Peter Keine at his stall on Roman Road Market
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Roman Road Market traders pay tribute to Peter Keine

‘Peter was the father figure of the market’: The traders of Roman Road Market pay tribute to Peter Keine who passed away on Thursday 4 January, at age 84.

On Thursday 11 January, the traders of Roman Road Market paid homage to Peter, their fellow trader and treasured friend. Peter’s stall was wheeled out and adorned with photographs and flowers in a celebration of the dependable market veteran, fondly remembered for his dark wit and unique kindness.

For over 40 years, Peter has been a pillar of Roman Road Market and was central to the strong-knit community and playful camaraderie among the traders. Shoppers would flock to his stall for his eclectic selection of woolly hats, socks and gloves, but also just to catch up with the much-loved man.

When he wasn’t commanding over his stall on the Roman, Peter spent his years holidaying with friends on golf trips to Portugal and socialising over a pint in his local Wetherspoons. To his fellow marketeers, Peter was a loyal friend as well as a trusted mentor, responsible for teaching them the tricks of the trade.

On the Roman, you’d find Peter trading on Tuesdays and Thursdays next to his right-hand man Adrian Mckay aka Ginger, and the pair worked closely together for 15 years. When asked about what he’ll remember most about Peter, Mckay fondly said: ‘Being told off. I used to look at my phone, and he’d go: “Get off your phone and get a life!”’

Sharon Langston, market trader and co-owner of Roman Tackle, worked next to Peter for about 40 years. Reminiscing about their decades-long friendship, she said:

‘He was a very kind man and funny man, a true gent. He’d do anything if anyone needed something. If customers didn’t have any money, they’d be able to come and pay him when they found the money for stuff off his stall.

‘The banter was always there. He’ll be sadly missed on the Roman both as a trader and as a friend of our customers. He was an icon.’

Langston recalled how Peter remained steadfastly committed to trading despite struggling with his health over the years. Even in freezing temperatures, the 84-year-old was devoted to opening his stall on the Roman, greeting locals with good humour and affection. She said:

‘Three times we’ve had to phone the ambulance against his wishes, and twice he was taken away from here.

‘On one occasion, when the ambulance crew was taking him, he got back out of the ambulance to his stall to get some tights for the ambulance crew, and he bought some thermals for the man who was in there, to keep them warm while they were doing their job.’

Altaf Hussain, a trader of women’s fashion on the Roman, recalled his first memories of meeting Peter:

‘I remember when I first met Peter when I started on the Roman, about 12 years ago. I bought something from him, but when he realised I was a trader, he wouldn’t take a penny off me. 

‘I had to try and force the money on him, but he wouldn’t take it. He said: “No, no, that’s the end of it.” I had to respect his wishes. That was Peter, he was so kind and lovely to everyone and the customers.’

For Hussain, Peter was part of an irreplaceable generation of traditional traders whose legacies continue to define the East End. Alongside legendary traders like Lenny Selik and Wheelright Brian Baker who passed away in 2018, Peter was the lifeblood of the historic market and an integral part of the local community. Hussain said:

‘Peter made you enjoy it, because you’d look forward to coming and speaking to him, even when you had a bad day. Peter was always the father figure of the market, like Brian and Lenny. 

‘These guys who have been here, they’re the establishments of the market, they’re literally the foundation. They enjoyed it right until the end.’

The market certainly won’t be the same without Peter, but the local community will treasure the 40 years of fond memories shared with the one-of-a-kind trader. As Langston said: ‘He’ll never be forgotten.’

Roman Road Market traders pay homage to Peter Keine, who passed away this January
Roman Road Market traders pay homage to Peter Keine
Peter Keine collecting his packed lunch on Roman Road

If you enjoyed this article, read The 10 best things to do on Roman Road Market.

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