Down Memory Lane aka Streeet Markets

“Memories, light the corners of my mind
Misty watercolor memories of the way we were.
Scattered pictures of the smiles we left behind
smiles we give to one another
for the way we were…”

Isn’t it great how reading what one of our blogging friends writes leads us off into worlds of our own?

One of my blogging friends Hallysan (sorry I don’t know her name in the real world) wrote today about haggling.  See her post here.  While I do occasionally go to the market here I was instantly transported back to Saturday markets when I was growing up in the east end of London.

Road sign

Our particular market was Ridley Road in Dalston.  Way back then there were very few immigrants in the area and consequently we didn’t have the diversity of produce and products that are on sale now.  Saturday was the main market day and this is when mother and her three daughters did the shopping.  Remember, there were no supermarkets then and before going to the market we went to Sainsbury’s or the Co-op to do the grocery shopping.

Ridley Road Market

via Telegraph UK

After buying the butter, cheese, tea and other necessities for the week, we made our way to The Market.  This was a loud, lively place with stall holders (costermongers) calling out attracting us to buy their wares.  Shortly after the second world war ended there was no great variety.  Vegetables and fruit in season that had to be weighed by the stall holder.  Pat Cryer talks about this in detail.  Visit her website and I have talked about shopping when I was growing up in an earlier blog.

On Sundays, after father returned from the war he would take us to Petticoat Lane or the Lane as it was called by those of us who lived nearby.

Again, remember this was shortly after the war ended and there were very few tourists or immigrants.  The stalls were all manned or womanned by true Londoners with their cockney accents, calling out to see what they had on offer. And they had great things – “Look here luv. Look at this lovely dinner set.  I’m not asking you ten pounds not even eight pounds – OK you can have it for a fiver (five pounds).  Can’t say fairer than that.  Can I?”.  What characters they were.

Logo

Logo via Wikipedia

If you have ever seen the BBC sitcom “Only Fools and Horses” you will get some idea of these characters.

There was a wide variety of things for sale from clothes, dinnerware and other china, ornaments to puppy dogs, cats and birds and everything in between.  This was an exciting time for three little girls out with their father who had been away for so long.  Mother was always left behind to make Sunday lunch and even writing this I can smell that lunch when we returned.  We were usually cold and always excited from this trip out with Father.

Petticoat Lane is a great favorite of tourists to London now and not to be missed but it has changed and expanded since we were three little girls.

“Can it be that it was all so simple then
or has time rewritten every line?
If we had the chance to do it all again
tell me would we? Could we?”

There were several other markets in the area but these were the two we regularly visited.

Many years later I returned to both these markets.  How they have changed.  They are of course and because of the immigrants, both more international and many of the stall holders call out attracting folk to their stalls but the accents are no longer all cockney.

“Memories, may be beautiful and yet
what’s too painful to remember
we simply choose to forget
So it’s the laughter we will remember
whenever we remember
the way we were.”

Doesn’t Barbra Streisand singing Memories say it all?  It does for me


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18 responses to “Down Memory Lane aka Streeet Markets

  1. I’m sure I would have loved visiting one of the old London markets. They sound like great adventures, and thanks for the blog mention :-)

  2. I love markets anywhere in the world. Shopping is so much more fun and interesting. I remember Camden Market in London and buying a wonderful leather jacket for about 20 pounds! But my favourite so far is Pike Place Market in Seattle!
    In Dubai we have souks which are just as much fun, the Gold Souk is legendary and full of glitter and bling, the Spice Souk smells divine and today we’re off to the Friday Souk to buy plant pots – no idea why its called the Friday Souk as its on every day but that’s Dubai for you!

    • Unfortunately I have never been to Seattle but I do love Camden Market. so much noise and so many interesting things on offer.
      I did visit the Gold Souk and the Spice Souk when I was in Dubai.
      Enjoy your shopping.

  3. What an experience! I’ve never been to anything quite like that. We have “flea markets” around from time to time, but it’s mostly junk. Thanks for sharing this adventure with those of us who haven’t had the opportunity to experience it.

  4. I love the sights and sounds of markets… so much to choose from:-)
    It’s been a hectic week and I’m now catching up with everyone.
    Happy weekend to you! :-)
    Elizabeth

  5. Love this post, Judith, lots of memories for me too!

    I used to pass the start of Ridley Road market every week on my way to college and sometime to visit some family nearby. I remember the ride down St Marks Rise (did the single-decker 236 go that route when you lived there?) and round into Lebons Corner…

    Yes, things did change there but it was always colourful, with each wave of immigrants bringing their own culture. Jewith people, then In the 50s and 60s it was the turn of West Indians, later Bangladeshis… I wonder who now? I have a vague recollection of a record stall (vinyl, of course – days even before audio cassettes let alone any other format!) in Ridley Road.

    My dad used to take me to Petticoat Lane and we’d get things like liquorice sticks (not the black sweets, but the actual liquorice bark that we’d put in our mouths and sort of gnaw on and suck – very sweet and delicate flavour) and something I can never remember the name of – they were very large flat black pods that tasted sweet but smelled absolutely foul! I hated them, dad adored them. Any idea what they’d have been?

    • Hi Val – welcome back. Hope this means you are feeling better.

      Oh I loved the markets when I was small. And Mother got to know the stall holders and they her and us.

      I remember the liquorice but as Spanish wood – a hard wood type sweet that tasted of liquorice. I think we must have sucked the sweet out and then thrown away the wood. Can’t think we ate that.
      And sorry, I don’t remember the black pods.

      Judith

  6. Thanks Val. I certainly remember Refreshers and you can still get the liquorice logs here in some shops. I have asked my sisters about the black pods your Dad liked.

    Take care. :)

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