NOSTALGIA: A reminder that less can be more - Peterborough Corn Exchange

Peterborough Corn Exchange  by St John's Church
Peterborough Corn Exchange by St John's Church
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Of all the changes to Peterborough city centre in the past few years, few have been as welcome as the removal of the Corn Exchange building.

Not only did it remove, as Prince Charles might have said, a carbuncle on the city landscape, it also created St John’s Square and opened up the area around St John’s Church.

Picture taken in the old corn exchange

Picture taken in the old corn exchange

The original Corn Exchange was built on the site of a theatre and opened in 1848.

As the undated drawing shows (top) it was a more elegant building than what followed later.

The market hall had an area of 5,000sq ft and was available for public speaking.

The picture above is a rare shot inside the building, but sadly I have no other information about it.

Peterborough Corn Exchange readied for demolition

Peterborough Corn Exchange readied for demolition

Among the famous visitors were Charles Dickens, who visited in 1855 and then again four years later, and Emily Pankhurst who in 1911 gave a talk on votes for women.

In 1954 the Corn Exchange was converted into an entertainments venue and was very popular for dance and roller skating events. It hosted many events including wrestling and even a concert by the Rolling Stones in September 1963.

The corn market was transferred to the cattle market in 1961 and three years later the building was demolished. The third picture shows the building being prepared for demolition.

It was replaced by the Norwich Union building which even back then was widely criticised for its ugliness and proximity to the church, even though the planners claimed it had been designed to “harmonise with the surrounding buildings.’’

The Norwich Union building which replaced the Corn Exchange

The Norwich Union building which replaced the Corn Exchange

Poet John Betjeman dubbed it the “eggbox’’. The “eggbox’’ later became home to the city’s main post office before a far more enlightened planning decision paved the way for demolition in 2009.

If you have any memories of the Corn Exchange please get in touch - email nigel.thornton@jpress.co.uk

The Norwich Union building which replaced the Corn Exchange

The Norwich Union building which replaced the Corn Exchange