Tag Archives: Petticoat Lane Market

I Gotta Horse

Saturday was our day for visiting the market with mother to get supplies for the week.  Our local market was in Ridley Road and I have written about street markets before – if you are interested in my meanderings here is the link – Down Memory Lane.

But Sundays we were taken to another market by father and here we discovered Prince Monolulu and his catchcry “I gotta horse”.   Prince Monolulu (real name was Peter Mackay) was a huge, larger than life West Indian gent togged out in his finery and offering tips on the horses to anyone who would listen.  He made his money selling tips, handed over in sealed envelopes.  As there were few immigrants in London at the time, and this flamboyant person in both speech and dress was a figure of great interest to the three little girls and I suppose, most of the other people who came into contact with him.  He was a well-recognised character at most of the racetracks from the 1930s to the 1950s but of course, we never were taken to the racetrack.

Petticoat Lane was where we first came across him and where he was to be found most Sundays.  He was easily recognisable in his outrageous clothes and usually sporting a hat of high feathers.  All the colours of the rainbow could be seen in his clothing.  While Petticoat Lane has become a tourist destination for those visiting the capital, for us it was a place to be taken by father while mother prepared the Sunday lunch.  The stalls here were full of clothes, shoes etc a delight to three young girls who could look enviously but not buy.

But more exciting for us was the nearby Brick Lane market – often confused with Petticoat Lane.  Here were the costermongers selling their wares.  Everything from beautiful fresh fruit and vegetables to clothes, china, kitchenware, jewellery etc etc.  And there did seem to be a lot of stalls selling bath towels and sheets and pillowcases.  Of course the fruit and vegetables were fresh as they only sold what was in season.  No transporting of produce around the world then or at least not for those of us who lived in the East End.

There were always puppies and older dogs for sale and in fact when we moved from the flat to the house this is where father bought our first dog – Tex the Alsatian.  I am not sure that this was such a good choice at first.  Three little girls who were unused to having pets and suddenly we had an Alsatian.  But we quickly grew to love him and to realise that he wouldn’t hurt us but woe betides anyone who came too near when we were out with him.  He was a very large, gentle animal and while I don’t remember how long we had him it seemed that he was our constant companion while we were growing up.

We must all have been living at home when Tex died because I recall my elder sister going to the Lane and buying Micky a Heinz 57 Variety dog whom we all immediately fell in love with.  However, Mickey turned out to be Michelle and subsequently had a litter of beautiful pups.  There was great consternation when it was discovered “he” was pregnant and many hours spent wondering when this happened as “he” rarely went out without us.  So we had to find homes for all these puppies – I think there were 4 or 5.  They were so cute that we had no trouble re-homing them but mother declared there would be no more pups and had the dog neutered.  But my how mother loved that little dog who was her constant companion when the girls and father were all out all day at work or at the weekends, at play.  There was a series of dogs that followed in the footsteps of Tex and Micky after we left home but I don’t think any were as loved as were those two.

I do remember that father had a Dalmatian who was deaf and so was kept on a short lead when father walked him just in case..  And mother had a particularly bad-tempered Corgi who would nip at the children’s’ ankles whenever it had the chance.

So many memories of an East End childhood that I want to share as things are so very different now and if we don’t record our memories they will be lost as are the memories of my parents and grandparents.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

..

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 stallholders (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 stallholder.  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 womaned 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 favourite 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 stallholders 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.