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Document four

Dartford High Street market, 1900

About 1900, the Market consisted of several stalls of all shapes and sizes, belonging to the stall holders, mostly local people, who brought and erected them each Saturday at about 6 am., in readiness for the business of the day. They were all covered by canvas awnings and adapted for the special trade carried on, and stood on the south side of the High Street. The Market lasted all day until nearly midnight, although Teddy Upton, the Market Keeper rang the old 'Market Bell' at 10 pm...At dusk the stalls were illuminated by flaring paraffin gravity and pressure lamps that not only gave light and heat but smoke and smell.

The stalls varied in their trade or business. The first one was run by Johnny Bacon, a greengrocer of Hythe Street. Next was a sweet stall...Then there were Levi Turrell, a fishmonger, another fishmonger by the name of Clarke, who sold shell fish such as cockles and mussels at 1d a plate, shrimps, winkles and sometimes stewed eels. Then there was another Dartford fishmonger, Alf Slater, and another, Billy Manning.

Next was old David Bacon, a greengrocer...when it came to closing time he used to hold a kind of auction, selling off bunches of grapes and hands of bananas to the highest bidder...Next was a butcher from London named Wood and, from him at the end of the day, one could get quite a good joint cheaply...Then there was a stall occupied by a Jewish lady selling clothes and haberdashery...Next was old Preddy selling plants and flowers from his smallholding off Instone Road. A choice stall was the baked potato man with his 'tater engine' with a lovely coke fire, selling baked potatoes at 1d each and, in season, choice baked chestnuts at 1d a bag. Sometimes a stall was taken by a man selling birds such as canaries, linnets and bullfinches etc. in cages.

On Market Days the street was crowded and good business was done. What with the cries of the stallholders extolling their wares, the banter and general good humour, the Market was an entertaining place.

In the afternoon and evening, the High Street was devoid of traffic except for the occasional horse-drawn cart...the streets were the promenade ground for all the local 'bloods' and their girls, from the Church to the top of Hythe Street and back again. We called it 'The Monkey Parade'.
Close to midnight the stallholders removed their remaining stock and the stalls, and carted all away on the old-fashioned costers' barrows...The Market site was washed down and the Market was over for another week.


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