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Spitalfields Market In The Eighties

March 24, 2022
by the gentle author

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.

Jimmy Neale on the phone

David Kelsall and Harry Craddock

Nicky Hammond with Roy Posner, man on phone

Photographs courtesy Bishopsgate Institute

You may also like to take a look at

Mark Jackson & Huw Davies at the Spitalfields Market

6 Responses leave one →
  1. Greg T permalink
    March 24, 2022

    Very reminiscent of Borough Market, before it “re-invented” itself.
    – And yes, I remember Spitalfields, as well

  2. Simon permalink
    March 24, 2022

    Superb. A great complement to the Jackson & Davies work. Only a few years between but these show vibrancy whereas the others are much more reflective, for obvious reasons. What a find.

  3. James Harris permalink
    March 25, 2022

    Dear Gentle Author,
    My dad was one of the security staff at Spitalfields Market from the mid seventies until the mid to late eighties and the adventurous night I had with him at the age of 11 when I went to work with him on a night shift in the summer of 1978.

    As a young lad it was an amazing place. The sights, sounds and smells. I experienced the place from 10 o’clock at night until 6 the next morning. From relatively quiet with hardly anyone about, slowly growing busier until dad told me to stick by his side as there was so much going on, lorries turning up, forklifts buzzing about and lots of busy people buying and selling.
    Wandering around the Fruit & Wool exchange in the pitch black was the scariest bit. Dad insisted on doing it without turning on the torch whilst doing his rounds checking everything was locked and no intruders.

    It is a night vividly etched in my mind and those photographs are very reminiscent of my adventure.

    We all know nothing stays the same but I wish that Spitalfields could have.

  4. Ann permalink
    March 25, 2022

    I worked for Gibbs and Pardoe from 86-92.
    Lots of happy memories! On one occasion they were filming The Bill.
    Brilliant photos

  5. Marcia Howard permalink
    March 25, 2022

    What wonderful pictures. I’m sure I was at school during late 50s/early 60s with someone called Lodomore, Victor? perhaps. Will have to rack my brains, though a quick online search came up with several Lodomores, so maybe it’s not such an unusual name?

  6. Leonard Stevenson permalink
    July 1, 2022

    I worked in the market in the 80s it was a magical place to work, once you were in the market it was a different world, I used to mend, repair and build the electric floats that carried the fruit and veg out to the waiting lorries and vans. I think there must have been 50 to 60 of this type of float.
    I worked for Keith Deering Electric Vehicle Services, a well known name in the electric vehicle world. I think L&H Starns in the end were called the Starns Group and we supplied floats to them in Spitalfeilds and Covent Garden at nine elms.
    I agree with James Harris Nothing stays the same but spitalfeilds should have.
    I did visit the market on28/06/22 and i must say i was sad to see how it has been developed.

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