* UPDATE 311016: Hackney culture councillor Guy Nicholson told fellow members that he wanted to revive the Waste as a market for brocante, a French word for the kind of goods that were on sale until Hackney let the market die a slow death. The use of “brocante” suggests that rumours the market would be aimed at hipsters and other sub-middle-aged incomers were accurate. See also comment below
KINGSLAND WASTE, Hackney’s general-goods market, is on the verge of collapse.
Now little-known, even by some shopkeepers in the same street, the Kingsland Road collection of stalls was once hugely popular with working-class people.
The council has told permanent and casual traders at The Waste that their licences will not be renewed although, it says, they can reapply to “trade from Hoxton Street Market or Ridley Road Market”. The reason is the “clean-up cost” of the “excessive waste” created by casual traders.
Hackney council tells Loving Dalston: “Hackney council is proud of its many street markets and is currently working on a five-year strategy for all street markets in the borough. This will include a review of Kingsland Waste Market.”
On its website, however, Hackney says it is encouraging more permanent
and casual traders at its markets, “especially those who trade in confectionery, stationery, cooked hot food, arts and crafts, toiletries, china and footwear”.
Council officers admit unofficially that the aim is “to close Kingsland Waste”. The closure could be temporary, in readiness for “a revamp”. Officially, the council will not admit to any plan to remake it as a market selling trendier stuff than household goods.
In late summer this year 2014 it offered would-be traders free trial pitches in any of Hackney’s six markets, as well as rewards for existing stallholders for recommending the markets to others.
Neighbourhoods councillor Feryal Demirci is quoted in a 19 August 2014 press release as saying: “The six markets that stretch across the borough are some of the most iconic in the capital, visited by thousands of people every week.
“We want to encourage new traders to join our markets, adding to their ongoing success and popularity.”
In The Waste, traders are unimpressed, having this year had to find at least £5 a week extra for pitch rents.
Jackie Morris pays £64 for two pitches. A casual licence-holder selling general household goods, she says: “I can’t remember being consulted about a review of Hackney’s markets.”
Sam Ibe, 53, shops regularly in The Waste, travelling from Tottenham, 5km north up the A10. He says: “The market helps poor people. Shops are so expensive.”
While we talk, Morris offers him, without explanation, a small old but working sound system and he leaves with it under his arm, beaming happily.
Harry West, from Epping, pays £64 for two pitches in The Waste, where he
sells general goods, as he has been doing in that market for 40 years. He knows nothing of the review, but he fears for the future of the market.
Surprisingly, he thinks it stems from a crackdown on fly-pitchers several years ago.
West acknowledges that the council was trying to act in traders’ interests to stop the rent-free selling by men selling out of battered suitcases they could reload quickly when they saw a market inspector. “But the fly trading,” he says, “was the attraction for a lot of people. They wanted bargains.
“I think that now they [the council] are determined to close The Waste, one stall at a time if necessary. Within two years it will be finished.”
To anyone who remembers the market a few decades ago it already looks finished. In the 1980s and early 1990s pitches pushed up against one another, all the way from the Fox pub at Middleton Road, north to the present Oxfam location at Forest Road E8 4AR.
Now there are large gaps between stalls, and official pitch numbers, seeming to emphasise the gaps.
Kingsland Waste used to be the Saturday destination for anyone wanting tools, garden equipment, bicycles and cycle accessories, cheap babywear, undies, CDs, vinyl, videos and new and secondhand clothing. To walk the length of the market took 15 minutes, such was the number of stalls on the well-maintained 5m-wide pavement and on the lower cobblestoned level.
Once the routine household purchases were made, Norman’s stall would be approached, always with a sense of excitement and hope. It was not unlike leaving the best item on a dinner plate until the last.
One could never predict what Norman might be offering. He was a trawler of auctions and household clearances, or is believed to have been, because he was cagey about where he got the tattered books, maps, cameras, pictures, frames… the variety and the quality span was great, the prices low.
Soon all the pitches will be empty and Hackney council will be able to offer motorists a few more parking spots.
Is that what the people of northeast London want?
David Altheer 021114
* Kingsland Waste Market appears in bits on the east side of Kingsland Road north of Middleton Road, Dalston/Haggerston E8 4DA on Saturdays, officially 7am to 3pm.