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History

After surviving two world wars, Hurwood's, the baby and nursery goods store known to generations of Bristolians, finally closed its doors for the last time in August 2006 - more than 100 years after it started trading.

Hurwood's had been selling nursery equipment from its Old Market store since 1899 and generations of Bristol families have bought their prams there. The Cabot Mews development is delighted to retain the name of this famous Bristol landmark in its Hurwood House building overlooking Old Market Street.

Old Market is a conservation area of national significance. The area contains some of Bristol’s most ancient buildings, including the last two remaining houses jettied over the pavement and over sixty listed buildings.

Initially Old Market was where troops gathered because it was right outside a castle. However it later became a market where country people set up stalls and sold their goods, this is how it got its name.

The Pie Poudre Court was also established and held in the street to sort disputes and punish criminals on the spot. Pie Poudre comes from the Norman words meaning “dusty feet”, and refers to the fact that both the accusers and the accused came along just as they were to receive justice. This ancient ceremony lasted until the 1970s, when an Act of Parliament brought an end to such variances in the legal system.

These announcements took place outside the Stag and Hounds, a 17th century inn which is still in use today. Its first floor is supported on columns, providing a covered pavement area at the front. Additionally to the inn there are several other examples of 17th Century architecture in the street. For example Kingsley Hall was built in 1706 and was used for trade meetings or whist drives. The building is made from Flemish Bond bricks and its front overhangs the pavement, supported by stout columns.

Between the Victorian era and World War II, Old Market benefited from being adjoined to the Castle Street shopping area and thrived from its popularity until the shopping area was destroyed during the war. The post-war Broadmead shopping precinct was further away and as a result trade in Old Market suffered with shops being closed, firms moving away, and the buildings becoming more rundown.

A 1980s report stated 'Due for demolition for road improvement, the whole of Old Market Street and West Street was blighted, decayed and mostly abandoned. The fine timber buildings facing the mediaeval market were only saved by a public inquiry.' This was the turning point in Old Market's fortunes.

Old Market has since been designated a conservation area and is now undergoing rapid regeneration.