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  • The trade is this area is what gave Leicester’s Haymarket its name
  • Hay was traded by auction to firms that used horses for transporting their goods
  • The auctioneer’s platform was used by speakers to address large crows, including suffragettes

How the Haymarket got its name

Leicester´s hay market used to be held in the area where the Clock Tower now stands. In the 1860s it moved to Humberstone Gate due to congestion from horse-drawn traffic. The new market was called the Hay, Straw and Roots Market and was held on Wednesdays. The hay was sold to businessmen in the town who used horses for transport including firms such as Millingtons (coal merchants), Ginns and Gutteridge (undertakers) and Kirby and West (milk suppliers).

The market auctioneer’s platform was sometimes used by speakers addressing large crowds, including local suffragettes and during the General Strike of 1926.

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Hay, Straw and Roots Market, late 19th Century

The weighbridge and toll collector’s house

The weighbridge and house were built on the site of one of the town´s workhouses. The dray (cart) was weighed with its load and then weighed again after delivery so the price of the load could be calculated. The weighbridge was run by Leicester Corporation who would use it to levy taxes on goods transported through, or sold within, the town.

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Suffragette Rally c.1910

Tolls to taxis

The market died out in the 1930s with the coming of motor vehicles and in 1965 the weighbridge was decommissioned by the Weights and Measures Department. The area became a car park for a while and the house had various uses until its present role as a taxi office.

The area just behind the weighbridge was bombed during the Second World War, destroying the Freeman, Hardy & Willis building that stood there.

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Roman Leicester

(47- 500) A military fort was erected, attracting traders and a growing civilian community to Leicester (known as Ratae Corieltauvorum to the Romans). The town steadily grew throughout the reign of the Romans.

Medieval Leicester

(500 – 1500) The early years of this period was one of unrest with Saxon, Danes and Norman invaders having their influences over the town. Later, of course, came Richard III and the final battle of the Wars of the Roses was fought on Leicester’s doorstep.

Tudor & Stuart Leicester

(1500 – 1700) The wool trade flourished in Leicester with one local, a former mayor named William Wigston, making his fortune. During the English Civil War a bloody battle was fought as the forces of King Charles I laid siege to the town.

Georgian Leicester

(1700 – 1837) The knitting industry had really stared to take hold and Leicester was fast becoming the main centre of hosiery manufacture in Britain. This new prosperity was reflected throughout the town with broader, paved streets lined with elegant brick buildings and genteel residences.

Edwardian Leicester

(1901 – 1910) Electric trams came to the streets of Leicester and increased literacy among the citizens led to many becoming politicised. The famous 1905 ‘March of the Unemployed to London’ left from Leicester market when 30,000 people came to witness the historic event.

Modern Leicester

(1973 – present day) Industry was still thriving in the city during the 1970s, with the work opportunities attracting many immigrants from all over the world. While industry has declined in recent years, excellent transport links have made Leicester an attractive centre for many businesses. The City now has much to be proud of including its sporting achievements and the richness of its cultural heritage and diversity.

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