Roman Road Market photoessay © Wedgley Snipes

Market day on Roman Road – photoessay

Take a stroll down Roman Road market with photographer Wedgley Snipes.

People have been ‘going down the Roman’ for over 150 years. Fashions have changed and the lockdowns of 2020 have brought social distancing measures of red and white bollards and masks, but ultimately, little has changed. 

Many of the barrows – that’s stalls to non-East Enders – are the same as they’ve always been – piled high with discount clothes from French Connection or Primark (with the labels cut out), real or otherwise designer bags, and children’s toys. 

As street food has risen in popularity, Saint Sugar of London, Paola Polenta, and the Gözleme stand have sprung up to feed hungry shoppers. But as well as the place to pick up lunch from Danny’s Super Chef Caribbean Grill or a filled donut from Andy, it’s simply a place to hang out, have a laugh or sit on a bench to catch up with friends.

Local zine-maker photographer Wedgely Snipes shares his favourite snaps of The Roman’s colourful characters, met during his trips through the market.  

‘It got to a point when I realised I was taking myself too seriously. All the people I photographed (from a social distance) and all the people I chatted to (from a social distance), they didn’t take themselves too seriously. They just got on with things. Went about their day. And it was just that — local people, living their daily life in extraordinary times. That’s what inspired me. That’s what I hope I’ve captured.’

man with a cigarette in his moth pushes the market cages down Roman Road Market photoessay from 2020, by photographer Wedgley Snipes.
Wheeling down the cages. Photography © Wedgley Snipes
A man stands infant of the market trailers at Roman Road Market photoessay from 2020, by photographer Wedgley Snipes.
A man collects barrows for the market traders before opening. © Wedgley Snipes
Two men laugh leaning on bollards at Roman Road Market photoessay from 2020, by photographer Wedgley Snipes.
Making jokes on the Roman. © Wedgley Snipes
Man eats a green coconut outside a yellow van selling donuts Roman Road Market photoessay from 2020, by photographer Wedgley Snipes.
Fresh coconut from chef Danny at Super Chef Caribbean Grill. © Wedgley Snipes
Two women lean against a white truck on Roman Road Market photoessay from 2020, by photographer Wedgley Snipes.
Overseeing the market. © Wedgley Snipes
A man wearing a flat cap stands infront of a handbag stall at Roman Road Market photoessay from 2020, by photographer Wedgley Snipes.
A Cockney Sparra’ between the stalls. © Wedgley Snipes
Wa man opens a van containing rows of tops at Roman Road Market photoessay from 2020, by photographer Wedgley Snipes.
Unloading the van. © Wedgley Snipes
A woman with a hijab watches passers-by at Roman Road Market photoessay from 2020, by photographer Wedgley Snipes.
Bargains to be found. © Wedgley Snipes
Roman Road Market photoessay from 2020, by photographer Wedgley Snipes.
The aftermath of the market. © Wedgley Snipes

If you enjoyed this photoessay, take a look at our insider’s guide to East London markets.

 


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