One of the Largest Street Markets in the South East
There are few institutions in this country that can boast a useful and unbroken existence for over seven and half centuries, yet this is the record for Romford Market. Romford is a large suburban town in East London and is the principal town of the London Borough of Havering. The town dates back to the 2nd Century when it was a Roman staging post called Durolitum and Romford has always been associated with a ford over a small stream that flows through it, now known at the River Rom. During the Middle Ages, Romford was a small hamlet that grew into a large Market Town after King Henry III granted a Royal Charter to the ‘Sheriff of Essex’, in 1247 to hold a Market every Wednesday, originally for livestock.
Romford flourished as an agricultural centre during the 18th and 19th Centuries and in 1824 most of the Market Place was reserved for the sale of cattle. In the late 1800s, the eastern end of the Market Place was used for the sale of pigs and cattle and the western end for farm tools, clothing, fruit and vegetables. For many years Romford Market was the largest livestock Market in the London area but changes took place around the time of the Second World War when the cattle trade went into rapid decline and the Cattle Market was closed in 1958. Since that time, Romford Market has been devoted mainly to food, clothing and household goods and in 1969, after the construction of a ring road around the town, the Market Place was closed to through traffic by sealing its eastern end. It has since developed into the large and successful general Market that exists today. It proved such a popular attraction that Friday Market Trading was introduced at the turn of the last Century, with Saturday trading following shortly afterwards.
Owned and operated by the London Borough of Havering, modern day Romford Market is considered to be one of the largest and best street Markets in the South East of England. It still stands on the pedestrianised Market Place (which is used as a public car park on non-market days) on Wednesdays and Fridays from 8.00am to 4.30pm and on Saturdays from 8.00am to 5.00pm. It also stands on the five Sundays prior to Christmas and on every day for the 10 or 11 days immediately before Christmas Day. In June 2010 a massive programme of restructuring and reorganisation of the Market commenced. The whole layout of the Market was altered giving wider aisles and some traders had to be relocated. Access from the Liberty Shopping Centre to the Market was improved, as was the electricity supply to the stalls.
Some traders objected strongly to the move, but, several months after, many agreed that the changes had not only improved the Market but the footfall through it. Romford Market currently consists of around 110 regular traders, with anything from 10 to 25 casuals each day. Casual rents for a 6 ft pitch is £17.80 on Wednesdays and Fridays, then £25.05 on Saturdays. All prices include VAT and mains electricity supply and there is a 48ft rule in operation ensuring that no two similar trades stand close to each other. Casuals are welcome but it is recommended that interested traders should telephone the Market Office beforehand (01708 433324) and be able to produce photographic identity (usually by way of passport), a recent utilities bill and public liability insurance, they will also then have an interview with the Market Manager. There are no restricted commodities, other than food, a policy that is currently under review.
Romford Market are currently looking for traders who sell speciality foods, as well as general commodities and anything that is a little different. There are now several public car parks within easy walking distance of the Market, the nearest one, a multi-storey, being able to accommodate traders’ vehicles of all sizes on the ground floor. Most of the buses that travel into and around the town stop on St Edwards Way, just a few yards from one of the Market entrances. Over the past few years Havering Council has invested hundreds of thousands of pounds on improvements to drainage, lighting, surfacing and electricity supplies, ensuring that the Romford Market experience is attractive to all who visit.
The market also run many different events throughout the year, in April they had a St Georges Day Celebrations, which was a huge success, with many traders selling out produce by the beginning of the afternoon. It was well supported by the local radio, who were at the market all day, which added to the fantastic atmosphere Romford Market offers. At the end of May they joined in with the national Love Your Local Market campaign, offering pitches to young entrepreneurs between 18-24 for £10.00 per day. Later this month (June 28th) there is an Armed Forces Day celebrations planned.
Any trader interested in standing at Romford Market should contact Market Manager, Matthew Steele on 01708 433324 for further details.
He told MTN, “Romford like most markets in the country is suffering a little due to the way in which the general public choose to shop, with so many discount stores etc, competition has possibly never been greater. However we remain positive in our approach and pro-active in ways to enable and provide Romford Market the opportunity for further expansion of traders and commodities. Our aim is simple, as a combined team working together and being flexible but positive in our approach to the future, we will then be able to help Romford grow and survive, and continue to strive to have the Market back in the heart of the community once again”.