The focal point of any market town is, understandably, its market. Think of Heanor, and you will think of the Market Place as being the centre of the town, the traditional hub of commercial activity.
However, prior to the 1890's, the centre of the town, where any travelling market stalls would have been set up, was at Tag Hill (near the Jolly Colliers).
It was not until August 1894 that Heanor Market Place, as we know it, was established. Before that time it was part of Heanor Hall Park, but in the late 1880's the Miller Mundys of Shipley Hall broke up the old Heanor Hall estate. (Heanor Hall, the home of the Ray family, stood where the old Grammar School – or South East Derbyshire College – now stands.) In fact, as late as 1828 there had been a pit, the Heanor Hall Colliery, on the Market Place site – right in what we see as the town centre!
The new Market Place already had several distinctive buildings on its north side, with the Church, the King of Prussia public house (hastily renamed the Market Hotel, at the start of the first World War), and the Town Hall, which was built in the 1860's. But the development of the new market caused the commercial centre of town to move from Tag Hill and Derby Road (then called West Hill), onto Market Street and Market Place, with increased shop building over the next few decades.
In 1897, there was a public subscription to fit a fountain in the Market Place, to celebrate Queen Victoria's Jubilee. This was an unusual item, as it had two troughs, one for horses and one for dogs, as well as drinking water for the public; the fountain remained until 1932/3, by which time the number of horses had diminished!
A brief mention of some of the shops that have surrounded Heanor Market Place over the years may bring back memories:
Perhaps special mention should be made of Rowell's Drapers, possibly the longest surviving shop in the Heanor area – it has been in its current position, next to the Market Hotel, since at least the 1920's, but before that was directly opposite, in the building which predated the Co-op Supermarket.
Today's market is now a shadow of its former self; shopping trends have changed with more mobility favouring large out-of-town stores. The town centre shops have suffered the same effect.
But next time you walk across the Market Place, think about the history it has seen – the annual wakes (again, today's fair is little in comparison), Royal Visits, the arrival of the trams in 1913, the army recruitment campaigns of 1914-18. But most of all, view it for what it really was – the heart of a thriving community of traders and shopkeepers, providing a quality service for local people.
Last modified on 29 September 2013 12:49