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Spitalfields Market In The Eighties

January 21, 2020
by the gentle author

Nearly thirty years have passed since the Fruit & Vegetable Market which had operated since 1638 left Spitalfields and now it has passed into legend. Yet I am frequently regaled with tales of the characters who inhabited this colourful lost world that has receded in time as the old market and its attendant buildings have been altered and rebuilt.

So you can imagine my delight when Stefan Dickers, Archivist at Bishopsgate Institute, showed me this photo album of portraits of market traders from the eighties, crammed with such vivid personalities it resembles a series of stills from a lost BBC comedy series of the era.

The fat album with gilt edges comes with its own box and a lock and key. Inside, a letter of dedication explains that it was presented by the Spitalfields Market Tenants Association to Charles Lodemore in 1987 upon the occasion of his retirement after thirty years as Clerk & Superintendent to the market. The photograph above shows the view across the Market from his office.

It was Marion Bullock, Charles Lodemore’s daughter, who presented the album to the Bishopsgate Institute. We do not know who took these characterful pictures and very few of the subjects are named, so I call upon my readers in the London fruit and vegetable business to come forward and help us identify these portraits.

Photographs courtesy Bishopsgate Institute

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Mark Jackson & Huw Davies at the Spitalfields Market

20 Responses leave one →
  1. January 21, 2020

    Excellent. My grandparents shopped in markets, but from the late 1950s and throughout the 60s, young families found markets old-fashioned and unsophisticated. Happily in the last 20 years, the youngest generation seemed to move back to fresh food and more open markets. Plus, thankfully, no plastic wrapping .

  2. Gill Thornton permalink
    January 21, 2020

    What wonderful photos and memories. The 10th photo shows my dad Harry Craddock in what I guess was his ‘office’. He was a salesman in the market working for Tunnards and before that Killingbacks

  3. Jill Wison permalink
    January 21, 2020

    What a great bunch of geezers who all seem to be enjoying their work and I can imagine lots of jolly banter going on.

    And while I can’t help with any actual names it is always fun to play the guessing-the-name game. I can see lots of Bobs, Jims, Rons and Lens with the occasional Jacob, Isaac and Abdul.

    Also fun to try and spot the ones who are related – for example the good looking chap in the tweed cap (Phil?) and his son (Steve?) who looks like he doesn’t want to be there. And the little and large chaps roaring with laughter (Lofty and Charlie?) must be brothers…

    I’d also like to know more about the handsome chap with the suspiciously dark hair (Jake?) who looks like a real lady killer…I bet all the ladies in the market (were there any??) would fall for his charms.

    And the thoughtful geezer in the black and white checked cap (Arthur?) could easily be related to Rod Hudd.

    Great stuff – thanks!

  4. January 21, 2020

    Pic. no 2 – man on phone – Jimmy Neale , salesman.

    Pic. no. 14 – man on phone – Roy Posner , salesman.

  5. Geoff Nicholls permalink
    January 21, 2020

    And now the market is moving on again, to Romford, I think.

  6. January 21, 2020

    Great pictures! Wonderful people!

  7. January 21, 2020

    Goodness — what a gaggle of great men. (“It’s raining men, hallelujah, its raining men, a-men…..”)
    I would call THIS a real Rogue’s Gallery, and look forward to your astute readers chiming in with photo identifications. You can run, but you can’t hide, gents.

    I get grumpy about the internet, but today it has allowed all of us to gather around this amazing
    photo album and look over your shoulder. So — grumpiness deferred.

    GA, keep shining that light.

  8. Jim Craddock permalink
    January 21, 2020

    And I think that may be a young David Kelsall with my dad Harry Craddock in the office at Tunnards in picture number 10. David ended up owning Tunnards I think, when I last saw him at the new marker in the mid 90’s. I used to help my Dad on his stand was I was a teenager, back in the late 70’s, and I reckon that’s when the photo was taken.

  9. January 21, 2020

    Greetings from Boston,

    GA, it was so prescient of Marion Bullock to entrust this great rogue’s gallery of Spitalfields Market Tenants to the Bishopgate Institute to be preserved for posterity.

    Several of these photos appear to be of fathers/sons. All look like hardy souls who embraced their work in the fruit market with enthusiasm.

  10. January 21, 2020

    What a great find!

  11. sarah ainslie permalink
    January 22, 2020

    Fabulous album packed with wonderful humanity, what a great gift to have.

  12. Mark stannard permalink
    January 24, 2020

    Picture 14 is a young Nicky Hammond
    Picture 25 is Freddy Mosley
    My dad peter worked there all his working life as a porter , he loved the market life.
    I worked there from 1986-1992 on Harry Scott’s firm which changed names to a W sharply
    It was hard work but great characters like Timmy Hayes , Simon osbourne ,

  13. Kay Prendergast permalink
    February 22, 2020

    What a find! My husband and his family ( The Hayes) have worked here & the new market currently. He loved the “old” market and the characters there. The new market is not the same ( according to him!) He worked on Acre then Mansfield’s , which was on The Commercial St.
    Thank you for these photographs, any more?

  14. Paul dashwood (toddy) permalink
    March 8, 2020

    These bring back great memories recognised plenty of those faces ..used to come to spits with my father bill dashwood and his partner peter beard to learn the trade .grandfather was in the game before them ..used to park at the gun .it would be breakfast in dinos .ernie bob and there dad serving behind the ramp ..still see Ernie now at the new spits .he hasn’t changed much …all those old characters from the old times ,porters ,salesmen ,cart minders .mostly all gone now I would think..great great times ….
    Thanks for this.
    Paul toddy ..

  15. James Strutt permalink
    June 11, 2020

    I recognise the person photographed holding his spectacles beside ‘QV Finest Lincolnshire potatoes’ as Percy Jones who was with W&H Bailey for many years.

  16. Paul Hayes permalink
    March 7, 2022

    Lovely picture of my old boss Harry Lackmaker outside his old office specialising in Bananas as an agent of Fyffes. A lovely boss and great character.

  17. David Woods permalink
    December 30, 2022

    I was. A lorry driver and did nightly visits taking produce into all of the London markets in the 80s total bedlam at times especially Christmas the company I drove for was called machines transport

  18. Andrew Sugden permalink
    June 9, 2023

    Does anyone remember Azorpardi at the market in the 1980s?

  19. Robert Kadish permalink
    July 7, 2023

    Does anyone here remember my grandfather Harry Lackmaker. He was a Banana wholesaler in the 1950s and 60s in Spittlefields market. He had a lock up unit on the out side with a green roller shutter I seem to remember.
    His wife was Hannah. His two daughters were Sally & Julie.
    All now sadly deceased. Would be nice to hear if anyone remembers him.

  20. sean Jones permalink
    August 22, 2023

    I used to sit on the back of my grandads van in the yard.

    Harry Jones had the fruit n veg shop in Mare Street.

    I used to sit on the shoulder of that famous boxer who ran the yard.

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