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This was a result of the prominence of the area in the cloth trade.In the 16th century and 17th century, Mercer Street rapidly developed and became cramped.In the late 18th century, street commissioners were authorised to buy and demolish houses in the town centre, including houses surrounding the Bull Ring, and to centre all market activity in the area.This was a result of new markets being established across the city in scattered locations creating severe congestion.

Immigrants set up businesses such as flower-sellers and umbrella vendors.The Lord Nelson statue became the location for preaching and political protests.Well-known preachers of the time were nicknamed Holy Joe and Jimmy Jesus.The site is located on the edge of the sandstone city ridge which results in the steep gradient towards Digbeth.The slope drops approximately 15 metres (49 ft) from New Street to St Martin's Church which is very visible near the church.The Street Commissioners decided that a sheltered market hall was needed.

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