Oxford City Council agrees £1.3m to complete Covered Market roof refurbishment

Published: Wednesday, 22nd August 2018

Oxford City Council has agreed the final £1.3m investment to complete a long-term refurbishment of the Covered Market roof that will secure the structure for around another 60 to 80 years.

The refurbishment to the roof of the Grade II-listed Covered Market, in the city centre conservation area, started in 2010 and has so far seen £500,000 spent by the City Council on the first three phases of the seven phase project.

The City Council’s City Executive Board agreed the £1.3m funding for the final four phases of the project, which will take place over the next four years.

The roof has a timber frame and is constructed from traditional Welsh Slate, and cast iron trusses and tie beams. The work will include refurbishing and replacing the slating and timberwork, and external decorations.

The total £1.8m investment in securing the long-term future of the roof is part of a £3.1m Oxford City Council project to refurbish the historic Oxford Covered Market. The other £1.3m will be spent on internal refurbishment, decorations and flooring.

Oxford City Council is funding the splitting of vacant units within the Covered Market to meet the needs of potential new traders. £130,000 is being invested to split the former fishmongers unit in Avenue 1, and £40,000 to split the former Helen & Douglas House unit in the cross avenue at the end of avenue 2 and 3.

The only other vacant units within the Covered Market are the former Macsamillion units and the former Mc Carthy’s greengrocers. Macsamillion appointed a voluntary liquidator, according to Companies House, on Friday (17/8).

The City Council is also working with Oxford Preservation Trust to preserve original and historic features in the former Lindsey’s butchers unit. The City Council is looking to carry out a feasibility study in the near future to investigate the potential options for preserving the features.

As the roof restoration project is highly-specialised, is in the city centre conservation area and is on a Grade II-listed building, the City Council has opted to hire Croft Building & Conservation Ltd to carry out phases four to seven of the repair and refurbishment.

Croft Building & Conservation Ltd, which has also preserved cathedrals, churches, stately homes and castles across the country, has already completed the first three phases of the project.

Oxford Covered Market first opened in 1774, and was gradually roofed over during the last 50 years of the 19th century. The structure is not one single roof but more than a dozen gable roofs.

Over recent months, the City Council has focused on the promotion of Oxford Covered Market whilst the Covered Market Traders’ Association is being reinvigorated.

Since then, the City Council has organised dance taster sessions, held Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland-themed events for Alice’s Day, installed Banksy-style artwork to raise awareness for endangered animals, and hung a series of animal, fish and vegetable sculptures within the Covered Market.                            

The Covered Market features more than 50 traders selling food, gifts, shoes, fashion, flowers and jewellery, and provides a unique showcase for the very best in local crafts, food and drink.

Councillor Mary Clarkson, Executive Board Member for Culture and City Centre, said: “Oxford City Council is the custodian of the almost 250-year-old Oxford Covered Market. We take that responsibility seriously and we are investing £3.1m to refurbish the internal space and ensure the roof will last for generations.

“The Covered Market – like markets across the country – is currently going through a period of evolution as people’s shopping habits change, and we are working with prospective new traders to make sure our units meet their needs.

“Oxford Covered Market is the jewel in the crown of Oxford’s retail offer, and it’s filled with local and independent retailers that showcase the very best of local food and drink, crafts, gifts, and fashion. I would encourage everyone to see this for themselves – and, while they’re there, to do their weekly food shopping.”