Periodically there is debate about the future of Leicester's market. Should it be redeveloped, should it be moved, should the permanent stalls become temporary and the space be used as a public square? Whatever the current ideas may be, the popularity of the market with the public is undoubted. In any event, if the market does change it may only be reverting to a previous incarnation.
In the past the stalls could be folded up, stored away under the corn exchange, and the market used for parades and meetings. Militias trooped, and Ramsey McDonald spoke to (and than ran from) a crowd here.
This wasn't always the only market in Leicester - in the Middle Ages there were others - and the market on Highcross St closed as recently as 1884. One of the columns from its market cross was placed by the current market in 1976 (1). There used to be a separate fish market and although this closed in the 1970s and moved indoors the building remains as shops (2). Roads run round the market and on Market Place the Odeon Arcade is named after the cinema that used to stand here (3). The Corn Exchange (1850) houses cafes and gives a hint of the continent to the area (4), while the statue of the Duke of Rutland (5) was said by some to portray him drunk!
In some of the more recent changes to the market some of the stalls were removed, aisles widened, and more eating and drinking areas introduced (6). However, the large indoor Market Centre (1973) is unchanged and still offers a variety of foods, clothing, and general bits and bobs (7). A couple of the entrances to the market have been marked with sculptures (8) and the changes seem to have made the area more pleasant.
This website is part of the East Midlands Oral History Archive and has been compiled by Colin Hyde. Any comments can be sent to him via the 'Contact us' button at the bottom of the page. Last updated 20/04/2011.