Covent Garden Market: 1968-1974

Anyone who has visited Covent Garden Market in Central London in the last twenty-five years or more will be aware that it is now a place of street performers, trendy small shops, popular pubs and restaurants, and is normally packed full of tourists. But it was originally a market specialising in the wholesale of fruits and vegetables and fresh flowers. I found this series of photos online, all taken by a keen photographer, Clive Boursnell.

The main Market Hall.

‘Clive Boursnell’s photos of Old Covent Garden Market, captured between 1968 and 1974, are a marvel to behold, his beautifully observed reportage capturing the myriad sights, characters and details making up central London’s main market in its final years.’

All images © Clive Boursnell

A porter rushing by with a heavily laden barrow. Clive caught his speed by blurring the image.

A trader talking to his horse. The horse seems to like him.

Two female market workers.

A trendy young couple with boxes of flowers.

A dandy of a man with his Dalmatian dog.

This local nun was shopping for flowers.

A tired-looking woman sitting next to her wares.

This dapper trader reads his newspaper as he waits for the next customer.

Two women in identical cardigans tying heather into bunches. They are probably East European or Gypsies, and would sell the heather on the streets.

A smart modern woman ties up her flower boxes.

This dealer’s display was sure to catch the eye of shoppers.

An English Sunday

Today is Sunday, the weather is nice, and Julie doesn’t have to go to work. This means that we will do the typical English thing. Jobs. There is a spare room to be investigated, the left overs of the recent move still need sorting. A purchase of a mesh fly screen last month, means that it will finally have to be fitted. There are fences and gates to paint, lots of weekly washing to get done, and as it is sunny and warm in Norfolk, there is no excuse for slackness.

The fly screen is installed in about 45 minutes. It did not go as planned, what ever does? The supplied fixings are useless, as it is too close to the door frame for the hooks to work. It has to be screwed directly into the brickwork instead. It works well enough though, and should reduce the amount of flies gaining access to the kitchen-diner. Trouble is, the dog is scared of it, and very reluctant to go through it. We will have to see if he gets brave enough to tackle it, or it will be another wasted idea.

Julie gets busy with sorting the spare room. Stuff for the Charity Shop, winter clothes for the loft. Lots of boxes and bags to go through. I decide that it is best to take Ollie the dog for his walk, so I will be free to get on with the fence painting later. He enjoys nearly two hours at the meadow, and plays in the river with a friendly Lurcher.

Back at home, the fence stain is stirred, brushes readied, and out I go. The makers of the wood preservative state that this will last for five years, so hopefully, I won’t be doing this again until after my 65th birthday. The weather stays fine, and I manage a full coat on two panels, and two gates, front and back. Of course, I am covered in the stuff, even contriving to fall into a freshly painted gate, so staining both shorts, and shirt. Luckily, the stuff is water based, so washable. With a very minor sense of a job well done, I wash out the brushes, get cleaned up, change my clothes, and get on with preparing the evening meal.

Like many families in England, we are having a traditional Sunday roast. In our case, this is lamb, with rosemary and garlic, accompanied by roast potatoes and carrots, as well as cauliflower and broccoli. It takes well over an hour to cook, and is not ready until almost 8pm. Fortunately, it is delicious, and feels well-earned, after a day doing ‘jobs’. By 8.40 pm, everything is cleared away and washed up, and I am writing this blog. We still have most of the evening before us, and the planned jobs are, thankfully, all behind us.

Many of my fellow bloggers write of Foreign adventures, filming monkeys, or swimming with sharks. Some are busy with projects, writing worthy articles, or inventing new recipes. To them, I am sure that today must have seemed to have been a boring day in my World. However, I am English, and I can assure you, that for a Sunday, It was first rate.