Posted: 20.11.20 at 11:40 by Philip Evans
Interesting historical documents have been unearthed referring to the establishment of a market in Axminster in 1824 and the opening of a town hall.
They were uncovered by Lord of Manor Jim Rowe, who owns the street market rights, when clearing out his office. He had seen neither of them before. They used to be stored in the office of auctioneers R & C Snell in Axminster before they were taken over by Symonds & Sampson of Bridport.
Mr Rowe succeeded his father, the late Mr Frank Rowe, who ran R & C Snell, the now defunct cattle market and the Thursday street market.
There had been a market in Axminster since medieval times but by the 19th century, with a great variety of shops opening up and the improvement in transport links, the market declined in popularity.
The cover document was dated October 20th 1824, stating: “To James Alexander Frampton Esq, the within observations respecting the establishment of a market at Axminster on Wednesdays are offered by his very obedient and humble servant Robt [sic] Hallett of Axminster in Devon.” Mr Frampton was the Lord of The Manor at that time.
Mr Rowe referred the documents to David Knapman, who has just published a book on Axminster entitled 'Unsteady Progress – The History of Axminster 1701 to 2000', for transcription.
The document refers to a previous market held on a Saturday which, although well supported by the public, it was not funded or managed well and “naturally fell to the ground”.
It was proposed that the new market would be held on a Wednesday, funded by shares at £25 each and to be run by a committee. Profits each year would be divided between the shareholders.
A market clerk was to be appointed and letters were to be sent to local farmers requesting their attendance.
The hand-written documents uncovered by Mr Rowe included details of a proposal to build a new town hall and market house in the town, details of which are included in Mr Knapman’s book, and it was anticipated the new market would open on the day this development was completed.
This building was of a size that it was reported that it hosted a banquet for 130 persons in 1844.