The Market places were the most important economic and social centres of urban life from medieval times till the nineteenth century in the UK. During the time, these centres of buying and selling have experienced lots of transformations in terms of their physical, social and economic conditions. They have gone through physical transformation from street markets to innovative and functionalist market halls of Victorian era, social transformation and evolution of social classes of users, improvements of economic and social rules and regulations , economic transformation from mono-functional marketplaces to multi-functional elements that including a complex of buildings with various trading and non-trading activities.
Marketplaces had different functions in daily life of a city and its citizens. They where place of parliamentary elections for the country and the borough. They were used for open-air banquets to celebrate the accession or jubilee of a monarch, or the end of war. They were used for entertainments, from balloon ascents to bullfights. In the Middle Ages all markets had a market cross, a structure used to mark a market square in town, which had different uses during the time. The market cross developed during the time and gave way to statue or building, but the name ‘cross’ survived. The market cross had some socio-cultural and religious places as well. In the Middle Ages crosses gave market the divine protection which was invoked for every aspect of life, secular as well as religious. Because of the size and location, the marketplaces were frequently the centre of the town’s political activities as well.
Today, the British marketplaces are facing with decline. The rise of e-trading and e-marketplaces, trading illegal and fake products in marketplaces, the dominating growth of standardised chain stores and the economic crisis are reasons of decline for many marketplaces in the UK. However, the historic reviews indicate that old public marketplaces paved the way for modern department stores, supermarkets and shopping malls. Yet the marketplaces introduced physical evolution of types and forms (glass roofs, the multiple shop front facade, several shops under one roof, and large scale ventilation, heating and lighting) as well as social transformations in terms of trading and social activities (modern display and pricing practice, community formation and etc.). It is noteworthy that, the marketplace was often the centre of urban renewal. Because marketplace needed larger sites than were generally available, their construction usually led to the demolition of existing buildings and the reconfiguration of streets, changes that kept the public marketplace at the heart of the town’s social, political and commercial life. Despite major changes in retail environment, the old marketplaces fell out of fashion not only because they were no longer functional, but because they didn't fit into the current thinking about urban areas by professional planners, architects and government officials.
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