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Born and bred on Ridley Road: Chairman Larry Julian's 50 years of market trading

PUBLISHED: 14:52 29 November 2017 | UPDATED: 14:59 29 November 2017

Larry Julian on his toiletries stall in Ridley Road Market. Picture: Emma Bartholomew

Larry Julian on his toiletries stall in Ridley Road Market. Picture: Emma Bartholomew

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Ridley Road Market traders' association chairman Larry Julian tells the Gazette there was only ever one career for him - and how he is keeping it in the family.

Larry Julian's father Billy on Ridley Road. A young Larry began working on his fruit stall as a boy. Picture: Larry JulianLarry Julian's father Billy on Ridley Road. A young Larry began working on his fruit stall as a boy. Picture: Larry Julian

“There is more to life than Ridley Road Market,” Larry Julian’s teachers would often write in his school report.

He didn’t think so at the time.

“I was always obsessed about working on the market with my father and never had any other ambitions to do anything else,” said the 64-year-old.

He used to bunk off South Hackney Secondary Modern School on Fridays when the market was busy to help out on his dad’s fruit stall. (The senior Mr Julian had also worked on the market with his own dad since he was 12.)

Larry Julian's grandfather James, who also worked on the market. Picture: Julian familyLarry Julian's grandfather James, who also worked on the market. Picture: Julian family

“It was a different way of life to what it is today,” said Larry. “You had to go to work for your supper as such. There was no TV and there was no Xbox.”

Larry left school as soon as he could, aged 15, and has been working at the popular market ever since.

He met his wife Lesley – whose family sold flowers at the market – the same year and they have been working on his toiletries stall together since they got married at 19.

Born in Dalston’s German Hospital, Larry lived right next to the market until he was five, when his father was offered a council flat in Victoria Park.

Larry Julian and his daughter Tara. Picture: Larry JulianLarry Julian and his daughter Tara. Picture: Larry Julian

“You’ve got to understand, back in those days, there were four families living in one house. It was my dad’s sister and a couple of his brothers, and it was very tight,” he said.

Larry loved the social side of working on the market, where many of his cousins also worked. They would often drink together in the Ridley Arms – now a butcher’s shop.

“We all lived in each other’s pocket so to speak,” he said. “You’d walk in and there was always laughing and joking.

“My family was a very close family 40 years ago, but since then all the cousins got older and got married and got children. It expands and you don’t see each other as much as you used to.”

"I was always obsessed about working on the market with my father and never had any other ambitions to do anything else,"

Ridley Road Market traders’ association chairman Larry Julian

Larry, who has been chairman of the market for 20 years, has no plans to retire just yet.

One of his four grandchildren, Jake, 12, now comes to help out on a Saturday, so he can “understand what it’s all about”, and he has an apprentice.

“No one wants to get old but I think I was very fortunate to have great memories of the ’60s and ’70s,” he said. “The kids of today won’t have the memories we had.”

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