The right to hold a market in Ross was granted in the 12th century by King Stephen. This stimulated the economy and encouraged trade with the surrounding countryside. There are records that indicate that Ross supported a variety of tradesmen, shops, market stalls, mills and iron forges during the reign of Edward 1.
The current Market Hall was built between 1650 and 1654, replacing an older probably wooden building, and is now used as the Ross Heritage Centre. Regular markets are still held under and in front of the Market House.
The Market House seen from Gloucester Road during the 2008 Ross Town Carnival (Click for a larger image)
House of the "Man of Ross"1 (Click for a larger image)
The Market House is one of the most famous views of Ross-on-Wye and crops up in most guidebooks that mention Ross. This is a typical example showing the House of the "Man of Ross" (John Kyrle) with the Market House to the right-hand side.
It is believed that the upper doorway, that can be seen on the north side, was the original entrance that was accessed via an external wooden staircase. It has been suggested that there is evidence that the internal staircase was added after 1690 due to its similarity with others in and around the town and from findings whilst renovation was carried out.2
The clock tower was a later addition and dates from the 18th Century although it may well have replaced an earlier structure removed due to problems sealing it with the roof.2
The market house from Broad Street (Click for a larger image)
Views of the market house from Gloucester Road (Click for a larger image)
View out from under the market house down Broad Street (Click for a larger image)
View from the market house balcony down Broad Street (Click for a larger image)
Plaque to Charles II on the market house (Click for a larger image)
The corner of the Market House (Click for a larger image)
The black mark up the corner of the Market House is because there was a chimney built up the side that has since been removed.
The clock was originally bought and put in place by public subscription on the Market House in 1852. The clock has seen 157 years tick past but the town has been strangely silent since October last year when the clock collapsed breaking the winding mechanism and the hourly chimes.
In October 2009 the clock mechanism in the Market House suffered a catastrophic collapse. This broke the clock itself and also the chimes.
Ross Civic Society kindly donated the money for the clock to be repaired and Hereford County Council said that they would pay half of the cost to restore the chimes.
That left £3000 needing to be raised. A.R.T. (the Association of Ross Traders) took it upon themselves to try and raise the money. The Association of Ross Traders (ART) organised the public collection and the money was raised in five weeks thanks to many independent personal gifts and local initiatives. Thanks to everyone who contributed. David Bruce, a representative from A.R.T. said:
"It was noticeable how much people have missed the hourly chimes and how fond and proud of the clock and the market house the people of Ross are. Money was dropped into a number of collecting boxes round the town and many generous personal donations were given, people have been so willing to help and we would like to thank everyone for their support."
The Market House clock tower (Click for a larger image)
The clock face (Click for a larger image)
Specialist engineers from J.B. Joyce and Co. arrived to remove the broken elements from the Ross-on-Wye town clock on Tuesday 13th July 2010.
The work was expected to take between three and five weeks as many of the very old parts need attention. Three thousand pounds was raised by the Association of Ross Traders thanks to many generous donations by individuals and organisations and the remaining balance was given by the Herefordshire County Council. Both the clock and the chime will be back working once again after this work is completed.
The broken clock workings [Photo: David Bruce] (Click for a larger image)
J.B. Joyce and Co. removing the clock works [Photo: David Bruce] (Click for a larger image)
On Monday 2nd August 2010 the mechanism was returned by J.B. Joyce and Co.
Extensive repairs had been carried out and the town clock in Ross started to ring out the hours once again during that week.
J.B. Joyce and Co. returning the clock mechanism [Photo: David Bruce] (Click for a larger image)