Cambridge Corn Exchange
Building the venue
The site, on the corner of Wheeler Street and Corn Exchange Street, was earmarked for a new Corn Exchange in 1868 to replace the existing corn exchange on St Andrew's Street to the east. The site was originally the remains of the Priory of Friars Hermits which had been on the site since the Middle Ages. The priory was passed to a museum in New Zealand. The foundation stone was laid by the Mayor in 1874 and the building was opened in 1875. A quarter of a million local bricks were used in various colours. The opening concert was a performance on 9 November by the Coldstream Guards and a local choral society. During the playing of the National Anthem a mistake was made, and angry crowds subsequently attacked the Mayor's house. The resulting trial attracted the world's press and resulted in crowds of sightseers making visits to the building, interfering with the corn trading.
The site was a popular location for events throughout the 20th century. The first Motor Show of many was held in 1898, The venue hosted the London Symphony Orchestra in 1925 and one thousand people were given tea at Tea For a Thousand in 1935. During the 1940s the venue was used to clean and repair rifles by local women. After the war, the venue was popular for boxing, wrestling and roller skating. The floor was usually marked out for Badminton trails[clarification needed] which were held in the building.
In 1965, the venue was stopped being used for trading after the Cattle Market site was opened as an alternative. In the 1970s the building was used for pop concerts and one-day exhibitions. In 1971 1,000 fans caused a riot after The Drifters failed to appear onstage. In 1972 Syd Barrett made his last public appearance at the venue supporting MC5.
The venue was closed in 1981 after the roof was found to be unsafe and following complaints from local residents about noise levels. The building was refitted and reopened in 1986 following public pressure and various grants and donations. The reopening was a performance by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
The venue is grant-aided by the Arts Council of England, Eastern Arts Board, Eastern Orchestral Board & the New Audiences Fund. It is used for numerous touring events, including music groups, comedians and theatre groups. Performers who have played the venue include The Who, Pink Floyd, My Bloody Valentine, Manic Street Preachers, Oasis, The Smiths, Iron Maiden, David Bowie, Tin Machine, Queen, Lily Allen and Take That.
- "The history of the Corn Exchange". CornEx.co.uk. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge City Council. Retrieved 23 Jun 2011.
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