Bethnal Green Road – Market Guide

There has been a market on Bethnal Greeen Road since the 19th century, and despite the arrival of a Tesco store and the neglect of the local council, Bethnal Green Market is still going strong. The market is an expression of the East End’s continued vitality and on a any weekday you will see old East Enders rubbing shoulders with Asian and African locals, as well as more recent arrivals from Eastern Europe. Despite the mix of people and cultures, the atmosphere is friendly with plenty of banter and many traders taking the chance for a chat with regulars when things are a little quite. This must be one of the reasons of the longevity of the market with people preferring to shop on the street with people they know, than to endure the anonymous experience of supermarket shopping.

As a fairly large, well-established market with a solid base of local customers and a string of competing traders, Bethnal Green Road provides a wide range of goods at persuasive prices. Everything you might need, from bedding, to plugs, is available and generally of reliable quality. There is nothing particularly out of the ordinary here, but if you’re after a relaxed, no frills, market then this one should fit the bill.

The fruit and vegetables are cheap and fresh, but at this market mangetout is given the cold shoulder in favour of less exotic fare such as board beans. One stall compensated for its lack of foreign veg with six different types of potato – a range that would put most stalls on Berwick Street Market to shame. The exception to this rule is the Asian fruit and veg stall which has a bewildering display of bitter gourd, fenugreek and jackfruit and is popular with the local Asian community. A few of the street’s shops also sell food from period piece premises – evidence that this area seems to have avoided the total destruction of its retail traditions by the convenience revolution.

Bethnal Green has a reasonable selection of clothes stalls, with a spectrum of new men’s and women’s clothing ranging from middle-aged and functional to semi-designer jeans and jackets. Prices are often, to quote one trader’s sign, ‘Bloody Cheap!’, and there are indeed plenty of solid bargains on standard items like sweat tops, leggings and T-shirts. One dealer was doing well with his end-of-season ladies fashion from high street names like Principles and MES, with many garments sold for a fiver. A number of rummage-style stalls also have super cheap separates or a lucky dip mixture of things like lipsticks, suntan lotion and hair products. The luggage and bags sold on the market are also elsewhere. One of the longest established traders on the market offers a vast selection of toiletries and kitchen cleaning materials at very low prices. The stallholder explained that her grandfather had run a stall on the same site in the 40s and 50s and although the gene had skipped a generation she was happy to be continuing the family tradition.

The market has shrunk a little since the time I went to Bethnal Green Road between Vallance Road and Wilmot Street and I had a little help from the moving company I used to find it and move in the neighbourhood, London home removals. The lads were more than kind to recommend it to me even thought at first I knew nobody, it was a astonishingly easy to get acquainted with the local folks.


January 24, 2013 | Author: | Posted in Pure Opinion

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