Home Oral history interview with Larry Julian

Oral history interview with Larry Julian


Audio file

Production date


Object number


Physical Description

Oral history interview with Larry Julian (b.1953), Chairman of Ridley Road Traders Association.

Associated Organisation

Associated Person

Julian , Larry (Subject of)

Associated Place

Ridley Road market (Place)
Dalston (Place)


Digital file (.wav)
Digital file (.mp3)

Credit line

Photograph - copyright Arnau Oriel

On display?



[00:04:00] Ridley Road Market 30 years ago: mainly families with four or five stalls each:

So the families have started to decrease – it’s not so family-oriented anymore. And because Ridley Road being such a cosmopolitan market, obviously we’ve got loads of different nationalities, that’s built up over the years that’s become market traders. Whether it be Asians, or Turkish people, or the West Indian people, or Eastern European people. It’s just different – it’s a totally different way the market works now to how it did 30 years ago.

[00:06:09] Ridley Road in ‘60s: change from Jewish to West Indian market, and other cultures after them

I was born in ’53. Probably started working in the market late ‘50s. Probably can start remembering things – early ‘60s. ‘60s then was obviously a very Jewish clientele. And the Jewish people was starting to move away from Hackney, and the West Indian people started to move into the borough. So as time went on it became more of a West Indiany sort of market. You had other races of people. But it was predominantly West Indian.

I’ve had the experience of trading with the Jewish people, trading with the Eastern Europeans – with the Turkish people – and the West Indian people.

[00:08:00] Ridley Road Traders: Cohesion, but no longer tight-knit in and out of work-hours:

From a family oriented market, it’s changed into more like a cosmopolitan-run market. So the social side of it is not as friendly as it used to be – and that’s no disrespect to the new traders we’ve got come in. It’s because they’ve got different ways they live – different ways of living. When we was younger, we all stuck together – all the traders, all the parents, the mums and dads and the kids. And we socialised together. But as we come into the ‘80s and move into the ‘90s, different sorts of people come into the market. And the way they socialise is totally different to the way I socialise.

[00:08:57] Ridley Road: Larry’s pride in relationship with his fellow traders:

I know that traders in the market have a hell of a lot of respect for me – which is nice. And that’s from any culture. And if you done a survey in the market, I don’t think there’d be one trader – I would confidently say – there wouldn’t be one trader to have a bad version of me because they know that I’m fair with everybody. That’s the way I like to be. I’m a great believer – live and let live.

[00:12:50] Ridley Road: Larry’s always been happy as a one market guy:

Born and bred in the market. Never wanted to work any other market but Ridley Road… I’ve always had a good relationship with the customers. And I’m what they call a ‘one market guy’. I’m happy. Ridley Road’s open six days a week. I work five of them six. And as I said, every day I come to work, I enjoy coming to work.

[00:13:26] Handed-down market-history: How Ridley Market moved into Ridley Road and became regulated pitches:

The market going back to the ‘20s is as much as I know… Ridley Road wasn’t actually Ridley Road. At that time it was a market on the A10 – the old A10. This is the things that my father and some of my family tell me. Is that you had the trams. You had the horse and carts. And the market then, guys what they would do – probably my great-grandfather – they would pitch up a stall, a market stall on the old A10. And buy their fruit. It was mainly fruit – that’s why over the years Ridley Road has been famous for that. And then they would shop in the old Spitafields Fruit Market – which is the other side of Shoreditch. And then they’d put their stuff on a wheelbarrow, and they’d walk it from there down to where Ridley Road is now. And then some of the richer ones would have a horse and cart – the poorer ones would have a barrow. Then what happened, you had the trams – they started to introduce the trams along the old A10. It become a health and safety problem at that time. So what they decided was, to move the market inside into Ridley Road. And when the traders started to move into Ridley Road – then the council started to be formed then – and they decided that they would regulate it and license it. So then people would know exactly where they would work every day. And that would be their licensed pitch area. And that as far as I’m aware, was back in the 30s – just before the war. So it all started from then.

[00:26:53] Ridley Road: With ‘OPEN Dalston’, pressure on council. Hackney’s markets - their importance to diverse communities:

The people who live in the borough – shop in the borough – were starting to get concerned that this could be the end of the markets in Hackney. So they started to kick up a bit of a fuss. And the biggest organisation to do this was an organisation called ‘OPEN’ – ‘OPEN Dalston’. And they really started to take this on board, and really started to make their comments felt. And they had a very big backing from the people in Dalston – which was good for us as well, because we become a part of them as well. So we really started to make Hackney realise how important the markets are in Hackney. How important it is to the local communities. How the people wanted it. It was a meeting place, more so… I’m not saying it was different now to what it was say thirty years ago – but obviously the people have changed. Different sorts of people. And it seemed to be that it was needed more now… It was needed years ago because there wasn’t supermarkets, and basically it was where people come to shop for bargains. Although they still come to the markets now to shop for bargains, it’s also a community. And where you get loads of different races – cultures – of people, markets are like a meeting-place for them. And the worrying thing was, if you’d loose the markets, you’re going to loose this community effect that you’re getting. And we tried to make Hackney council realise this, and they did – eventually.

[00:33:34] A Ridley trader’s family history #1: selling wartime scrap metal after the First World War:

They had a photo on ‘OPEN’, which I gave them, of my great-grandfather standing on a tank outside Walthamstow Town Hall. Because then you could buy, after the (First World sic) war, they wanted to sell off the metal. And my great-grandfather bought a tank to sell it off.

[00:33:58] A Ridley trader’s family history #2: horse-people:

My great-grandfather – our class of people – they used to be horse people. Older family, my great-grandfather, had loads of horses. And in the First World War, he used to sell all the horses to the army.