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Multi-use buildings constructed in the eighteenth century are quite common if we include those that feature living accommodation in addition to their primary purpose. If you were a baker, blacksmith, weaver, or any other tradesman or craftsman you invariably lived on the job. It was convenient for dealing with your customers and you were in a position to ensure the security of your stock and tools. However, the sort of structure that we see today, where offices, shops, hotels, even train stations or museums can find their home in a large, subdivided building, were quite unusual in the 1700s.
The grand, classically-styled town hall of Newark, Nottinghamshire, a building of 1774-6 built by the architect, John Carr of York, is an exception to this general rule. Because, at ground level, underneath the ballroom, civic rooms, robing room, offices and everything else that was required by the leaders of the community, is a market hall. For centuries market halls had been common structures in towns. In the Midlands and South they were often timber-framed, a room above and open at the bottom, the sheltered space supported by heavy wooden posts, and in the North they were frequently made of stone, sometimes with split stone tiles as a roof. The Newark example is altogether grander, featuring a space eight bays long and three bays wide with stone Doric arcades and a coffered roof. The floor is made of heavy stone "flags", and the whole gives the appearance of something made to withstand the knock-about of market life, a cool dark place suitable for displaying food, somewhere that will last.
And last it has. It is still used as a place where stalls are set up and goods sold. On the day of our visit there was only one proprietor at work. Was that a sign of people spending less or is it used more on some days than others, much like the market square outside? Whatever the reason it made taking a photograph that shows the architecture an easier task for me than it has been in the past.
photograph and text © Tony Boughen
Camera: Sony RX100
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 10.4mm (28mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f7.1
Speed: 1/30 sec
Exposure Compensation: -0.7 EV
Image Stabilisation: On