‘The end of an era’: Dagenham Sunday Market to permanently close

Dagenham Sunday Market. Picture: Isabel Infantes

Dagenham Sunday Market. Picture: Isabel Infantes - Credit: Archant

Dagenham Sunday Market has announced it will be permanently closing due to being unable to meet social distancing regulations.

The market, on River Road, closed in March along with other non-essential businesses due to the coronavirus restrictions but had hoped it could reopen later in the year.

In a letter to traders, Frank Nash and Kevin Kelly from owners Charfleets said: “Our strategy to date has been to wait and open the market in September when the infection rate should be much lower and trade would be better, giving traders at least a three month window of decent trading up to Christmas.

“We had hoped by then social distancing would be over but it looks like it is here to stay for some time.

“It has become clear the Dagenham Sunday Market in its present form does not allow social distancing to be maintained.”

The letter went on: “Taking into account that we do have an unusually high number of visitors for a market - 10,000 to 15,000 visitors per Sunday, especially in the run up to Christmas - to comply with social distancing we would need to create extremely wide pedestrian walkways, removing complete aisles of stalls and containers so reducing the market by about 40 per cent.

“It is simply not viable to open a smaller and less attractive market with the huge costs involved in both the running and the reconfiguration fo the layout.

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“After exploring every possible option, we cannot see a financially workable and safe way forward.

“Therefore, we have to sadly announce that the market will not be reopening in September so we are closing down permanently.

“Despite extensive searching, and even with the assistance of our landlord, we have not been successful in finding a suitable 20 acre relocation for the market that would give us at least an additional five years of certainty.

“We’d like to thank all traders and customers that have supported the market. It is thanks to all of you that have made the market what it is. It truly is the end of an era.”

Dagenham Sunday Market first opened in 2002 and grew to become Britain’s biggest open air market with more than 600 stalls.

It was the subject of a documentary, Good Morning Dagenham, which aired on BBC One in March last year.