In the party spirit: St George’s Day hits Romford Market

When it comes to flying the flag, Romford Market traders are never backward in coming forward as the whole of the Market Place was covered in the red and white crosses of our patron saint.

Trades wrapped bunting round every bar and upright on their stalls on Saturday in honour of the slayer of dragons.

“I’ve never seen so many flags,” said Sandra Knight of Aveley Road. “Weather wise it was the perfect day and the traders lit up the Market leaving no one in any doubt just what a patriotic bunch they are.”

One of the early visitors was Mayor of London, Boris Johnson who walked the entire length of the market with MP Andrew Rosindell.

It was no coincidence that the Mayor was also on the campaign trail for the Greater London Authority Elections on May 3, and he was heard to say the visit was well worth while.

One of the first stalls people encounter from the High Street, is that of Tracy Edward, who with Jo Wilson add their own colour with a stall full of bright dresses and tights.

“We love all this,” she said. “It’s a great deal of fun and it shows what a patriotic lot we are. We don’t need too much of an excuse to enjoy ourselves.”

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The council chipped in and put on lots of street entertainers to keep the shoppers amused.

Raising the decibels and dropping the odd clanger was the official Town Cryer, Tony Appleton, who has been ringing the bell for Havering for more than a decade.

“Great day,” he said. “Romford is built on traditions and they are all proud of them; it certainly showed today.”

Mark Needs has spent the last 15 years working in the Market and now runs a hat and stocking stall.

“Though we put out the flags every year on St George’s Day, it also adds to the atmosphere of the Market.

“I have been here since I was 15 and there is nothing else like it.”

The number of visitors swelled as the clouds dispersed and at times the two guest bands, Romford British Legion Youth Band and the Hornchurch Drum and Trumpet Corps played as well as trying to march through the throng from one end of the Market to the other.

One entertainer on stilts managed to keep aloft as he blew up balloons for the children. Martin and Katrina Hawkes are members of the Circus Company who provided much of the street entertainment.

“What an atmosphere,” he said. “We have been so busy, and the response has been brilliant.”

Also taking the day to a different level was Chris Brown the Crystal Wizard. “My costume certainly does open a few eyes, but that is what street entertainment is all about.”

Chris stopped the crowds as he balanced a crystal ball on his head bringing some comments not for publication.

Bringing the full flavour of Romford Market to the day were two stall holders with decades of prime time spent on the cobbles.

Edward Fancourt last of the long line of Fancourts to run the quality fish stall, has been manning the stall for the past 47 years, starting with his father, the legendary Charlie Fancourt.

“The Market is changing,” he said. “But then again everything is. It’s been very busy all day, and if anyone needs telling that the Market is a vital part of the town, then today will leave them in no doubt.”

Another, but slightly younger part of the legend is 39 year old Caron Webb.

She is the granddaughter of Romford Market’s legendary ‘Mrs Charity’, flower girl Nelly Simms, who brought a lifetime of colour to the town. Nelly and her husband Harry, were an essential part of the Market and Caron used to help Nelly in her flower shop in the Arcade.

“It’s a way of life. I used to help my Nan in her shop and even though I got married and now have two girls, this is where I feel I belong.

“You won’t get rich doing the market, but if it pays the bills and I love the atmosphere. It’s all worthwhile.”

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