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Kingsland Waste: A look back at the historic Dalston market with one trader that’s about to relaunch with a new name

PUBLISHED: 18:13 21 May 2018 | UPDATED: 18:13 21 May 2018

The Kingsland Waste Market in the 60s. Picture: Hackney Archives

The Kingsland Waste Market in the 60s. Picture: Hackney Archives

Hackney Archives

As the Kingsland Waste market is about to relaunch in July, Emma Bartholomew looks back at the market which started out as a tool market over a century ago, where you could buy TV sets that “never worked” and a man called Flash would sell the latest in gingham shirts

The Kingsland Waste Market in the 60s. Picture: Hackney Archives The Kingsland Waste Market in the 60s. Picture: Hackney Archives

“Unlike Broadway which has turned into an expensive place, the Kingsland Waste sold stuff that was cheap, and that was the lure of it for some people,” one-time regular Alan Russell told the Gazette.

“It wasn’t your five or nine-pound-a-loaf job. People went out and bought a bargain - you didn’t go and look at it and think, “Wow that’s so expensive”.

“When my son went to art college, about 26 years ago, he was given a list of tools to get and we got them in tool shops. I was there up the Waste, and thought we could have got all this for four pence and not £200.

“I started going there in 1960 when I lived down in Clapton, and I bought shirts from there. I was going there till it closed.”

The Kingsland Waste Market in the 60s. Picture: Hackney Archives The Kingsland Waste Market in the 60s. Picture: Hackney Archives

Alan, a former council construction boss and union leader who was born in Hackney, would spend every weekend down the market in Kingsland Road which has not atually closed, but certainly dwindled nowadays.

With just one trader left, most people like Alan think it has been closed by the council – but it’s about to get a new injection of life in July with a relaunch.

It’s hoped the move will turn it back into something ressembling its hey-day.

It all started off in the mid 19th century when a landowner gave permission to trade their goods rent free, and was the go-to place in the 50s and 60s if you needed spare parts or tools needed to fix anything from bicycles to transistor radios.

The Kingsland Waste Market in the 60s. Picture: Hackney Archives The Kingsland Waste Market in the 60s. Picture: Hackney Archives

Famous for its eclectic array of second-hand goods, it would stretch two-stalls deep all the way from Middleton Road up to Forest Road in Dalston.

It was apparently given its pet name “waste”, because of the saying “waste not want not”.

“Everyone went there in Hackney in the 50s and 60s,” reminisced Alan. “It was a place you went on a Saturday, and it was teeming, like Brick Lane. You couldn’t move.

He remembers Tubby’s sarsaparilla stall which sold the herbal Victorian drink, and stalls with “knackered drills” and TVs that “didn’t work when you got them home”.

The Kingsland Waste Market in the 60s. Picture: Hackney Archives The Kingsland Waste Market in the 60s. Picture: Hackney Archives

There were also plenty of house clearance stalls like the one run by its one remaining trader Harry West.

He also remembers the clothes: “There was a Chinese guy, and he was called Flash. He used to have gingham button-down shirts made when they were high fashion.

“He was the only one you could get them from at that time when Mods came in,” said Alan, who was himself a Mod for a short period,

“Flash was alright. He was a nice bloke. He was up with the fashion basically, and I don’t know how he got the nickname “Flash”, but he was flash. Fashionably dressed, or a “face”. He was called a “face”. If you wore fashionable clothes and were known you were a “face” - that’s Hackney talk.”

The Kingsland Waste Market in the 60s. Picture: Hackney Archives The Kingsland Waste Market in the 60s. Picture: Hackney Archives

Alan remembers Mark Feld, who went on to become T-Rex singer Marc Bolan, was another “face” and market regular in the 60s.

But fast forward a few decades, and by 2015 there were just three temporary and two permanent traders left. The council was refusing to renew licences, complaining about the “excessive waste” generated by the market.

A petition calling on the council to renew their licences garnered hundreds of signatures, and many people complained the move was an attempt to evict them by the back door.

The council is now trying to tempt them back however.

By 2016 it announced a commitment to bring back the market, and it has now been decided that when it relaunches in July as “Kingsland Market”, it will “stay in keeping with its traditional roots” and specialise in second-hand bargains, antiques and vintage goods.

“The Council has made contact with previous Kingsland traders and extended an invitation to them to re-join the market,” said the council’s business chief Guy Nicholson.

The council is working closely with current trader, Harry West, who now heads up the market’s trader association on the relaunch. It has been agreed that the renamed market will come back with a minimum of 15 stalls, although interest has apparently been high and it is hoped there will be more.

The council is recruiting traders and wants to find people interested in selling antiques, vintage clothing, second hand bargains, books, records and homeware. Anyone interested can find out more at hackney.gov.uk/kingsland-market.

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