I love markets. I used to sell fabric on them with my cousin David Ryecroft from the age of about 12 to 16, getting up at about 4am and driving to various towns in Yorkshire and Lancashire. We would unpack our fabrics – most of them seconds and feints and arrange them on a table, or sometimes on a groundsheet. We sold the fabric by the yard putting the cash into the zipped up pockets of our aprons. We would have cups of tea, bought from other market traders, and a bacon sandwich at lunch time, and be packed up by 2pm, earlier if it was raining.
My mother comes from Bury. She was brought up in Greenmount and lived there until she married. Her father had a factory that made slippers called Albion Mill.
Until last weekend I had never been to Bury Market, which has been voted as Britain’s finest market.
It is very popular with its 400 different stalls, inside and out. I spotted a stall that sells headstones for your grave, and a solicitor who sits in the open air (it was 1 degree C and snowing) trying to get business writing wills. There is lots and lots of food. Bury is home of the traditional (and quite delicious steamed) black pudding. They sell lots of hot, cooked meat – lamb, roasted chicken, pork (that is not yet pulled, but similar), sausages and kebabs. You can also buy many varieties of Lancashire cheese, black peas (which I love and just cannot buy anywhere else), wonderful local fresh fish, a wide array of vegetables, baked goods, cakes and biscuits. You can eat there – sitting at a table or standing up – lots of hearty, rib-sticking choices.
Apparently, one stall holder told me, there are at least a dozen coaches arriving daily, from “as far away as Southampton”, attracted by the variety, the keen prices and the Lancashire vibe. He told me there is not a stall free at present – which is interesting. The rest of the town is decidedly run down, and compared to its heyday, a bit sad. Many shops are shut and people are quite poor. But the market is full of life, providing a wide range of good produce and products at the lowest possible price – “soft and comfy” knickers at a pound a pair, for example.
But I was there for the fabrics, and trimmings. I did buy some things, but the prices are not competitive, sadly. I bought wool with polyester which in Brixton would be £5 or £6 a metre, for double that. The cotton was £8 – again Simply Fabrics would be half that. But I wanted to chat to the man who ran Annis which has been on the market in Bury since 1945. It is a family business set up by Michael, now run by David and his son Simeon – both were very chatty and informative.
Really interesting blogpost – thanks. What is actually under the sign for the comfy pants – looks like books (or is it packaging?)
For £1 you do get your “briefs” in a package Clarindakaleidoscope – modelled on those used for Sloggis!
Sisters in our heritage….. If you sold fabric at the *world famous* Dewsbury market I may have been a customer!,If you bought fruit n veg from the best market gardener in the land, that was my lovely uncle Alan Ledgard from Scarborough. My dad was the head dyer in the worlds best blanket (Dormy) factory, Wormalds & Walkers. All is faded but alive still,,memories especially. Thank you x
You do get about a bit eh? MAybe you’ll come to Brum sometime and we can have a rummage and a nosh? The prices are good, although probably only the same as you get in London. The markets are still great though!
The town I was born in, Woodbury, New Jersey, USA, was founded by a man named Wood who was also from Bury. Interesting to see some photos of this place I had only ever heard about.
Very interesting, Kate. I’ve always wanted to do a tour of England. Gianni and I both love markets. He calls me practically every night to tell me about new discoveries in the Christmas markets. PS The food sounds terrific!
I think markets give an insight into societies. Loved them in Ghana, in Jerusalem and Morocco.
Thanks for the map for us foreigners. I love British markets! Fabric, buttons, books, food, household cleaning supplies–your heart’s desire all in one place. When my husband and I were in London several years ago, finding the local market after viewing a museum or historical site was more than half the fun.
I agree. I find them socially fascinating! I often pick up odd stuff.
I love markets too, but that part of the world has such negative associations for me I wouldn’t board a coach to Bury if you’d told me they were selling pure silk double crepe for ten pence a metre. (No great fan of black pudding either, sorry). I do have a huge stash of London market fabrics, refreshingly cheap.
Well the markets of France are spectacular. I would happily board a coach to visit them for the fresh produce. I have negative associations with certain places too.
I love markets. I was in Bury market a few years ago, before I started sewing. It’s probably time I visited again as I was very short of time last time, popping in en route to an appointment. I’ve never tried black peas – would love to do so.
I must be one of the few people who don’t like markets. Real markets yes, I like them – but too many seem to be selling tatt from China (which is probably only here because no-one in China wants it).
I love black pudding but no-one else in the family can stand it! I will have to look out for black peas as I have never heard of them. Thanks for another great post.
I agree there is a lot of rubbish on the markets. But it’s the same in the high street. Black peas are dark greyish brown peas that create a lovely brown “gravy” when they are cooked. The go really soft like a mushy pea, but they don’t go mushy.
Fascinating post! And you’ve been involved in textiles since you were so young! The market looks like fun, and I love the HP bottles on the tables. We can buy it here in the states, but I’ve never seen it on a restaurant table…I always have some in the fridge.