Restoration Works at Historic Market Cross in Newtownards

Monday 16th November 2020

Ards and North Down Borough Council’s restoration works at the historic Market Cross in Newtownards – the only surviving 17th Century market cross in Northern Ireland – have ensured the continued longevity of this very unique, 384-year old monument.

The Market Cross in Newtownards following its recent restoration work

Following a Notice of Motion that was submitted by Alderman Stephen McIlveen and supported by Councillors Colin Kennedy and Naomi Armstrong-Cotter, Officers at Ards and North Down Borough Council were tasked with restoring Market Cross.

Those restoration plans and subsequent works were carried out by Alastair Coey Architects and JPM Contracts Ltd. They included the preservation of the monument’s stonework and roof as well as the restoration of metalwork, while signage outlining its history was funded by the Department for Communities.

Most of the works are now complete and this monument of national significance, which was originally built in 1636, has been protected from further deterioration.

The Mayor of Ards and North Down, Councillor Trevor Cummings, said:

“This is one of the only market crosses in Ireland and it was once regarded to be at the centre of commerce in Newtownards. Also known locally as the Old Cross, the drum of the monument dates from 1636 and represents the strong links that existed between Ards and Scotland at the time.

“It has been in Council’s ownership since the early 1970s and while some restorative works have been carried out since then, it was in need of additional work to help protect what is an important piece of our country’s heritage. I am delighted to see the works being completed and I hope that residents and visitors to the town will be able to appreciate this historic monument.”

The proposer of the Motion, Alderman Stephen McIlveen, commented:

“Given the historical and cultural significance of the Market Cross, it was extremely sad to see it reduced to such a neglected state: overgrown with weeds and disintegrating. The Cross is modelled on the octagonal Scottish versions similar to the Mercat Cross in Parliament Square, Edinburgh. In its original form, it would have been where public announcements were made and was a symbol of the right granted to Newtownards to hold a regular market. The Cross indicates the historic importance of Newtownards as a mercantile centre.

“In bringing my motion to restore the historic monument, I wanted to protect the Cross from falling into further disrepair and secure its future. I also wanted to ensure that the people of Newtownards and the rest of the Borough were made aware of the significance of the monument and a little bit of its history. I am delighted with the works which have been carried out and feel that it has now regained some aspect of its former glory.”

In addition to the works, the Department for Communities funded signage was installed opposite the Market Cross at the corner of High Street, detailing its rich history as well as other places of interest in Newtownards.

For more information about the history of the Market Cross, see visitardsandnorthdown.com/marketcross