Search

History: How Romford’s 767-year-old market has always been a focal point

PUBLISHED: 12:00 23 February 2014

Cattle in Romford high street. Picture: Brian Evans

Cattle in Romford high street. Picture: Brian Evans

Archant

Romford Market began in 1247. Cattle trading ended in 1958, but Wednesday is still market day – and Friday and Saturday too.

St George's Day celebrations Romford Market.St George's Day celebrations Romford Market.

Romford Market became the meeting point between sellers from Essex and buyers from London.

Clues to the market’s economic zone come from deals that went wrong.

In 1394, John Mokke, from Orsett in Thurrock, sold 12 lambs at the market to a Londoner who failed to pay.

In 1686, Sarah Abit, from Bulphan, rode to Romford Market with John Adams, of Childerditch, near Brentwood.

Prof Ged MartinProf Ged Martin

Adams, who hated his neighbour, poultry breeder Thomas Stanes, threatened to make “Stanes his geese fliue short home” [Suggesting their wings will be clipped]. When the geese were slaughtered the next day, she reported the conversation.

Farmers brought cartloads of grain for sale.

Richard Thurgood came from Roxwell, near Chelmsford, in 1596, hoping to sell his wheat at seven shillings a bushel.

But the consignment was seized by John Harmon, a Romford baker, claiming he had compulsory purchase powers to feed the poor. Fobbed off with five shillings a bushel compensation, Thurgood alleged Harmon then sold his wheat for private profit.

The market was a trading centre. War with France in 1793 interrupted food imports and prices soared. A farmer from Herongate, near Brentwood, established a record price next year selling grain to a windmill on Shepherds Hill, Harold Wood.

Outlying communities needed road access to Romford. Parishes mended their own highways. North Ockendon, a large parish but with few people, was a weak link for the Basildon area.

In 1590, there were complaints about a “noyful slough” on “the direct way to Romford Market from Laindon”.

Hacton Lane crossed Ingrebourne on a footbridge, but in the 1660s, Upminster pressure upgraded it to a cart bridge – because it was a route to Romford Market.

Romford butchers resented competition from London. In 1392, John Aldewyn used the confidential proceedings of Havering’s manor court to accuse London butchers of malpractice. Somebody leaked the story. Aldewyn went “in despair of his life”.

Others welcomed their custom. Because the market started early, the Londoners arrived on Tuesday night.

In 1579, Romford innkeeper John Bright left cash in his will so his Tuesday guests, the London butchers, could have a memorial dinner.

Romford Market went through a bad patch after 1885, when the railway (now the District Line) reached Hornchurch and Upminster, whose poorer residents started shopping at Barking.

But the Romford-Grays line, opened in 1893, restored its central position, and from the 1920s Romford became the hub of bus services.

Hence local historian Ted Ballard recalled that “all the people from the surrounding villages” thought of Romford as “our old market town”.

On December 6, 1698, a Purfleet man journeyed to Romford. Evidently, he planned to stay overnight for market day.

Some joker wrote in the West Thurrock parish register: “Old Dance has gone to Rumford; And a good dinner be his Comford.”

This precious voice from the past gives a pronunciation hint - Rumford/Romford rhymed with “comfort” - and a reminder that for 767 years, the market has made Havering’s capital the focal point for a wide area.

0 comments

Latest Romford News Stories

38 minutes ago

Four thrilling plays featuring young performers come to Queen’s Theatre next week as part of the National Theatre’s annual Connections festival.

A look back at the biggest local stories from this day 20, 40 and 60 years ago.

10:00

The Havering Numismatic Society (HNS) was established in 1967 and in June the group’s members will celebrate the club’s 50th anniversary.

Yesterday, 15:00

There are not many pop culture icons that are cooler than Dusty Springfield.

Yesterday, 12:00

A dance music festival will not only be entertaining thousands of music lovers this year but will also be helping the homeless.

Yesterday, 10:00

17th century sea captain Andrew Branfill’s name lives on in a street name and even a school. But, says Prof Ged Martin, his business was people trafficking

Fri, 17:14

Reporters Matthew Clemenson and Ralph Blackburn joined Time 107.5 FM’s Steve Allen for this week’s East London News Review podcast.

Fri, 17:00

With the now-lost royal palace, the Roman Road and centuries-old Romford Market part of its past (and present), Havering really does have a rich and varied history.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read news

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

News from your area

Competitions

Having a brand new kitchen is something that lots of people want but can only dream of. Sadly keeping up to date and making our living spaces as nice as they can be is a costly and incredibly stressful business. Even a fresh coat of paint makes all the difference but isn’t easy or quick.

Who wouldn’t love the chance to go on a shopping spree. Imagine being able to walk into a shop and choose whatever your heart desires without having to worry about how much it costs.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Romford Recorder
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now