Phil Maxwell On Sclater St
For the last thirty years, Contributing Photographer Phil Maxwell has been recording the ever-changing life of Sclater St Market. In the seventeenth century, this was known as Slaughter’s Land and Sclater is an archaic spelling of it, yet today the accepted pronunciation is ‘Slater.’ The name reminds us that, in spite of the apparently transient nature of street trading, this is an ancient market. By 1711, it had been laid out as ‘Sclater’s Lane’ and paved by 1723, and for centuries a bird market thrived here, persisting into recent memory at the end of the last century.
But only last year, the yard market to the north of Sclater St was lost to redevelopment and there are rumours that the yard to the south has been sold too. Yet every Sunday, you will still find Richard Lee, the bicycle parts seller, whose grandfather started on the same pitch in 1880 and, whenever I go down Sclater St, I stop to pay my respects to Robert Green and his sister Patricia, whose father Ronald began trading here in the fifties, on my way to carry off some bags of fresh produce at a bargain price from Westley Mattock, who boasts the longest fruit and veg stall in the East End.
Photographs copyright © Phil Maxwell
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