Also known as the Old Market Place, traditionally it was regarded as the exact centre of Huddersfield.
Eventually the weekly market outgrew the available space, which resulted in the building of Cloth Hall in the 1760s.
A series of stone-lined underground chambers were constructed under the market place — probably in the 1820s — to act as a water reservoir and provide a public water supply, although it appears they were never brought into service.
After an initial proposal to erect a fountain in the Market Place was rejected in 1879, a second plan was submitted to Huddersfield Corporation to commemorate Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee in 1887 and this was accepted. Sir John William Ramsden (1831-1914) financed the cost and the Jubilee Fountain was unveiled by his wife, Lady Gwendoline Ramsden, in June 1888. The fountain was eventually relocated to Greenhead Park.
Extract from Discovering Old Huddersfield (1993-2002) by Gordon & Enid Minter:
Before turning right into Westgate notice, straight ahead, the Market Place which, apart from the removal of the George Inn, has changed little in shape and extent since it was established here in 1671. In that year King Charles II granted to Sir John Ramsden the right "...to have and to hold one market in the town of Huddersfield to be held on Tuesday in every week for ever for the buying and selling of all manner of goods and merchandise..."
Soon after receiving the Charter the Ramsdens raised the Market Cross to mark the site of the general market and although, over the years, it has been moved several times and has been repaired and restored it remains much as it was when erected, surely one of the oldest edifices in the town.
The general market continued to be held in the Market Place for two centuries by which time there was much agitation for a covered market which would be more in keeping with the prosperous modern town. So great was the demand that it even found its way into the pantomime "The Forty Thieves" presented at the Theatre Royal in 1872. In a forthright, if not literary, piece of dialogue several characters addressed the contentious subject thus:
- Who talks of Markets? Where will they be found?
Not here in Huddersfield, I dare be bound.
Have they a covered market? Oh dear no!
The Huddersfielders no such blessings know.
The working man whose daily task is ended
Towards the Market Place his weary way has wended,
The rain and cold his buoyant spirits crush,
As he toils onward through the mire and slush;
His dinner's not yet bought. Wet to the skin,
The public house invites - he tumbles in,
His money spends, gets drunk - Oh grief and sorrow,
His children get no dinner on the morrow!
His case is bad, but those share his disgrace
Who should and don't build him a Market Place.
It was to be another eight years before the "Huddersfielders" received their covered market which was opened on the site of the old Shambles in King Street in March 1880.