by Paul Nix
Market Street started out as a narrow alley called Sheep Lane but due to its limited width quite a few accidents happened, pedestrians going up meeting carts coming down caused people to be squashed against the sides – usually resulting in blood stains on the floor and wall. This led to the locals referring to it as Blood Lane.
When it was widened (civic improvements in 1866) the aim of the Gentry was to name it Theatre Street, because it led from the Market Square to the Theatre Royal. The market people had other ideas and the night before the official unveiling some of them unscrewed the sign and replaced it with one stating Market Street.
The following day was market day and everyone, the Gentry and the market people, congregated at the bottom of the widened Sheep Lane for the opening ceremony.
The Mayor pulled on the cord to revel the new sign and proclaimed the new roadway to be “Market Street”, even though a portion of the assembled crowd – mostly Gentry – complained; but they were heavily outnumbered, and tried to point out the Mayor’s error when it was already too late.