After discussing the issue of a ‘Covered Market’ at some length in 1869-70, Inverness Town Council decided to go ahead with a new building in a patch of disused land between Union Street and Queensgate.

It opened on 25th May 1870 – so the 150th anniversary of the opening of the Victorian Market will be celebrated in 2020.

“…the slight ceremony
was of the most meagre
description…”

The opening of the original Victorian Market took place at 12 noon on Wednesday 25th May 1870. It was not an auspicious occasion; the Inverness Advertiser had expected a full turnout of army militia volunteers, a public banquet and full ceremonial arrangements at the very least, especially as it was also the birthday of Queen Victoria, with the town bell ringing for three hours. Instead, the Town Council put on a desultory performance:

“… the slight ceremony, which our local dignitaries seem
to have been almost shamed into, was of the most meagre description. A procession was formed from the Exchange, in
which the Magistrates and Town Council took part, preceded
by the Town Officers with halberds, and the town brass band,
of rather a funeral character; and odd enough, as if some
wicked combination of events had been brought about to carry
the joke to its fullest extent, the procession was met and headed
in Inglis Street by a hearse, which discreetly slackened its pace
and allowed the magnates to pass without interruption. The
markets were declared open by Bailie Simpson, acting chief
magistrate, in the necessary absence of the Provost, after which
the procession was reformed and walked back to the Town Hall.”

This description of events in the pages of the Inverness Advertiser newspaper ends by saying that “the proceedings were neither lively nor interesting.”

For the benefit of the dignitaries a “table was laid in the Town Hall for refreshments.” There was a toast to Her Majesty on the occasion of her birthday; a toast to the success of the markets; a toast was proposed for the health of the Provost, Magistrates and Town Council; to the architect, Mr Laurie; and finally to the health of the contractors, to which a carpenter, Mr Robertson, replied by observing that they would all be very glad to see the Council commencing another job in a very short time! This was greeted by Laughter and Applause, according to the newspaper account.

The contractors adjourned to the Caledonian Hotel, where they drank the health of the Queen and the success of the Markets, in a bumper of champagne. “Several of the Magistrates and Town Councillors, the architect, and a few friends, dined together in the same hotel in the evening.” Perhaps all this jollity made up for the meagreness of the ceremony.

“…with a few hundred
pounds more…the markets
would have been better…”

Amidst all this self-congratulation the only slightly discordant note came when came when Bailie Mackintosh proposed the health of Mr Laurie, the architect:

“…who had designed and carried out the markets in a manner
that reflected great credit upon his. Everything had been done
very well and very speedily. Though money and ground were both
limited, Mr Laurie had given them an excellent market place. (Applause.)
Mr Laurie acknowledged the compliment, observing that nothing
gave him greater pleasure than to find his employers satisfied with his exertions. With a few hundred pounds more, of course, the markets would have been better, but they made the most of the means at their disposal.”