‘Tears of joy’: Hackney’s historic Well Street Market - where Tesco began - reopens eight years after closure
- Credit: Archant
Market stalls returned to Well Street on Saturday for the first time in eight years.
People were dancing in the streets when DJ Norman Jay headlined a day of live music on a stage paid for thanks to an £80,000 crowdfunding campaign.
And Mayor of London Sadiq Khan turned up to chat with every single one of the 36 stall holders – who include teenagers and students who are getting free stalls and training thanks to the funding.
The market started up in 1862 and was once a major trade hub for Hackney. Jack Cohen famously opened the first Tesco – a market stall – on its cobbled streets.
But it fell into decline in the 1980s and eventually closed.
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Cllr Ian Rathbone set up the Well Street Traders and Residents Association (Westra) in 2011 to revive the market and bring jobs back to one of the most deprived areas in the UK.
He told the Gazette: “It was an amazing day. This was the summation of a vision I had five years ago to see a market down there, and now that day has actually come.
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“So for me just seeing the market there was a tremendous and humbling experience.
“I was crying for joy that it had happened.
“It’s been thousands of hours of work and the ups and downs we have had with the landlord and trying to get traders and so on.”
Hundreds of shoppers turned out to get their hands on fresh produce, fashion and street food, and some of the traders had sold out by the afternoon.
Teenage traders Ollie and Nathaniel, both 18, who cut the ribbon to launch the market, were among the new generation of stall holders. They sold warm apple juice through their business Deep Within.
Students meanwhile were hawking things like cards, drawings and crafts. Cllr Rathbone said: “One woman was really chuffed as she sold one of her own drawings. She’d never sold anything she had made before –but this was for a reasonable sum of money. She wouldn’t tell me how much but it was obviously pleasing. This is what it’s all about.”
The market will be monthly until March, when bosses hope it will go weekly. The next market day is January 7 from 9am.