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Champion’ Ben quits after 10-year battle of Petticoat Lane

PUBLISHED: 09:41 06 February 2009 | UPDATED: 14:01 05 October 2010

Cramped Petticoat Lane that Ben (inset) claims is unsafe

Cramped Petticoat Lane that Ben (inset) claims is unsafe

Carmen Valino

THE self-styled champion of Petticoat Lane market in London’s East End is throwing in the towel after a 10-year David and Goliath’ battle with the Town Hall. A stubborn 66-year-old Ben Banks is finally quitting because he says they’re letting The Lane’ go to the wall. He lost the final round over “public safety” when the High Court booted out his latest challenge to Tower Hamlets council’s market management

By Mike Brooke

THE self-styled champion of Petticoat Lane market in London’s East End is throwing in the towel after a 10-year David and Goliath’ battle with the Town Hall.

A stubborn 66-year-old Ben Banks is finally quitting because he says they’re letting The Lane’ go to the wall.

Now he is selling up his business which has been going since the 1920s hiring out market stalls to traders.

Ben lost the final round over “public safety” with Tower Hamlets Council when the High Court booted out his latest challenge to the authority’s market management.

“I was right vexed about it,” he told the East London Advertiser after the case. “They put me under such pressure as a lay-person—all my evidence was dismissed.”

Now he reckons Petticoat Lane is in its death throws because regulations aren’t being managed properly.

“They’ve run it down so much it’s like a bazaar,” Ben insists. “The stalls spread out in haphazard fashion from their regulation pitches and block the road.

“Traders don’t hire my smaller regulation-size stalls any more because they get away with their own stands.

“My business has gone from 850 customers in the Seventies down to 30 today. It’s not worth it any more.”

Ben’s beef is the free for all’ where he says stalls encroach onto the road space along Middlesex Street and Wentworth Street, causing “a public safety nightmare.”

There should be 10ft clearance in the middle—but photographs show no room for emergency ambulances or fire-engines.

But the High Court rejected Ben’s challenge and threw out his case lock, stock and barrel.

The Sunday market down The Lane’ goes back four centuries, reaching its zenith in the 1920s with a-thousand stalls along the half-mile narrow thoroughfare now renamed Middlesex Street, along Whitechapel’s parish boundary at Aldgate.

“It’s a shame The Lane’ is turning into a common boot sale’ bazaar,” Ben sadly observes. “The whole thing is a shambles..”

Traders, he tells you, are leaving Petticoat Lane in droves.

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