All About Salisbury

For the Community by the Community

Butcher Row in the town centre.

Salisbury holds a Charter market on Tuesdays and Saturdays and has held markets regularly since 1227. In the 15th century the Market Place had four crosses: the Poultry Cross, whose name describes its market, the 'Cheese and Milk Cross', which indicated that market and was in the triangle between the HSBC bank and the Salisbury Library, a third cross near the site of the present war memorial, which marked a woollen and yarn market and a fourth, called Barnwell or Barnards Cross, in the Culver Street and Barnard Street area, which marked a cattle and livestock market. Today, only the Poultry Cross remains, to which flying buttresses were added in 1852.

In 1226, Henry III granted the Bishop of Salisbury a charter to hold a fair lasting eight days from the Feast of the Assumption of Mary (15 August). Over the centuries the dates of the fair have moved around, but in its modern guise, a funfair is now held in the Market Place for three days from the third Monday in October.

From 1833 to the mid-1980s, the Salisbury Gas Light & Coke Company, which ran the city's gasworks, were one of the major employers in the area. The company was formed in 1832 with a share capital of £8,000, and its first chairman was the 3rd Earl of Radnor. The company was incorporated by a private Act of Parliament in 1864, and the Gas Orders Confirmation Act 1882 empowered it to raise capital of up to £40,000. At its peak, the gasworks were producing not only coal gas but also coke, which was sold off as the by-product of gas-making. Ammoniacal liquor, another by-product, was mixed with sulphuric acid, dried and ground to make a powder which was sold as an agricultural fertiliser. The clinker from the retort house was sold to a firm in London to be used as purifier beds in the construction of sewage works.

From the Middle Ages to the start of the 20th century, Salisbury was noted for its cutlery industry. Early motor cars were manufactured in the city from 1902 by Dean and Burden Brothers, using the Scout Motors brand. In 1907 the company moved to a larger factory at Churchfields; each car took six to eight weeks to build, mostly using bodies made elsewhere by coachbuilders. By 1912, 150 men were employed and the company was also making small commercial vehicles and 20-seater buses, some of which were later used by the newly established Wilts & Dorset operator. The Scout company failed in 1921 after wartime disruption and competition from larger makers.