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Tributes to 'loving wheeler dealer' Romford market trader who was a bit of a prankster

PUBLISHED: 17:16 13 February 2019

Tributes have been paid to Alan Rider who worked on Romford Market for most of his life. Photo: Rachel Dickinson

Tributes have been paid to Alan Rider who worked on Romford Market for most of his life. Photo: Rachel Dickinson

Rachel Dickinson

Tributes have been paid to a Romford market trader who was a “prankster” and a “wheeler dealer with a Midas touch” after he passed away following a 17-year battle with Parkinson’s.

Alan with his daughter Zoe on Romford Market in the 1990s. Photo: Rachel DickinsonAlan with his daughter Zoe on Romford Market in the 1990s. Photo: Rachel Dickinson

Alan Charles Rider was the “last Rider on the market” and had been selling fruit and vegetables to the masses since he was a boy.

Mr Rider passed away aged 78 on Thursday, January 31.

Alan started on the market as soon as he could walk, according to his daughter Rachel Dickinson, as his mum (Minnie Rider) and dad (Danny Rider) had a stall there for years before he was born.

She said her dad wouldn’t go to school on market days, and often the truancy officer would find him at the market selling whatever he could find.

The youngest of six, Alan got a name for himself as a barrow boy – he didn’t have a stall but he would push around a large wheelbarrow full of stock - and although he would often be fined for fly hitching, he would still be back the next day.

Alan was a bit of a prankster according to his daughter, here he is on his stall in the 70s. Photo: Rachel DickinsonAlan was a bit of a prankster according to his daughter, here he is on his stall in the 70s. Photo: Rachel Dickinson

Rachel said the market got fed up of him and his wheelbarrow, and when he was in his 20s they finally gave him his own stall, and he was there until he retired about eight years ago.

The market was more than just a job for Alan according to Rachel, who said: “He loved that place, and for us growing up there it was like walking into your living room, it was like having another family, we knew everyone there and we all felt safe there.”

Some of his daughter’s favourite memories of her dad include when he would buy all the children in their street (Robin Close, Romford) ice cream, and she said: “He couldn’t just buy one, he had to buy all the children one.”

Christmas at the Rider household was always an interesting time, and Rachel said from June onwards they would have boxes of tinsel and wrapping paper, along with huge reindeer and Santa ornaments.

Rachel, and her brother Alan, and older sister, Zoe, have all done their time on the market stall, and she remembers standing on a box at Christmas time (because she was so little) and shouting and selling 10 sheets of wrapping paper for a pound.

One year the grandfather-of-three had thousands of bows that he needed to be packaged up so he could sell them on his stall, and he got every house in Robin Close to help him out – he paid each family £3 to put the bows into plastic bags for him.

She said her dad was a prankster and a great storyteller, “he was mesmerising” and the one story he always told about when he was younger and put firecrackers in his brother Stanley’s pockets on his birthday (he was born on November 5) and all the money he had been given as presents fell out.

Rachel said: “He used to tell stories of all the things he used to get up to, but he could barely get to the punch line because he would have us all in fits of laughter, like real belly laughs.”

The father-of-three was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2002, and Rachel said he was a “fighter” and “they don’t make them as tough as my dad anymore” but that never stopped him from trying to get a good deal.

Being a “wheeler dealer” certainly runs in the family, and Rachel’s cousin is a market trader in Wales, and her dad – even though he couldn’t leave the house – would still try and help him get the best price possible on whatever he was selling.

“He was a wheeler dealer right till the end, and he will be missed by so many people” said his youngest daughter.

The funeral of Alan Rider will take place on Monday (February 18) at South Essex Crematorium in Ockendon Road, Upminster at 2.40pm, and then onto the Collier Row Catholic Club in Lowshoe Lane to “share some stories.”

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