Fountain Street – The Market

Of course if it was Friday, it was Market Day. There was the old market on Fountain Street although my auntie remembered it being in Market Place. Sometime in the 1920s there, a wheel came off a lurry in Long Street, somewhere near the Assheton Arms and it ran into the market and injured somebody very badly.

It was near the market on Fountain Street that my grandad showed me a wagtail that was strutting about in the croft that was just by the start of the railings. By the time I remember it, the railings were a shade of dark yellow.

Along the railings sat an old chap. He had lost both legs below the knees and walked around on stumps encased in leather and finished off with brass upholstery tacks. He sat before three paintings that he might have done himself. I only remember one of them. It was of a cross on a stark background. His cap on the ground showed a meagre collection.

I had an aunt who lived in Fountain Street too. She used to meet us sometimes. Then we would go down the ramp into the market.

Always a Pessagno’s Ice Cream van there. Then we would look at the pot stall. “For Mammie’s Pearlies” one of them announced. I asked what pearlies were. Nobody answered. Then we went ot Waterhouse’s stall for eggs. There were also trussed chickens with the price written on the wooden skewer in pencil. There was also cheese , a huge round one in a muslin. That always smelled good.

Then we would walk a bit further on. Mr Moores sold biscuits. “A pound of mixed” it was, regularly. Mr Moores had been a POW in Burma. His wife was an organist too. She had a really nice contralto voice.

Then we would walk around the market, taking each aisle in turn. Towels, bedding; overalls; pans, soap, household things, even costume jewellery; clothes, woollens and so on. Always a colouring book, sometimes, a magic painting book, where you just painted water on and the colours appeared as if by magic.

Gas lamps on Suffield Street and on a good day, a glimpse of the Fire Engine.

Home again, leaving the bare bulb-lit stalls and the noise of chatter. Sometimes, there was a roundabout. Sometimes, it rained and I admired – even as a child – the ingenuity employed by the stallholders to keep off the rain. They must have been frozen in winter. I was well wrapped-up and I bloody well was.

Nobody would believe you now.


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