RETURNING to former glories, the ‘Cheese Market’ in Hay-on-Wye will re-open next month following a major restoration project.
Following a six-year campaign to save the old town hall – an important building in the cultural history of Hay – the work is finally approaching completion.
The King of Hay, Richard Booth, will join around 400 members of the local community in raising a glass – and sampling some cheese – at the official opening on April 19.
The Cheese Market will then host traders from the end of April, with two new Saturday markets – Hay Flea Market and Hay Local Producers Market – starting in May.
Clare Purcell, Heritage Activities Manager for the project said: ‘The restoration of Hay Cheese Market has been a wonderful opportunity for the community to take some time to learn about our local heritage.
“We have undertaken a great range of projects, one of which – an illustrated potted history of the building which uses many fantastic archive photographs –will be on permanent display in the Market Hall.
“Collected by local amateur historian Eric Pugh, the archive of photographs is a huge asset and really helps to bring the historical story Hay to life.’
Faced with the threat of losing the Cheese Market to private sale back in 2008, a group of local volunteers stepped in.
Hay Community Enterprise discovered a hidden covenant from the 1830s that stated that if the building was sold, it had to be offered back to original builders for half its initial price – the equivalent of £200.
Having tracked down the descendants of the original owner – Sir Joseph Bailey – the volunteers convinced Powys County Council to lease the building to them for public benefit.
Then, in 2012, the group were awarded a Heritage Lottery fund grant of almost £300,000 to begin work restoring and repairing the building.
As part of the work a breezeblock toilet was ripped out and the twin-arched Market Hall was once again revealed.
Now, with sweeping views over the rooftops of Hay, the Market Hall has been transformed into unique holiday accommodation that will be available to hire from the end of April.
Hay Castle, one of the towns other iconic buildings, will also find out on March 25 whether its own application for lottery funding has been successful – with a similar restoration project slated as soon as funding becomes available.
For further information about the project, or to hire the Market Hall /Cheese Market Flat please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.haycheesemarket.org .