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In Celebration Of High St Traders

February 1, 2017
by the gentle author

Yesterday, I walked over to Leadenhall Market in the City of London to buy some sausages and discovered that, after more than six centuries as a meat & poultry market, the last butcher has gone. Thankfully, Peter Sargent the Butcher in Bethnal Green is still in business, so I got on a bus at Liverpool St and returned home with my quest fulfilled.

The experience made realise the value of independent shopkeepers, who are currently struggling under increasing rents, business rates and competition from chains, so today I publish these die-cut Victorian scraps in celebration of traditional High St traders.

Enlarged here to several times their actual size, the detail and characterisation of these figures is revealed splendidly. Printed by rich-hued colour lithography, glossy and embossed, these appealing images celebrate the essential tradesmen and shopkeepers that were once commonplace but now are scarce.

In the course of my interviews, I have spoken with hundreds of shopkeepers and stallholders – and it is apparent that most only make just enough money to live, yet are primarily motivated by the satisfaction they get from their chosen trade and the appreciation of regular customers.

Here in the East End, these are the family businesses and independent traders who have created the identity of the place and carry the life of our streets. Consequently, I delight in these portraits of their predecessors, the tradesmen of the nineteenth century – rendered as giants by these monumental enlargements.

You may also like to take a look at these other sets of the Cries of London

London Characters

Geoffrey Fletcher’s Pavement Pounders

Faulkner’s Street Cries

William Craig Marshall’s Itinerant Traders

London Melodies

Henry Mayhew’s Street Traders

H.W.Petherick’s London Characters

John Thomson’s Street Life in London

Aunt Busy Bee’s New London Cries

Marcellus Laroon’s Cries of London

John Player’s Cries of London

More John Player’s Cries of London

William Nicholson’s London Types

John Leighton’s London Cries

Francis Wheatley’s Cries of London

John Thomas Smith’s Vagabondiana of 1817

John Thomas Smith’s Vagabondiana II

John Thomas Smith’s Vagabondiana III

Thomas Rowlandson’s Lower Orders

More of Thomas Rowlandson’s Lower Orders

Adam Dant’s  New Cries of Spittlefields

6 Responses leave one →
  1. Eastendbutcher permalink
    February 1, 2017

    It’s such a shame but the overheads for small businesses in and around London are enormous. Most traders work on a relatively small margin and there just isn’t anything left once all bills are paid. I love the trade, it’s hard work but I wouldn’t swap it for anything else. Now then…I’m off to make Sausages!

  2. February 1, 2017

    As an independent bookshop, now in its 39th year, thank you. I do it because I love it .

  3. Shawdian permalink
    February 1, 2017

    Thank you.

  4. February 1, 2017

    “……and carry the life of our streets.”
    Thank you for this awareness, and the ephemeral paper messengers dressed in their specialized
    workday regalia. I tip my hat to the anonymous lithographers who churned out these engaging and enduring images. I so enjoyed revisiting some of the additional links above, under “Cries of London”.
    What a place! – What traditions!

  5. February 1, 2017

    Wonderful ancient illustrations!

    Love & Peace

  6. February 1, 2017

    Great images, got a lot of them in a book from a flea market. It’s a shame that so many shops are closing down, It’s the same sad story here. Valerie

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