This is an opinion piece from Oxford City Council leader Susan Brown.

Oxford’s beloved Covered Market, like markets across the country, is changing to meet our changing needs.

No longer just places to buy your weekly essentials, markets across the country are undergoing a renaissance, and are becoming destinations in themselves, places where people want to spend more time.

We have embraced this change in Oxford, with the city council recently approving an investment of almost £7m to safeguard the Covered Market’s unique historic charm, while making the market more resilient to current and future trends.

Oxford Mail: Susan Brown at the Covered MarketSusan Brown at the Covered Market (Image: Oxford City Council)

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Plans include a pedestrian-friendly Market Street and opening up additional communal space in the area for people to relax, socialise and enjoy cultural events.

The Covered Market has always been a place of innovation.

The original Market, opened in 1774, was a public health initiative and it’s now one of only a handful of continuously trading 18th century covered markets in England.

Oxford Mail: City council leader Susan BrownCity council leader Susan Brown (Image: Oxford City Council)

The Market originated in 1772-4 to the designs of John Gwynn, architect of Magdalen Bridge, as a market for meat, fish, poultry, vegetables and herbs, to replace the street markets in Fish Street (St Aldates) and Butchers Row (Queen Street).

Work on the foundations of the Covered Market began in May 1772 to replace the proliferation of market stalls that impeded access along the main streets.

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Although very little of Gwynn’s 18th-century construction remains, the layout and stone foundations remain to this day.

By 1775, there were 28 shops and 40 butcher’s shops, divided into blocks by wide avenues.

The shops were constructed on stone foundations and were timber-framed with lath and plaster walls with Stonesfield slate roofs and surrounding stone colonnades.

At the north end of the Market, there was an open area for fishermen, gardeners and other goods.

There were three entrances to the Market along Jesus College Lane (Market Street).

Next year, the Market will celebrate its 250th anniversary.

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Constantly changing as tastes and interests evolve, its current traders offer a wide selection of goods, from butchers, greengrocers, cheesemongers and florists to specialist produce, cafés, bars, gifts, experiences, a bookshop, fashion and lifestyle products.

The Market’s latest innovation, which began in May, is a year-long trial of extended opening hours on Thursday-Saturday nights until 11pm.

Over 700 people visited during the first week, so if you haven’t been yet, come along!

We have many traders taking part in the late opening, including Sofi de France, Gulp Fiction, Teardrop Bar, Colombia Coffee, as well as Tap Social with ‘The Market Tap’.

With a range of upcoming events including comedy nights, talks and even crochet lessons, I urge everybody to come along and find enjoy our wonderful Market.