Flashback to the swinging 1960s, a decade of the Beatles, the Civil Rights movement, short skirts and bargain deals in East London. We have found some amazing images of Roman Road Market during the 60s in our local archive library.
These and many other images of our local area are freely available at Tower Hamlets Local History and Archives. You might find images of women hurrying to do the weekly shop, or the very old number eight bus. You will see that the piles of rubbish on the Roman today are a long-established feature on the road. And can you spot the much-missed high street staple, Woolies? Scroll through and let the nostalgia begin.
Roman Road Market started in 1843, when it was illegal ‘but withstood several attempts to close it down’. It was first recorded as a market in 1887 by Booth, who toured the area with the local policeman and reported that ‘Roman Road…is one of the great market streets in London. Things to be bought of every sort, even patent leather shoes. Some demand for good quality as well as for cheapness’. The market is still at the heart of Bow, and ‘going down the Roman’ has been a tradition for generations.
The market used to be open for long hours: there are oral accounts of trading going on until 10 pm well into the 20th century. Today, market days are Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, but shops on the Roman are open all week. The Old Ford and Bow Traders and Shopkeepers Union was inaugurated in 1910 to promote the welfare of costermongers and traders as well as those they lived alongside, and there have been traders groups working in the area ever since.
All images courtesy of Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives.
If you like this, you might like our archive images from other decades.