Markets are the backbone of the United Kingdom. They spring up all across the week, selling a range of goods; from the fresh and tasty produce that can be reaped from farmers market; to the ‘one man’s junk is another man’s treasure’ of the weekend clothes market; wholesale and bulk markets for retailers outsize quaint little village markets catered to locals. Britain loves a good market – so much so that we have even invented fictional ones.
Below are listed some of our most famous:
Walford Market – Based in fictional Walford, where our favourite Eastenders reside, Walford market is the central part to the daily goings on in Albert Square. Mainly selling tat and clothes, the market has been in existence since the first 1985 episode; with some of its most well-liked characters running stalls there. From Pete Beale’s fruit and veg operation to Mo’s junky clothes stand.
Goblin Market – As depicted by Christina Rossetti in her 19th century poem of the same name. Goblin Market is the place of sprites and fairies. Selling delicious fruits in abundance, forbidden to humans, cries of traders from the market attracts two sisters who find themselves in terrible trouble after sampling the delicious forbidden fruits. Rossetti really conjures the look and smell of this nocturnal market in her wonderful poem.
Albion Market- Albion market was the name and location of a short-lived soap in the 1980’s. It centred on a market in Salford, Greater Manchester and was intended as an add-on to the ever popular Coronation Street. Launched in the same year as Eastenders, TV producers were confident that its link to Coronation Street would ensure that it did well; unfortunately they were wrong, after just 100 episodes Albion Market closed forever.
Del Boy – Despite the fact that Del Boy is not a market and Sheppard’s Bush market where he allegedly illegally trades is certainly a living breathing market, Del Boy deserves a mention. The stereotype of a cockney market trader, he can wheel and deal anything, and his inclusion in the legendary British comedy ‘Only Fools and Horses’ is said to have made the show, and British comedy. Played by David Jason to comic precision, writer John Sullivan based the character on the unlicensed traders who sold goods from suitcases, and had always fascinated him at the local market.
Diagon Alley, Harry Potter – Leadenhall Market in London is the real life location of the alleyways of magic shops and hostelries made famous in Harry Potter. Although it is a series of shops in jumbled buildings, the customers, layout and bartering of Diagon Alley give it more of a market feel. Famous magic stores and businesses in the alley include: Eeylops Owl Emporium, Flourish and Bolts Magic book Shop, Gringotts Wizarding Bank, Madam Malkin’s Robes, Potage’s Cauldron Supplies and a number of small stall selling everything from magic sweets, to spell inclusions. Diagon Alley is invisible to Muggles, and can be reached through the Leaky Cauldron, an alehouse somewhere along Charing Cross Road between a bookshop and a record store – I’m still looking!