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Old Market Building - Topsham Central Garage

Page updated 30 September 2008

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Central Garage, and the buildings on either side don't at first glance appear to be of much significance, and indeed, don't at first glance, appear to be related at all.

However, if you take a closer look, you will notice that the right hand building has two arches at the front, the left hand building three arches over the windows and doors. Looking behind the Central Garage sign, you can just discern two arches. The seven arches were once the front of the old market in Topsham. The arches were probably open to Fore Street. Dating from 1791, it was built by the Market House Trust and the rent used for other projects and charitable purposes in Topsham, such as the creation of the Goatwalk in 1910 for £325.

The upper storeys were a later addition, and traces of the original façade can be seen over the last arches on the right. In 1845, part was leased to William Clapp, and part retained for the towns fire engine and lock-up.

From 1866 the building under the left hand arches was converted in a police station, probably accounting for the extra floor. Behind the police station, beyond the small walled yard is a pitched roof building that was the town gaol. The present proprietor of Central Garage took on the business in 1970, when it ceased being a police station.

By 1897, the the remainder of the building was Thomas E Hopewell & Co, a furniture warehouse and by 1902, drapery was added to the shops stock. Thomas Hopewell was also the proprietor of T & H Gubb, ironmonger's, also of Fore Street.

The premises became Gould's Motor Garage & Works in 1915; they were also marine engineers. By 1939 the premises were the Topsham Garage, with Reginald Mingo as proprietor.

When the LDV or Home Guard was formed in Topsham, the local recruits used pitchforks, scythes and axes as improvised weapons. In the Autumn of 1940, First World War US rifles, bayonets and ammunition arrived for the Home Guard, and an office in the garage was requisitioned as an arms store and Guard House. Any reports of enemy paratroopers or other activity from the lookouts around Topsham, were reported to the Guard Room and then relayed to the Area Command - in the event, they had little to do. As previously stated, the present proprietor took over the garage in 1970, and it became Central Garage. The right hand building is now Jackson-Stops, estate agents.

Old Market BuildingThe modern Central Garage.Old Market BuildingTaken in 1912, Hopewells the Drapers. In the doorway are Miss Gliddon and Miss Radford.

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