to 1838 Wolverton had a scattered population, extending from Stacey Bushes Farm beside Bradwell brook in the south to Manor Farm in the north. The eastern limit was Stonebridge House farm and on the western edge there were Wolverton House, Wolverton Park, Debbs Farm and Kiln Farm. There was a cluster of cottages around the church which we know as the village of Old Wolverton. All in all there were about 400 people in Wolverton, a doubling of the population since the beginning of the century when the population was no bigger than it had been in 1086. There was no prospect for a market, and indeed no need, since the larger population of Stony Stratford could support a market, and had done since its foundation at the end of the 12th century.

Wolverton's rapidly growing population, which outstripped Stony Stratford in its first decade, put some pressure on the authorities to provide a market and at the end of 1842 it was agreed to build a Market House at a cost of £173 17s 6d. It was located beside the Stratford Road in the open space to the north of Glyn Square.

Here is a drawing in elevation. It appears to be a simple building.

In 1884 work began on the widening of the road and bridge over the railway and at the same time it was decided to rebuild the market house. Probably at this time the two storey building was erected, although the market hall continued to use the ground floor.

In 1906 there was a fire in the market hall and you can see the damage in the photograph below.

At this time the boy's school had just relocated to a new school building on Church Street so the market transferred, temporarily at first to part of the building on Creed Street. The old market hall in the mean time was restored and rebuilt. However, a new girls and infants school opened in 1908 on Aylesbury Street and the old school was now redundant. In consequence the market continued to occupy the building, expanding to fill most of it as Wolverton's population and trade steadily increased.

This market was extremely busy every Friday and many travelled from North Bucks villages on special buses, and of course by train from Castlethorpe, to make their weekly purchases. this thriving market was closed in 1980 and transferred to the new Agora building on Church Street. The market continues, although in scale and quality it does not approach its former glory. this may have more to do with the rise of supermarkets and changes in people's shopping habits than its location.

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