WHEN the New Market Place was demolished to make way for the Festival Place shopping centre, local folk thought that they had lost a valuable site to acquire items not available in the shops, as well as a place where they could meet their friends and relatives for a chat before visiting the nearby cafés for tea or coffee.

Those same people have discovered a new market tucked away in the area known as Festival Square, where they can buy fresh food and meet for that friendly gathering.

This market, with indoor stalls as well as outdoor ones, sells a wide variety of goods, including meats of all sorts, fish, dairy products, bread, cakes and many other items which are tasty to eat and enjoy.

READ MORE: Basingstoke historian shares town's secrets in new book

Basingstoke Gazette: The cattle market in the 1950sBasingstoke has had a market ever since 1214, when it was held in the old Market Place every Wednesday. Old records state that markets were held before then, but they do not specify where and on what days they were held.

With the introduction of local newspapers in the late 18th century, further details became available. Much can be read of what goods were sold as well as their prices.

In 1834, the market was held at Old Basing because of a dispute over fees being paid to the local council. Each stallholder had to pay a certain sum to the town hall keeper, who acted as the council’s market-fee collector.

Hampshire has a rich history of market trading and by the end of the 14th century, the county had at least 40 markets in its various towns and villages. These markets were controlled and regulated by Royal Charters. By 1850, there were only 21 markets in Hampshire.

SEE ALSO: Flashback: History of St Michael’s Parish Church

Among the markets were ones for selling cattle and others for selling various goods.

In 1973, a Mr Raynbird held a Christmas sale of livestock on a patch of ground near the railway station. The success of this event led to further sales of cattle every month, followed by every week.

He was in charge of a corn and seed business in Clifton Terrace, and the land next to his office was taken over as a cattle market, which continued as such until it closed down in May 1966 to make way for town development.

It was never replaced, but with the closure of many farms in the Basingstoke area – to allow housing estates and industrial and commercial areas to be built – there were fewer farmers to attend the markets.

Other Hampshire cattle markets were to close in later years, including one at Winchester in July 1989.

Meanwhile, in Basingstoke, the New Market Place, near the bus station, which saw the first stalls being set up in September 1966, gave the local people the chance to have an extra market to visit, as well as the one in the old Market Place.

It was to close down in September 1999, but a temporary market was allowed near the Wote Street Club until that land was needed for the present Festival Place.

To be a market stallholder you have to be tough – standing for hours in all sorts of weather to sell your products is sometimes soul-destroying, especially in wintry weather.

But just remember, without these people in the market selling their goods, Basingstoke would not be quite the same.

This feature was first published on January 10, 2003