The Shepherds Bush Market is an hundred years old street market and historical landmark within the West London community.
Intrigued by the vibrancy and multicultural dimension of this community of traders, many of whom have been here for generations, this project examines the social history of the market through a comparison between the present and the past of the market and some long-serving traders.
For this project, I have asked the people portrayed to let me have an old photograph of them made at the market, in order to compare “Now and Then”. Old photographs, either from the traders or from the archive, are displayed on the right hand side.
Shots were taken during Winter/Spring 2017.
Laura is the owner of one the oldest business in the market. “Our shop was first started by my father in 1933. This is my mother who first came to Shepherds Bush Market in 1955 when she became engaged to my dad. It was a cold wintry day in November and, having only worked in a nice warm office previously, she declared that she would never come back again. However, some 62 years later she still comes down and helps me most mornings. I first came to the market when I was very small and could only just peep over the counter of the shop. I have been here in my own right since 1991 and now couldn't imagine working anywhere else. Shepherds Bush is a vibrant eclectic mix of traders, customers and tourists of all nationalities from all over the world and is probably the best market that most Londoner’s have never heard of”
Tony has been in the shop from ’76. His father first opened a stall in ’51, having fled from India to the UK after the WWII. The lingerie stall ‘Bobby’, was originally opened by his uncle and the family operated overall three stalls in the market. “At the beginning, in the market there was primarily the Jewish community and it was called the golden market. Nowadays the demographics of the market have changed, with majority of the traders being from Afghanistan”
Jacky, “I have worked in the fishmongers for about 21 years now, originally started out to help a friend for a few days and have never looked back! I was born in London, my father was from St Lucia and my mother English so I come from a diverse background which is very much reflected in Shepherd's Bush Market. I was a frequent user of the market as a child with my mother, it was always a daunting affair as the market would be packed and moving around was hard ! It has changed so much, it needs to have more diversity in what's being sold to attract customers from a wider range of the area, it's a hope for the future as the market plays such a large part in this community and offers not only things to buy but our customers get that feel of seeing a familiar face and someone to have a quick chat , instead of just a beep at the checkout”
Abdo, originally from Sudan, is the owner of the foam shop and has been in the market for 30 years. “In the 80s and early 90s it was a seasonal market, busier on summer where primarily customers were Arabs. Winters were quieter months and I remember traders clapping when some of the customer would walk through the empty road of the market. In the mid 90’s it became an all season’s market. Nowadays lot of customers come after buying foam online because they are disappointed either with measurement and shape or the quality”
Sylvia Fletcher and her husband John have been running Fletcher’s Fruit and Vegetables for over 55 years. They retired a few years ago to leave their son John to take the reins of the family business. “I used to start work very early as the market would open at 7am. Workers from across the road used to shop here before other customers arrive”
Atif, originally from Egypt. He is the owner of the over 100 years old bags shop. “I have been in business since 1997, I used to have 5 people working with me up to early 2000, now down to only 2. My father used to come to the market to help”
Nicholas Mills is the director of the “E. Mills & Son” carpet & rugs shop established in 1918. Nick’s great grandfather secured business with the BBC to supply film props, such as carpets and rucks, and nowadays the business supplies a large percentage of the UK film production, with titles such as James Bond and Harry Potter.
“Only the God knows where things are in this shop”
Surjeet has been the proud owner of the British Lingerie Shop for 25 years, and has been working in the market since 1984. “The customers know us, they know they can buy with confidence. We know their children. We served their parents”
Sara is the owner of the hat stall, a business started by her parents which has been there for about 40 years. “Although there are more sales in the cold weather, we also provide hats for special occasions such as weddings and horse races”. According to Sara, the area is becoming more gentrified and developers would like the market to fit the “image of Westfield”, at expenses of the small traders.