Kettering’s Market Place has been town’s focal point for centuries

An old picture of the Market Place from the Telegraph archives, date unknown
An old picture of the Market Place from the Telegraph archives, date unknown

Kettering’s Market Place has been a focal point in the town for centuries, as these photographs from the Telegraph’s archive demonstrate.

This week, a new bar/restaurant called Kino Lounge is set to open at the old Corn Exchange building in the Market Place.

However, Kino Lounge will only be the latest incumbent in a part of Kettering town centre which has seen hundreds of traders and businesses over the years.

The town was granted a market charter by Henry III on March 17, 1227.

Apart from trade, the Market Place has also hosted social occasions and celebrations.

On May 11, 1910, thousands of people packed into the market to hear the Proclamation of King George V.

In Tony Smith’s book, Fred Moore’s Kettering, Tony wrote: “[The proclamation] was given by the High Sheriff of Northamptonshire, in court dress, from a special platform for civic leaders and VIPs erected in front of Vint’s Electric Palace (the former Corn Exchange).

“Shops and factories closed and schoolchildren were given a half-day holiday to attend and flags were raised after being at half-mast when the king died.

“Even the top of the parish church nave was occupied and the more daring even climbed a high telephone pole.

“A vote of thanks was given by urban council chairman Cllr L E Bradley, met by much cheering, waving of handkerchiefs and a chorus of ‘Hip, hip, hooray!’.”

Several years later, in 1915, soldiers from the Scottish Horse Regiment were inspected on the Market Place shortly before heading for France to join the First World War fighting.

That event was echoed much more recently when soldiers from the Royal Anglian Regiment paused in the market Place during their march through Kettering in July when they were inspected by town mayor Duncan Bain.

Again, the Market Place was the gathering point on May 10, 1945, when thousands of people once again gathered to mark VE Day.

Tony Smith, again writing about the event, said: “Thousands of Kettering people attended a united open-air thanksgiving service for VE Day.

“Many wore black in memory of a son or husband lost in the war, some thinking perhaps of a brother or friend still fighting in the Far East.

“All windows facing the Market Place were thrown open and, as well as those braving the pouring rain around the platform of dignitaries, hundreds more lined adjacent streets.

“The public holiday was even observed by the Evening Telegraph, which failed to publish that day although reporters and photographers were out and about covering street parties and other festivities for he next day’s edition.”

In recent years, the Market Place has once again undergone a large revamp.

Kettering Council has re-paved the entire area, building an amphitheatre-style area in front of the old Corn Exchange and several new buildings have been constructed between the parish church and the market square, occupied at present by Chimichanga and Prezzo.

Those buildings, of course, replaced ones demolished decades earlier, including the former Albion Temperance Hotel.

Events also continue to be held there, even if the Market Place no longer plays host to a regular market. Kettering By The Sea brought hundreds of people into the area during the summer holidays and the recent Royal Anglian march also saw huge crowds gather there to welcome the troops returning from a tour of duty in Afghanistan.