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Tamara Stoll’s Ridley Rd Portraits

January 27, 2019
by the gentle author

Photographer Tamara Stoll has been recording Ridley Rd Market – the people, places and stories – since 2011 and she sent me this fine collection of portraits of traders and shoppers.

Rahmat Gul

Leigh Mayo

“My dad came from a family of fourteen brothers and sisters and they all worked with my nan on the stall. My aunt had a stall across the road and my great-grandmother, she started at the top of the market. They used to walk to Covent Garden Market or Spitalfields with a pram and buy mint and sell it for sixpence a bunch. That’s how we started down here. It has been handed down from generation to generation. Everyone helped each other and everyone got on. It was like a big family down here.

One weekend in 2008,  my dad worked on a Saturday and was rushed into the hospital on the Sunday. They made a wreath for him out of fruit, veg and salads. Down this end of the market was completely shut, there wasn’t one stall open. Everyone shut up for my dad. They put a black cloth on his stall and it was full up with flowers. Everyone knew him and he had about a thousand people at his funeral. The procession came through Ridley Rd. If you go up to see Colin on the saucepans, he’ll tell you more.”

Grace, Audrey & Aiden


Umar & Paul

Barry Lambert

Terry & his family


Abdul Alizadeh




Ch Mushataq Ahmed & Ataa

David Hall





Kikelomo Awojobi

Mr A James


Nigest Arava

Robert Evans

“My father Jack Evans started when he came back from the Second World War. He was in the Royal Navy during the Russian convoys. If you went into the water, you only had about to minutes to live but he survived that. That’s why I am here. I started about 1960. In those days, we used to sell a ton of potatoes each day – that’s forty days of potatoes nowadays. Modern day people don’t eat so many potatoes. They eat rice and takeaways, they’ve got choices. In those days you had to bring your own bag. We would have a queue of ten people lining up for potatoes. Cabbage was plentiful during the war, but there was a shortage of potatoes because they take longer to grow. In the war, customers had to buy cabbage to buy the potatoes, you could not just buy potatoes. It was all seasonal then, none of this ‘all year round.’ In the fifties and sixties, we used to sell six vegetables: potatoes, carrots, onions, cabbage and cauliflower or leeks, something like that. I was the first one down here to sell broccoli in about 1970.”



Vitor Perkola

Lucinda Rogers

Photographs copyright © Tamara Stoll

“You’ll find that people have been coming here for years. It’s the local place to go to get your shopping. This is a market in the original meaning of the word. You forget what you’re doing sometimes when you start talking, it’s a community.”

“Before pitches were licensed there used to be a Toby, a market inspector. He would blow a whistle and you would have had to run with your goods to get the best pitch possible. This caused quite a few arguments as you can imagine. There was a lot of trouble,this was before the Second World War, with what you called the blackshirts. They wore a uniform, black trousers and black shirts. They used to be at the corner of Ridley Road market and there used to be lots of fights. They started speaking – Britain was always free speech – and fighting broke out every time.”

“My mum shopped extensively here. The first generation of people that came here, obviously they cooked more authentically than we do. My kids will eat less authentically that I do and that will keep evolving down the line. It’s a place to come just to pick up that odd bit of tradition and have that connection. You buy plantain or yam, go home and cook it and it just gives you that memory of mum and dad and being at home.”

“The road was originally cobblestones for the horses and carts because the cart wheels run better on cobblestones, they don’t run on tar. But the cobbles weren’t laid very level, so you would have puddles here and a curve there and a puddle here. This market is on a bridge, the train runs under here. They changed it in the sixties because the cobbles were too heavy for the bridge, making it subside. So they took the stalls away and we were in Colvestone Crescent for a year while they repaired the bridge and concreted it over – and this is how you see it today. “

“I have been coming to this market for years. A bit of haggling, a bit of bartering, a bit of laughing, you get to know people as well. You build friendships, relationships, that kind of thing. So, it’s totally different to going to a shopping centre.”

“They call it a bread and butter market, and the best thing about it is the amount of variety of fruit and vegetables. Because they do piece selling, it’s very quick. You can load up, do your week’s shopping here in five, ten minutes. You walk down here and walk back up to the street in five minutes, it’s all done.”

“I was nineteen when I worked here in the late seventies. I used to sell wax printed African fabrics here. They have shops in Stamford Hill, here, Petticoat Lane. They still have businesses – Raynes. Cohen is their family name. Actually, they came from Yemen. There was an exodus of people from Yemen in the sixties and seventies and they came here and established a business.”

“This is where you meet the people, in the market, because sinceI started I have met five people already. That’s what the market is all about. People meet and talk, and just get on with it, buy your food and whatever. I just come out for a walk, it keeps me going.”

“If you go to Africa or you go to Jamaica, and you go down the markets, like Kingston Market in Jamaica, or Accra Market in Africa, it’s a lot like this. When you look at all these shops here, this is exactly how it is back home. So it’s like they’ve come here and they have set it up just like they would back home.”

You may also like to take a look at

Lucinda Rogers at Ridley Rd Market

Lucinda Rogers at Ridley Rd Market II

Lucinda Rogers at Ridley Rd Market III

7 Responses leave one →
  1. January 27, 2019

    What a wonderful set of honest and unpretentious portraits. More like this from a great photographer please.

  2. Sarah Ainslie permalink
    January 27, 2019

    Great portraits and stories with connections to so many different worlds from the people Ridley Road. A real community, hope to see more.

  3. Bernie permalink
    January 27, 2019

    I remember Friday trolleybus rides in 1938 or 1939 from our home in Stoke Newington to Ridley Rd, and the bedlam at the fish-shop somewhere along the right hand side while my mother claimed the fishmonger’s attention and selected her choice – usually a large Plaice – which then had its fins trimmed and was cut across into slices and wrapped in newspaper.

  4. January 27, 2019

    Brilliant photos. So much character captured here and Angelique is so beautiful she should be an international supermodel.

  5. January 27, 2019

    Marvelous pictures, so alive.

  6. January 27, 2019

    Love these!

  7. Jane permalink
    January 28, 2019

    This is lovely – an authentic view of multicultural London. I liked the stories, too. England at its best is like America at its best (I am American) – a collection of wonderful people who bring the best of their traditions and mix them with the traditions of others.

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