Developing the Market
Developing the Market
The beginnings 1771

(From Oxonensia)

The main impulse behind the building of Oxford Covered Market was a general desire to rid the main streets of" untidy, messy and unsavoury stalls", which offended contemporary sensibilities, and provided an effective barrier to traffic. Having survived since medieval times, the street markets in Fish Street, the modern St. Aldate's, and Butcher Row, now Queen Street, were finally condemned by the Oxford Mileways Act of 1771. This Act was primarily concerned with making the city's main roads" more safe and commodious for traffic", and provided for the appointment of commissioners to supervise the demolition of the remairung city gates, the widening of narrow streets, and, where necessary, the building of new roads. A small section of the Mileways Act dealt with the establishment of a joint committee of six university and six city representatives to build and administer a new market in the city for the sale of meat, fish, poultry, herbs and vegetables. Once this market had been completed, the sale of any of these commodities in the public streets was to become illegal.'

More information

1771 Act enabling the Covered Market to come into being
(taken from Market Committee Minutes)

“For amending certain of the Mile ways leading to Oxford, for making a commodius Entrance through the Parish of Saint Clement; for Rebuilding or Repairing Magdalen Bridge; for making commodius Roads from the said Bridge, through the University and City, and the Avenues leading thereto; for cleansing and lighting the Streets, Lanes and Places within the said University and City and the suburbs thereof, and the said Parish of Saint Clement; for removing Nuisances and Annoyances therefrom, and preventing the like for the future; for empowering Colleges and Corporations to alienate their Estates there; for Removing, Holding, and Regulating Markets within the said City; and for Other purposes.”

Oxford City Archives FF2. 1a Market Committee Minute Book 1772 – 1835 

The Act was subsequently repealed except for the Market references.