Online shopping is ‘killing off’ Petticoat Lane Market say stallholders

PUBLISHED: 16:15 29 October 2018 | UPDATED: 13:05 30 October 2018

Thriving Petticoat Lane on a Sunday morning in the 1960s. Picture source: Lesley Love collection

Thriving Petticoat Lane on a Sunday morning in the 1960s. Picture source: Lesley Love collection

Lesley Love collection

The Chancellor may be mulling over bringing in a new tax on the big online shopping conglomerates in today’s Budget to try and save high streets and declining traditional markets like Petticoat Lane.

Petticoat Lane reunion organiser Frank Pittal... Petticoat Lane reunion organiser Frank Pittal... "We have succumbed to the internet which is killing street markets." Picture: Mike Brooke

But stallholders in the famous market and even local historians believe Philip Hammond’s proposal is already too late as online shopping is killing off traditional street trading in London’s East End.

Many traders gathered at last night’s Petticoat Lane reunion staged at the Brady community centre in Whitechapel blamed the internet for the decline from 1,000 stalls and pitches 20 years ago to fewer than 50 today which no longer attract the Sunday morning crowds.

Frank Pittal, 64, who organised last night’s reunion, points the figure at the online shopping giants.

“The Lane is coming to an end through evolution,” he told the East London Advertiser.

Local historian Clive Bettington... believes there is Local historian Clive Bettington... believes there is "no future for Petticoat Lane". Picture: Mike Brooke

“It’s also hit the high street and all the shops.

“We’ve all succumbed to the giant of the internet—online shopping is killing market trade.”

He added: “Nobody wants to risk the cold weather, the rain and getting a parking ticket when they can do everything from home.”

It was “a different world” 40 years ago when people came in coachloads to go down ‘The Lane’ for the entertainment and the banter from colourful market characters, Frank recalls.

A crowded Petticoat Lane on a Sunday in the early 1950s. Picture source: Lesley Love collectionA crowded Petticoat Lane on a Sunday in the early 1950s. Picture source: Lesley Love collection

There was the balloon man walking up and down, china seller Sid Strong throwing crockery in the air and Prince Monolulu with his dubious horse-racing tips.

Benny Banks is the 76-year-old ‘king of the market’ who owned 820 stalls he rented out in the market’s heyday in the 1960s and 70s.

His son Joe Banks, 45, said: “There were a-thousand pitches back then—but the Sunday market has shrunk to about 30 regular stalls as the years go on and expenses rise. It’s sad.”

Local historian Clive Bettington, founder of the Jewish East End Celebration Society, believes there is “no future for Petticoat Lane”.

He said: “It doesn’t draw the crowds any more. The atmosphere has gone.

“It was like Hyde Park Corner with opposing political speakers from the Left and Right shouting abuse and ranting at each other.”

The Lane was the launch pad for some of the country’s most successful entrepreneurs, such as Lord Sugar who began by selling car aerials and grocer Jack Cohen who founded the Tesco chain 100 years ago.

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