New boards show Romford Market through the ages

Visitors to Romford Market can catch a glimpse through time with new boards showing the market and shopping hall through the ages.

The display features archive photos, paintings and drawings from 1831, 1897, 1911, 1939 and 1958 to show the area’s development over the centuries.

The earliest boards show livestock including sheep and cows filling the square but by 1939 the mix of stalls is closer to the market of today.

Councillor Andrew Curtin thinks the timeline is “super”.

He said: “It seems to me that they make an improvement to the environment in the market.

“People find them very interesting and really enjoy looking at them, there was a steady stream of people going over to look while I was having a gander.”

The marketplace dates back more than 760 years to 1247, when it was a sheep market.

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The distance the animals could walk became a deciding factor in the market’s development when King Henry III granted Romford royal permission to hold a market every Wednesday.

Six and two third miles was reckoned as the maximum distance the sheep could walk in a day, creating the minimum distance between markets.

That marker has allowed Romford Market to fight off competing markets to this day.

In more recent times, the marketplace has starred in the The Prodigy’s music video “Voodoo People” and BBC reality show The Apprentice.

The market trades on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday each week, with 270 stalls selling everything from tools to toys, clothes and food.

The huge 2.3m by 4m history boards have been installed by Havering Council to mask ongoing work on a derelict building.

Romford Shopping Hall sales and marketing manager Michelle Fitzgibbons said it looked “awful” before the boards went up.

She said: “It felt like being in the middle of a building site but now it’s nice to have something to generate interest.”