About Us & Our History

Sheffield have a proud market heritage from its city centre markets, both indoor and outdoor to the Marketplace at Crystal Peaks, Farmers Markets, specialist markets, and a wholesale market.

Our markets offer customers tremendous choice, quality and value.

History of the Markets in Sheffield

In 1296 a charter to hold markets and fairs in Sheffield was granted by Edward 1 to Thomas de Furnival, Lord of the Manor of Sheffield.

There was then a period of over 600 years when the markets were owned, operated and developed by the lords of the manor.

In 1899 Sheffield Corporation purchased the markets and rights from the Duke of Norfolk, and since that time the markets have remained the property of Sheffield City Council.

1996 marked the 700th anniversary of the granting of the charter and in the same year the Council announced plans for the major redevelopment of Castlegate Markets in the City Centre.

There are key dates and events in the development of the markets and trade in Sheffield. The information has been split into three key time periods.


  • 1279 – Thomas de Furnival, Lord of the Manor, claims the right to hold a market in Sheffield
  • 1293 - Thomas de Furnival claims the right to hold a Sunday market and a fair on the eve and day of Holy Trinity
  • 1296 - A Royal Charter to hold markets and fairs in Sheffield was granted by Edward I to Thomas de Furnival. This Charter allowed a weekly market to be held every Tuesday and a three-day fair to be held once a year


  • 1332 - The tolls of the fair and market were recorded as being worth six shillings and eight pence a year
  • 1379 - Poll tax returns show Sheffield was the third largest urban centre in the West Riding area
  • 1383 - By now tolls for the fair and market had increase to forty shillings a year, this maybe have been due to the previous increase in Poll Tax


  • By the 17th Century parish registers reveal that there were more births than deaths and that the population of Sheffield was growing. This created an increase in the demand placed upon the market, which the trades struggled to cope with.
  • 1609 - In response to the increase in demand two officers were appointed with the specific duties of ensuring that butter and eggs were only sold at the market, and not in the field or farms they were produced. Two more officers were also appointed to ensure that corn was only sold at market, and that it was not sold until the market bell had been rung


  • The number of people dependent on others to produce food and transport it to the towns for them to purchase, is still increasing. Farmers and traders had to continue to adapt so they could supply enough produce to meet demand
  • By the mid 1700's the market place in Sheffield consisted of an irregular sprawl of shops and stalls, surrounded by High Street, Swine Market, Bullstake (latter renamed Haymarket) and King Street (also known as Pudding Lane). Stalls may also have spread beyond the Market Place stretching up High Street to Church Gates. Tradition has it that farmer's wives would come to the market with baskets of butter and eggs which they would sell standing around the Market Cross
  • Towards the end of the 18th century the butchers were among the first to be affected by the pressure for change. The problems and nuisance caused by the increased number of animals being driven into the town centre promoted local inhabitants to petition the owner of the markets Charles Howard the Earl of Surrey (later the 11th Duke of Norfolk) to provide them with a larger market place with better access for animals, carts and pedestrians
  • 1784 - An Act of Parliament was passed to enlarge the Market Place, and regulate the markets within the town of Sheffield
  • 1786 - A new market hall, Fitzalan Market, was built on site of the old market and opened on 31 August. The live cattle market was moved from the Bullstake to The Wicker, and new slaughterhouses were erected next to the River Don near Lady's Bridge. Joseph Hodgkinson provided plans and designs for the new hall at a cost of £10-10s-0d. To fund the scheme, the Duke of Norfolk sold "Chief Rents" and "Fridleys". Between 1784 and 1801 a total of £4,136-17s-11d was raised from these sales. Further money was raised by mortgaging tolls and other market revenues. The Duke of Norfolk continued to be paid a toll by all market traders for the privilege of selling their goods. The traders also paid rents for stalls and shops, which were collected twice yearly at Michaelmas (29th September) and Lady Day (25th March)


  • 1815 - A Sheffield Canal Company was formed by an Act of Parliament, in response to increased need to trade with areas outside the Sheffield region. The success of other cities that had already established extensive canals, such as Birmingham and Manchester, made it clear that to compete Sheffield also needed this kind of access to the outside world. The Act of Parliament stated the purpose of the Sheffield Canal Company was to construct "… a Navigable Communication between the River Dun and Sheffield … which is one of the most populous towns in the Kingdom, a place of great commercial importance, and remarkable for its hardware…"
  • 1818 - The 12th Duke of Norfolk, Bernard Edward Howard, established a new market –the Green Market – on the site of the old gaol between King Street and Castle Street. It was used as a fish, poultry and vegetable market
  • 1819 - On 22 February Sheffield’s direct waterway to the sea was opened. A general holiday was called, and "an immense assemblage of spectators" gathered at the new canal basin to see the boats from Tinsley sail into the City
  • 1827 - An Act of Parliament was passed empowering the 13th Duke, Henry Charles Howard, to create a new livestock market at Smithfield adjacent to the River Don, construct a bridge over the river (Blonk Street) providing easy access to and from the Wicker and build a Corn Exchange and Haymarket adjacent to the Canal Basin and backing onto the River Sheaf. (Park Square roundabout now stands close to this site.) Previously in 1826 Michael Ellison, agent to the Duke had expressed his opinion that the improvements would draw the focus away from the existing market and have a negative effect on current trade levels
  • 1830 - The Town Trustees supported a plan to build a railway from Manchester to Whaley Bridge, with the justification that in the future it would be important for Sheffield to have easy access between the mineral district of Derbyshire and the port of Liverpool
  • 1830 - The new developments including a market, bridge over the River Don and a Corn Exchange were completed. Michael Ellison’s view turned out to be justified as a petition was soon sent to the Duke from the traders in Fitzalan Market Hall complaining about the loss of trade
  • 1835 - A Bill proposing a rail link from Sheffield to the North Midland line, via Rotherham and Homes, was put forward. However there was strong local opposition including the Duke of Norfolk, who held a virtual monopoly of coal supply to Sheffield, and the Vicar of Rotherham, who with 120 supporters, claimed: "Furthermore it would bring about an incursion of the idle, drunken and dissolute portion of the Sheffield people as a consequence of increased facilities of transit between the two towns." The bill was defeated
  • 1836 - An Act of Parliament was passed leading to the start of the great railway age of Sheffield
  • 1839 - A second petition was sent to the Duke from market traders complaining of the impact of private slaughter-houses and shops on the meat market, and requesting that the petitioners be allowed to trade from the Corn Exchange and Haymarket on Fridays, when the buildings were not used
  • 1847 - The Markets continued to develop in the Town Centre and another Act of Parliament authorised construction of a new market hall between Castle Folds and Dixon Lane, for the sale of general produce. Land around the new hall, between Exchange Street and Broad Street, would also be cleared for stalls and fairs. The Green Market, which by now was almost solely used for the sale of fish, would be discontinued once the new hall was opened
  • The Tontine Inn, whose prosperity was largely dependent on the coaching trade, occupied part of the site chosen for the new Norfolk Market Hall. In 1838 coaches were still leaving, daily, to York, Leeds and Birmingham, but the coming of the railways led to a decline in coach services and reduction in profits. The Inn was demolished in 1850
  • The 1847 Act also led to the creation of Castlefolds Markets, on land between the Corn Exchange and the Norfolk Market Hall. It provided a covered letting space for the wholesale trade in fruit and vegetables. The Sheaf Open Market was also established on the adjacent site. This came to be known as "the Rag and Tag market"
  • 1850 - The Tontine Inn, which occupied part of the site chosen for the new Norfolk Market Hall, was demolished in 1850. The Inn was largely dependent on income generated by the coaching trade, but profits fell as this trade started to decrease after the introduction of the railway system
  • 1851 - The Norfolk Market Hall, which had been built at a cost of £38,000, opened on Christmas Eve.
  • 1872 - A further Act of Parliament in led to the construction of a new wholesale fish market, close to the Sheffield Gas Works building and Sheaf Market. This market was build to exploit the rail-borne wholesale fish trade which the new port facilities, particularly Grimsby, made possible; using Sheffield as a centre for re-distribution to the vast markets of the West Riding & Lancashire
  • 1875 - The Prince and Princess of Wales visited Sheffield in August. To hide the old and insanitary old market, the Duke commissioned M E Hadfield & Son to designed a huge triumphal arch, constructed of wood and canvas, at Lady's Bridge. The work also included a scheme to disguise the adjacent shambles, which stood at the bottom of Waingate and whose unsightly walls extended for over 100 yards along the riverbank. The Royal visit they were hidden by a 30 foot high wall of painted canvas representing an "old baronial castle"
  • 1875 - The Public Health Act was passed which empowered local authorities "with the consent of two thirds of their members, to purchase by agreement any existing market rights and to take stallages rents and tolls in respect of the use by any person of such Markets, and for the purpose of enabling Town Councils to establish and regulate Markets and Fairs, certain provision of the Markets and Fairs Act 1847 are incorporated in the new Act"
  • 1879 - The new wholesale fish market opened, and the 15th Duke of Norfolk also commissioned a new Corn Exchange
  • 1881 - The new Corn Exchange opened. Built on a site originally occupied by the Shrewsbury Hospital, at a cost of £55,000, the new Corn Exchange was described by a local newspaper as "one of the greatest architectural beauties of the Town"
  • 1890’s - The Sheffield Corporation made determined efforts to improve facilities for the people of Sheffield. Schemes for tramways, electric lighting and improved water supplywere instigated. The markets were seen as a vital part of the City's development
  • 1898 - The Lord Mayor, Alderman George Franklin, wrote to the Duke: "for many years I have been impressed with the view that the Markets and market rights of the City should belong to the Local Authority, and believe that this view is shared by a large number of my colleagues in the City Council…there is no sufficient reason why Sheffield… should be dependent upon private means to supply such an obvious public necessity…". In letters written by the Duke to the Lord Mayor at the beginning of 1898, it is clear that he would have preferred to keep the markets in his own hands
  • 1899 - Sheffield Corporation purchased the markets and rights from Duke of Norfolk, for the not inconsiderable sum of £526,000. Since that time the markets have remained the property of Sheffield City Council. An agreement was finally reached between the Duke and the Lord Mayor whereby: "… the Duke will sell and the Corporation will purchase for the sum of £526,000 first the fee simple of all the market halls and places for holding markets and fairs slaughter-houses messuages buildings lands and hereditaments specified … secondly all such rights of using and enjoying certain arches under the approach to the station in Sheffield of the Great Central Railway Company … thirdly all the rents tolls duties pickages stallages and sums of money which under or by virtue of the Sheffield Markets Act 1847 and 1872 the Duke or other person or persons entitled for time being to the rents and profits of the Castle and Manor or Lordship of Sheffield is and are empowered to demand and take … fourthly all other (if any) the markets and fairs and market places and places for holding markets fairs and slaughter-houses situate used exercised or enjoyed within the Town of Sheffield…"


  • 1928 - Sheffield Corporation began work constructing Castle Hill Market. The site was next to the castle site, which had been purchased the year before by the Brightside and Carbrook Co-operative Society. During building excavations the ruins of the Castle were discovered
  • 1929 - The Markets Department produced a handbook which described Sheaf Market as follows: "The Sheaf Market is rather unique in its character, being a very large open market, and is chiefly used on Tuesdays and Saturdays by traders who bring their goods to market and expose them for sale on the stalls. It is a very popular market and if land was available could be considerably developed. Traders dealing in all classes of commodities attend, and the section used by the local fruit and vegetable growers, which is an early morning market, is let to Crockery sellers on the two market days. In the spring-time the market is crowded with plants and flowers, which find a ready sale amongst the suburban residents and allotment gardeners."
  • The handbook also stated that, "Formally the Live Poultry Market was held in the cellars under the Castlefolds Market, but this was found to be a very unsatisfactory situation, and it was transferred to a more suitable building in the Sheaf Market which had been used as a flour mill. Quite recently the interior has been fitted with up-to-date wire cages which entirely comply with requirement of the RSPCA. A very large business in live poultry is carried on here, also persons requiring defenders for their homes in the shape of canine friends are able to find their requirements in the market."
  • 1930 - Fitzalan Market Hall closed on 24th April 1930, and business transferred to Castle Hill Market which opened the following day. The market was officially opened by the Minister of Health, the Right Honourable Arthur Greenwood MP, on Friday 9th May 1930. The same year Smithfield Market closed and in 1940 the site ceased to be used as a fairground
  • 1930 - A new abattoir was opened at Cricket Inn Road, allowing closure of the old Castlegate Slaughterhouses. The abattoir continued in operation until 1982 when, because of stringent new hygiene requirements it was forced to close
  • 1940 - Sheffield was badly damaged during World War Two, and parts of the city centre were destroyed during the Sheffield blitz in December 1940. The Co-op building received a direct hit and was destroyed. Bailey bridges (mobile temporary structure) were used to enable Castle Hill Market to continue trading
  • 1947 - The Corn Exchange was badly damaged by fire which completely gutted the interior of the building. Only the shops on the frontage remained open. The building was finally demolished in 1964
  • 1959 - Castle Market was opened. The project had been primarily designed to re-house traders from the Norfolk Market Hall, which had already celebrated its centenary, but in addition extensive office and shop accommodation was provided. Following the transfer of traders, the old hall was demolished
  • 1961 - Parkway Wholesale Market was opened, and Castlefolds Market was demolished
  • 1964 - An extension to the new Castle Market was completed
  • 1973 - Sheaf Market Hall opened replacing the adjoining Rag and Tag Market - the last surviving relic of the original 19th century undertaking purchased from the Duke of Norfolk in 1899. The Rag and Tag Market was a great source of anecdotes concerning market life in Sheffield. John Coates, a former trader, recalled "the trader who sold miniature candlesticks made from gold, reportedly given him by an Afghan chief whose life he had saved in the Khyber Pass area." It appears to have been untrue. He also recalled the activities of the medicine men or "crocus workers" selling fake potions and cures to a sometimes gullible public
  • 1974 - The Setts open market was opened adjacent to the Sheaf Market Hall. With local government re-organisation the same year, which extended the city boundary to include Stockbridge, the local open air market became part of Sheffield Markets
  • 1976 - An open market was established at Moorfoot and, with the pedestrianisation of The Moor, the market was transferred to its present location in front of Atkinsons
  • 1986 - Further extension were made to The Moor market
  • 1988 - The Market Place was opened in the Crystal Peaks shopping centre, at Waterthorpe
  • 1996 - We announced early in 1996, the 700th anniversary year, a multi-million pound scheme to transform Castlegate Markets. A new market hall is to be built on the site of Sheaf Market, in line with the latest European Union food hygiene requirements. Castle Market will transfer to the new hall and that site will then be redeveloped to include shops, leisure facilities, riverside housing and the opening up of Castle ruins. A multi-storey car park will also be built between Commercial Street and Broad Street with a roof top market square linking Commercial Street and the new market hall. The then Sheffield City Council Leader, Mike Bower, stated: "Sheffield Markets are the economic heart of the Castlegate area. The redevelopment of the markets provides an exciting opportunity to create a landmark attraction that will reinvigorate the social and economic welfare of the city centre." 

For more information about the history of Sheffield visit the Local Studies Library.