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Market 800 – Celebrating the 800th anniversary of Loughborough Market and Fair

Market 800 was a partnership project between Leicestershire County Council, Charnwood Borough Council, and Loughborough Library Local Studies Volunteers. It explored the market and fair through the ages – capturing its history to the modern-day connections.

Volunteers have been integral to the Market 800 project. The decision was made to have historical and contemporary sections to the market exhibition in Charnwood Museum. Who better to research and form the historical panels then the Loughborough Library Local Studies Volunteers (LLLSV). From the start, the LLLSVs have been organised with their time, using 2020’s lockdowns to dig into the detail. Click here to read about their experience.

To co-collaborate on the contemporary panels, we recruited volunteers to help us connect with Loughborough’s modern market shoppers and traders. Our aim was to gather the memories of local people and use these memories as the heart of the contemporary part of the exhibition, as it is the people that make the market what it is!

The interviews

Following training from the University of Leicester the volunteers remotely interviewed members of the public via video and telephone calls. They tailored their interview questions for each interviewee to try and capture each persons’ unique background and experience of the market and fair. They spent time carefully crafting ways to bring to light forgotten stories, giving them the attention they deserve. The tales that have been told show just how much the market and the fair mean to the community. They are part of the hub where people can share time and space, interconnecting with those around them. The volunteers gained insight into many of the shared experiences which came to light from the interviews. This was invaluable when it came to putting the stories into the panels.

Due to the pandemic and lockdowns, the Market 800 team had to mostly rely on video calls to share ideas. Volunteers were involved in our digital ‘Meet Up’ sessions, which members of the public joined, to share memories and stories of the market. We found that relaxed conversation and a bit of show and tell works wonders at bringing forth memories and reminiscence.

Co-curating the exhibitions

The project culminated in the creation of two separate exhibitions at Charnwood Museum and Loughborough Town Hall. These exhibits were co-curated with the volunteers, with the team choosing which quotes, memories, and pictures to feature on the panel. Not an easy task when there were so many interesting stories to tell! Having their own personal connections to the Market meant that the volunteers have not only volunteered their time but also some of their cherished objects which featured in the market exhibition.

View from above of the market featuring stalls and bunting.

The volunteers

The project has had many volunteers from its conception, all providing us with the gift of their knowledge and experience. Our volunteers have offered much insight, patience and motivation to achieve the project aims. Their thoughtful approaches to interviewing and their personable natures have been invaluable to the project, which is clearly demonstrated in the finished exhibition and interviews.


Thank you to all involved!


Didn’t get the chance to see the exhibits? Don’t worry, we’ve got it covered. Click here to explore and discover these stories, memories and experiences and see (and hear) for yourself just why the market and fair remains at the heart of Loughborough’s community.