Women traders

As well as standing in front of market stalls as shoppers, women stand behind the stalls as traders. For over 100 years women have worked in the market as street sellers, stall holders, and store owners, and have played an active role in the day-to-day life of the market.

 Mrs Phyllis McCarthy ©East End Advertiser 1976, Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives

Mrs Phyllis McCarthy ©East End Advertiser 1976, Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives

Tessy Cohen use to stand on a stool. The legs were cut off the stool, so that she could stand on it but still be higher than all the patrons who’d come ‘round. And she’d say, ‘right, who give me a pound for this?’ And she’d have this big paper bag, and she would put bread in there, and a tin of beans. Some margarine. All your essentials, like your toilet roll, milk, maybe a bit of cheese, and then she’d say ‘who give me a pound for that?’
— Marg
The name was Sugarman, you know. She used to be out on a stall outside with great blocks of salt and she had a saw. She used to saw it up and you’d get a sort of like a triangle of salt. This was sort of blocks of salt that you’d use in cooking. And she had a very gruff voice, sort of thing, and I always thought as a kid, that the salt had got into her.
— Tony
 Mrs Freda Fisher ©East End Advertiser 1976, Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives

Mrs Freda Fisher ©East End Advertiser 1976, Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives

I can remember the woman selling sweets, she always seemed very sort of, well dressed, well groomed.
— Penny