Dagenham Sunday Market gets a slice of the pie

Tom Allpress with his partner Kelly Bromley by their Robins & Mash pie van at Dagenham Sunday Market

Tom Allpress with his partner Kelly Bromley by their Robins & Mash pie van at Dagenham Sunday Market. - Credit: Archant

Tender loving care is the secret behind the parsley-soaked pie line that is filling up its latest branch.

This is according to Tom Allpress, whose great-uncle Ted Robins opened his first Robins Pie & Mash in Upton Park back in 1929. And though eels no longer fill the pies, hungry customers have been flocking to the new portacabin-cum-pie shop at the Dagenham Sunday Market since it opened two weekends ago.

“I’m excited about it, it’s proper Cockney grub, it’s east London and it’s still popular,” said Tom, 49, who runs the River Road, Barking, unit with partner Kelly Bromley, 38, and his cousin Jane Robins, 42.

“It’s the same secret family recipe we have had for years. We use our own liquor which is traditionally made from a family recipe passed down from generation to generation, including fresh English parsley and tender loving care.”

The market was an obvious destination, Tom explained, because of their target audience.

“All of our customers are from that area,” said the dad-of-three, whose son has started training with the firm. “It’s the best market in London, everyone says it’s the only one worth doing.

“Other stallholders were saying it’s quiet because of the time of year but we did really well because of all of the loyal support in the area.”

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The business has been through its ups and downs – the portacabin they are now using in River Road was previously used in Gallions Reach, Beckton, until they had to leave the land 18 months ago.

But the mouth-watering parcels of pie (Scottish beef or vegetarian) and mash – still sometimes served with a side of eels – never grows old. Now hand-making the pies en masse in a factory in Loughton, Debden, the family firm supplies frozen ready meals for Asda as well as fresh pies to their five shops across east London.

Tom, who has worked for his family firm for 30 years, says he will never get bored of plying pies.

“This is exciting,” he said. “It’s like a local pie shop with benches and tables, it’s great. I eat a pie every day – they’re delicious.”