Shoppers queue for bread on opening weekend of new Wapping street market
- Credit: Mike Brooke
Bread queues returned to the East End as shoppers flocked to buy their weekly groceries.
But it wasn’t back to the rationing of wartime Britain, but a rush for organic produce at a new Saturday event - the Wapping Docklands Market.
Will Cutteridge realised his longtime dream to run his own street market in April when he found a spot on the quayside at Shadwell Basin in the old London Docks while visiting his dad.
He was pleasantly surprised to see shoppers queueing for loaves and pasta back to and along Wapping Wall on the market's first weekend open.
“It was pretty crazy,” Will said. “We had a bread queue going out to the street. We were running around making sure people were ‘social distancing’ so queues got so long.
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“Then the bread man ran out of bread.
“The pasta maker also ran out after two hours and had to pack up. He’s coming back next week with a lot more pasta.”
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The pie maker only had a few pastries left long before the market closed, Will said, and beer also ran out early at the pub stall.
“I’m chuffed,” he added. “Well, the proof is in the pudding.”
John Keen who runs the Dockers pub in Wapping Lane was reduced to selling spirits and cocktails on his stall.
“The real ale just sold out," he revealed. "But it was worth coming as I get to meet the community after lockdown.”
John plans to open his own beer garden on May 17, and is just adding the finishing touches.
The new Wapping Market is open each Saturday 10am-4pm at Brussels Wharf by the red bridge on Wapping Wall.
Some shoppers came from quite a distance. Families turned up from New Cross, just four stops down on the Overground, to make a day of eating al fresco on the quayside, such as young Charlie - “age five and three quarters".
The little market attracted organic farmers and east London traders as well as producers from Europe with Italian pies, olive oil and French cheeses.
Italian Romam Haider, who now lives in Bethnal Green running his own pie shop, admitted being “a little sceptical about coming” because of the coronavirus, but had so many customers for his steak and vegan pies that he ran out.
“I had long queues for a couple of hours,” Romam said. “We were struggling a bit in the first lockdown as we always sold at markets, so I hope they now get us out of trouble.”
An Italian couple also living in east London turned up in their vintage 1960s Fiat 500 to promote the olive oil they produce north of Naples.
Alfonse Petti is working at a Canary Wharf bank, but he and his wife Inge spend their spare time in markets like Wapping selling home-grown produce.
“It’s something we do on the side of our fulltime jobs,” Alfonse said. “We bought the olive grove from an old gentleman who didn’t have anyone to pass it on to and just fell in love with the place at first sight.”
Their olive grove, Inge points out, is on the slopes of Mount Roccamonfina, an old volcano that makes the soil rich in minerals.
She was pleased with the market and added: “We’ve done brisk business. It was worth getting out of bed this morning.”
The new Saturday market is an entrepreneurial dream come true for Will Cutteridge, who owned up to being “passionate about a sustainable alternative to the big supermarkets”.
Most produce travels 900 fewer miles from source to retail with less carbon emissions than goods in the supermarkets, he points out, and are wrapped in degradable paper bags rather than plastic.
Wapping Docklands Market is open on Saturdays from 10am to 4pm.
Find out more at https://www.zeroomarkets.co.uk/wapping-market