A new market place for Dudley town centre was completed in the Spring of 2015. Here, Hardscape takes a look back at the project.
Located in Dudley’s historic market place, the scheme includes a newly designed market featuring 74 stalls, new paving, feature lighting and street furniture. The project involved the repositioning and refurbishment of the Duncan Edwards statue as well as the restoration of an historic fountain. A statue of the Earl of Dudley was also reset within a raised lawn.
Four planning applications for the project totalling £4.1m were submitted for approval by Dudley Council together with a further £2.6m from the European Regional Development Fund.
The project was split in to two phases with Phase One incorporating the redevelopment of Castle Street from the Earl of Dudley statue to the junction of New Street. By working closely with Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council, Fitzgerald contractors were able to progress onto Phase Two where the design of the market place stalls incorporated artwork and clocks to improve the medieval passages in the conservation area of the town centre. This included a bronze statue of Ben Boucher who is reported to have been fond of his beer, which he paid for by selling poems.
There is also a mural depicting a view into an archaeological dig which took place in 2014 (before the construction of the new market stalls) located in the central route between the town’s market stalls – under a covered glass arcade. The mosaic imagines a view of the buildings of an old street – Middle Row – which once occupied part of the town’s marketplace and was designed by borough artist Steve Field
The project also involved moving the public toilets to pave the way for a landmark statue of Duncan Edwards which needed to be repositioned.
The Portland Stone benches presented the main challenge, as Hardscape had to select appropriate horizons within the Portland quarry to use – for the bench tops and legs.
One of Hardscape’s earliest example artscape projects was used to depict extracts from Ben Boucher’s humorous 1827 poem, ‘Lines on Dudley Market’. This involved intricate motifs and lettering which was sandblasted and coloured into the surface of the bench.
The Portland Stone, used for the first time by Hardscape, was selected to match the stone used for the town’s fountain situated behind the benches.
Fagley UK sandstone paving and setts, Crystal Black and Kobra Green granite paving and setts with Crystal Black granite corduroy tactiles and artscape ellipses, featuring a poem penned by Black Country poet John Edgar.
Two curved bespoke 1200mm x 4400mm Portland Stone artscape benches each supplied in three sections with radiating joints, 50mm radius corners and 10mm radius to the top edges.
In September 2015 Dudley Market’s historic 150 year old fountain pumped out water again for the first time in 70 years and a family fun day was arranged to mark the occasion.
Dudley Council’s, Strategic Director, Alan Lunt, said at the time: “Dudley Market is at the heart of the town centre, which is why it was essential that we picked the strongest team to build on the work and investment delivered by Dudley Council.”
Councillor Judy Foster, member for regeneration, also commented: “I am thrilled that we are continuing to move forward with our exciting plans to redevelop Dudley’s historic market place and give prominence to our special features in the town centre.