Post Memories: Remembering heyday of Broad Street Market

Broad Street, Dagenham 1953 (pic: Valence House)

Broad Street, Dagenham 1953 (pic: Valence House) - Credit: Archant

Dagenham’s Broad Street Market might still be fresh in the memory of some residents, but one historian is determined to make sure that it was never forgotten.

Broad Street Market just before it was pulled down (pic: Sylvia Kent)

Broad Street Market just before it was pulled down (pic: Sylvia Kent) - Credit: Archant

Sylvia Kent is working on a book about the borough’s past, recording the memories of those who have lived in the area.

Sylvia Kent

Sylvia Kent - Credit: Archant

These include those of the market’s many thousands of visitors, which was set up in one of the oldest areas of the town.

“There’s records that show Broad Street existed in 1777, but it could even have existed as far back as the 15th century,” said Sylvia.

Broad Street Market was built in 1930 and closed 12 years ago to make way for new homes to be built.

“People would go there every day because they didn’t have fridges,” explained Sylvia. “The market would be bustling and sold everything, from magazines to fruit and vegetables to chickens. There seemed to be one of every type of stall.”

Sylvia, who used to visit the market regularly in the 1950s and ’60s, said: “I can’t remember everyone’s names, but Watson’s sold fruit and veg, Mr Murphy sold sweets and ice cream and Mr Deze sold furniture and items for the home.”

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She added that many Dagenham residents used to keep chickens and rabbits in their back garden and that there was a stall which sold straw for hutches.

The market was hugely popular with visitors travelling to Dagenham from other towns just to browse the stalls.

As shopping trends changed, the market began to decline in popularity and eventually it was closed down to be replaced by a block of flats.

Thanks to the work of historians like Sylvia, though, the market will never be forgotten.