Woolwich & Districts
Day, Beresford Square, Woolwich....1950 ish.
Excitement, anticipation, of sights and
Hurry to the bus stop; hop on the bus or the tram.
The trip in; familiar sights.
And, in the distance.....
noise and smells,
crowds, bustling,shuffling, smiling folk.
looking, and touching, and asking,
meeting and talking,
buying and selling,
calling and shouting.
Rows of barrows, canvas clad, all
lit up with strung out bulbs
Rows of stalls, a canvas town,
all proudly displaying,
all grandly arraying,
colourful piles of neatly stacked fruit,
so neatly packed with white price tag.
In season plums red, black, yellow and
Apples and cherries, so red, so shiny they gleam.
Oranges and lemons and tangerines,
than their neighbour's,
so it seems!
Over the busy road that cuts through
where wet cobble stones greet
are stalls full of fish with glassy eyes
that stare at you, as you walk by.
Neatly stacked in slimy wet piles,
silver scaled herrings,
large open mouthed cod,
greeny-blue marbled mackerel, shimmering masses
and brown red haddocks.
Headless congers coiled and still,
sad flat faced plaice sprinkled with
and fat red fingers pocking about
chipping big ice blocks full of bubbles
frozen and trapped.
And just up from the sharp smells of
comes the loud shouts of the fella
“ Look at all these,” he invitingly asks,
holding up an arrangement of “finest porcelain, so lovely
to see, you'll never buy
cheaper from any
one but me!”
Nearby another crowd are gathered around
a man stood high aloft on a box.
He's piling up a very flash looking transistor
radio, AND a box of chocolates, AND a set of crystal tumblers.
“ Who'll give me a quid, no.... 'ang on,15 bob AND......
I'll chuck in anuver box of chocks!”
“ OK then, yer miserable sods!.....
.....give us 'arf a nicker and I'll chuck in a slab of
chocolate... on top of the pile ....to the first ones in
wiv the dosh!”
“Take the good ladies' money 'arry.”
And at the end of the very long
and busy day
the hustle and the bustle
slowly fades away,
along with the crowds and the noise
and the light of day.
Dark wet hosed-down cobble stones
reflect the streetlights
as the council dustmen and their carts
shovel up the piles,
the left over remnants of the now still Market.
And down the darkened side roads
wooden, steel rimmed, wheels of the
barrows, now empty and bare, parked, jammed
Places for kids to play on through the coming week,
to be pushed and pulled out again and piled high
next market day,
come rain or shine,
hail or snow.
Colin Weightman. A common kid remembers.