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Old Market Hall

A Grade II Listed Building in Blaenau Ffestiniog, Gwynedd

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.9949 / 52°59'41"N

Longitude: -3.9416 / 3°56'29"W

OS Eastings: 269785

OS Northings: 345941

OS Grid: SH697459

Mapcode National: GBR 5Y.H90W

Mapcode Global: WH559.FZ9D

Plus Code: 9C4RX3V5+X9

Entry Name: Old Market Hall

Listing Date: 14 June 2021

Grade: II

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 70483

Building Class: Civil

Location: On the SW side of the parish church and immediately N of the railway line.

County: Gwynedd

Community: Ffestiniog

Community: Ffestiniog

Locality: Blaenau Ffestiniog

Built-Up Area: Blaenau Ffestiniog

Traditional County: Merionethshire

History

Blaenau Ffestiniog owed its existence as a town to the development of slate quarrying during the nineteenth century. The town grew slowly during the first half of the century, but development was rapid between c1860 and c1880, and it was during this period that it acquired the trappings of a fully-fledged industrial town. The market hall attests to the ambition of the town as it grew during this period: it was first built in 1861-4 on land donated by Mrs Oakeley, by a local builder, Owen Roberts of Dolgarregddu, to plans drawn up by Owen Morris of Porthmadog. The building was remodelled and extended not long afterwards (possibly in the early 1880s). The northern range probably survives substantially unaltered from the original building whilst the extent and character of the larger polygonal range largely reflects the later phase.

Exterior

The main market hall bock comprises a tall 2-storeyed range aligned north-south, with complex polygonal block projecting to its west. Lower 2-storeyed range to north. 1860s work is roughly coursed rubble; rock-faced stone for 1880s work. Slate roofs throughout, with terracotta ridge tiles to 1880s range, which has brick dentilled eaves to western elevations. Openings largely boarded up on inspection March 2020, but original joinery detail largely lost.

Eastern elevation of main block is of 5 bays, the central 3 bays brought forward under a half-hipped roof projecting from the main roofline, possibly added to main range of 1860s building. This projection has three doorways and a single window to ground floor, 2 windows above.. In the rubble-built left hand outer bay are doorways in both storeys, that in upper storey retaining original double doors (with small-pane margin-lit over-light visible on the inside). South gable return overlooking railway also rubble built, with 2 windows on each floor (one blocked). Rubble-built link to north range at right, with doorway and blocked window above. This is probably also part of the original 1860s building.

Polygonal wing advances to the west, with further polygonal projection in the centre of its western elevation. This is all part of the second phase of work, c1880. The roof of this projection is swept up into a small pavilion roof surmounted by cast-iron brattishing. Shallow segmentally arched openings to ground floor, round arched above. Paired windows to first floor of the projecting bay, with a decorative cast-iron balconette supported by stone corbels beneath them. Paired windows to ground floor, and doorway in left-hand return. Large round-headed arched doorways in the canted angles of the polygonal wing, one retaining ornate ironwork detail as fanlight. Two further doorways to the left, in the main range, and another up slate steps with remains of iron hand-rail in small block in angle between main range and polygonal wing.

The lower N range has a 4-window front facing north. Paired sash in the upper storey, replacement windows in the lower storey and doorway left of centre under an overlight (boarded up on inspection, March 2020). Additional doorway in west gable end, the door and its frame ornately moulded, with window alongside and 2 windows above, all replaced in probably original openings. East gable has low doorway with sash window above to left, and blocked opening to right.

Interior

The market hall consists of one large space on each floor, and is therefore much simpler than is suggested by the complicated plan as seen from the exterior. Walls are exposed rubble stone. In the lower storey are four rows of cast-iron columns supporting the long beams that carry the first floor. In the SE corner is a dog-leg stair with turned balusters (inaccessible at the time of inspection). The upper storey was evidently used as a theatre and retains remnants of an elliptical proscenium arch in plaster and wood. The roof has 2 bays oriented E-W with 5 bays at R angles to it. Complex roof framing with king- and queen-post trusses with raking struts, of Baltic pine and of unusually large dimensions; close-spaced rafters. The roof is also strengthened by iron tie rods.

In the N range the walls are faced with random rubble painted white. It is divided into 3 unequal units, with the stair and landing occupying the central unit. There is one fireplace in the lower storey, and fireplaces in both main rooms in the upper storey, all with large slate-stone lintels. The straight stair has replacement stick balusters, and moulded tread-ends. The landing balustrade is similar.

Reasons for Listing

Listed for its special architectural and historical interest as a large and distinctive market hall that embodied the commercial ambitions of Blaenau Ffestiniog in its emergence as one of the major industrial towns of nineteenth-century Wales.

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