Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: June 30, 2018
Webpage updated: June 30, 2018




By the end of the Second World War in 1945, with the City Centre flattened by bombing, it was clear that the old Pannier Market had seen better days.  The "Plan for Plymouth" envisaged a whole new City centre and the old Market was in the way and, besides, it was facing in the wrong direction to fit in to the new straight east-to-west road system being built.

Work started in October 1952 on a new Pannier Market about as far away from the site of the old one as could be imagined, at the "bottom" end of the Centre, where King Gardens used to be.  The Wholesale Meat Market and the Corn Exchange were demolished in that year to make way for New George Street and "Tin Pan Alley" was pulled down in February 1952 to make way for the new buildings on the west side of Old Town Street.  The Pannier Market, which had long ceased to be filled with 'Panniers' anyway, was closed on Saturday September 5th 1959.

The move in to the new building was undertaken on the Sunday, starting at 6am, when the fruiterers started to pack their cars, vans and lorries with their produce and weighing machines so that they were ready to unload again at the new building when it opened at 7am.  Workmen helped to erect the stalls and lay wiring to them as required.  Tempers flared occasionally.  One man hit his head on the corner of the stair-case, which was only 5 feet 8 inches from the ground.  The work on the stalls finished at 5.30pm but further up Cornwall Street the debris was still be cleared from the old Market amidst a small group of sightseers.

In the new Market, which had cost 269,548 to construct, there were 51 shops, six tea stalls, room for 144 general stalls and a Fish Hall for the fishmongers who had previously lined Market Place.

Shortly after 10am on Monday September 7th 1959 the Lord Mayor of Plymouth, Mr Percy N Washbourn, declared the Market officially open.

However, one shop was not able to open that morning.  Messrs Snell's, the tobacconists, had not received the bronze fitments that were a feature of their shops so their opening was apparently delayed for two weeks.

In 2008 the name Plymouth Pannier Market was finally given up and was changed to the Plymouth City Market.

Of the original stallholders who opened their businesses on that Monday morning only two survived at the beginning of 2018: Messrs J E Underwood and Sons, shell fish dealers, and The Bookstall.  On June 21st 2018 Underwood's closed down and left The Bookstall as the lone survivor.