CHARD SOMERSET LETTING MARKET TOLLS. UK
Letting of the Chard Market Tolls. The Guildhall, Chard Somerset. April 1975;
Mayor of Chard, Maurice Lillington, right, past Mayor Ernest Ashman (Mayor 1950-52), centre, and on the left George Smith, an official with the then Yeovil District Council.
A Royal Charter dating back to 29th June 1683 empowered the town to hold three annual fairs and three weekly markets on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
Historically the right to let the tolls has lain with the burgesses and then Chard Borough Council, but on reorganisation in 1974 the responsibility moved to the new District Council. Chard market tolls are auctioned off against the clock, as sand trickled through an hourglass. After the sand has run out once, the hourglass is turned and further bids could still be made. The sand had to run out a total of three times before the final lessee was decided.
In 1975, the market was held on Boden Street car park, and there were only two or three stalls. ( Four people attended the auction ) Later the site moved to an old Lace Mill, and then they were held in the street. The hourglass auctions ended in the later 1980s because the tolls were becoming more valuable and there were even threats of violence as traders vied with each other.