The Hay-on-Wye Community Enterprise CIC, a community interest company set up by a group of local people to save and restore the Cheese Market building, manages the Cheese Market. Directors include Juliet Noble (Chair), John Evans, Chris Armstrong, Fiona Howard, Ian Jardin and Clare Purcell.
The CIC exists to create social wealth for the benefit of residents and visitors to Hay-on-Wye. It has two main aims:
To provide financial support for the development of environmentally responsible land and buildings, which will be used for not-for-profit community purposes
To provide financial and technical support for not-for-profit community events and projects
The Hay Fund was set up by the CIC to use money generated by the Cheese Market apartment and market hall to support local community projects. The CIC currently runs an annual profit of around £5,000, some of which is put aside for ongoing maintenance of the Cheese Market building, with the surplus used for Hay Fund grants.
The Hay Fund
The Hay Fund provides small grants to local initiatives and community events, of which it has supported a number over the four years since it was set up, including:
Hay Independence Day celebrations; The Hay Theatre CIC; Marches Book Arts Group book arts trail; Bryngwyn Riding for the Disabled; Hay Scouts Group Hunted Camp Weekend; Canoe Club Hay; Snodhill Castle restoration launch; Hay Christmas Lights Appeal; and Hay Walking Festival.
For details on how you can apply to the Hay Fund email gro.tekrameseehcyah@ofni.
History of the Cheese Market
The Cheese Market was built around 1835 on the site of a pre-17th century guildhall. At that time, the castle steps ran from the Normal tower to the street and people walked through the market hall down into High Town. In 1833 Sir Joseph Bailey, a wealthy baronet who resided in Hay Castle, commissioned the rebuilding of the town hall, described as a ‘neat and substantial building… which consists of an upper room with an open space below, supported on pillars, used as a cheese market’.
The building has had various uses. Originally the upstairs meeting room, now the apartment was where the Lord of the Manor’s Court received taxes and fines from farmers and market traders. It was then variously used as a theatre, a chapel by a missionary from Madagascar, a public meeting space, a Masonic Hall and a Catholic Church. In more recent years the market hall was split in half; one of the hall arches bricked up and used as a public toilet, with the other used to store market stalls.
The Cheese Market Project began in 2008 when local people campaigned to save the derelict building, which the council had put up for sale. They discovered a covenant stating that if the building were sold, it must be offered back to the original owners, Sir Joseph Bailey’s Glanusk Estate, at half the initial price, just £200! The Estate gave permission to restore the building and return it to public use.
The group, formalized as Hay Community Enterprise CIC, successfully applied to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a grant, which complemented local fundraising, a private donation and sales of mosaic pieces and frieze tiles. A major restoration project was undertaken and the building re-opened as a useable market hall and first floor holiday accommodation in 2014. The CIC retains the building on a 99-year lease from Powys County Council.