£1.4m boost for Chapel Market as trade is slow to recover

‘Things still aren’t back to normal... no one’s buying’

Friday, 5th November 2021 — By Anna Lamche

David Twydell and Pamela at stall

Pamela and David Twydell at their fruit and veg stall in the street market

ONE of London’s oldest markets has been awarded money to boost post-Covid trade – amid warnings over “diabolical” drops in custom.

Chapel Market, based in the heart of Angel for over a century, will receive £1million from the Mayor’s Good Growth Fund, topped up by £400,000 from Islington Council.

David Twydell, chair of the market’s traders’ association, said he was concerned the coronavirus crisis has only accelerated a drop in trade.

“Things still aren’t back to normal, it’s a very quiet market, the weather’s lovely, the sun’s shining, but no one’s buying anything,” said Mr Twydell, owner of a fruit and veg stall.

“Saturday used to be our busiest day but weekends are diabolical now,” Mr Twydell said. “Saturday trade is at least down by half.”

The future of the traditional street market is uncertain, traders fear.

“There’s plenty of call for food markets, but we don’t want to turn it into a food market, we want to keep it a bit traditional,” Mr Twydell added.

“People’s shopping habits have changed, now it’s online, you can get your groceries delivered in 10 minutes if you really want.”

But ordering online and in supermarkets leaves shoppers out of touch with the community, he said, adding: “Markets bring personal service. They keep saying about mental health issues and people need to get out of the house and talk to people and get fresh air.”

Attracting new traders to the market is vital for its survival, the stallholders believe. “We need to try and invite some new traders up,” said Mr Twydell, who has been working at the market since the 1960s.

“I can remember up here when the police closed the market off to stop people coming in, it was so busy, heaving with people. Now you could probably fire a gun through and you wouldn’t hit anyone.”

Joanne Coote, owner of The Card Stall and vice-chair of the traders’ association, also thinks a new generation of traders are key to the market’s success.

She said: “There needs to be investment in bringing new traders into the market and nurturing them. So many people have set up businesses over lockdown, it would be great if they could be helped to start at the market.”

Ms Coote would like to see the Good Growth Fund used to draw new crowds to the market by setting up occasional “specialist markets like craft markets, or a pop-up festival,” she said.

The council is currently asking residents to take part in a consultation to find out how locals would like the money spent.

Sarah Hayes, a regular customer at Chapel Market and a disability awareness tutor, would like to see the market made more accessible. “They need to make the restaurants and the shops within the market accessible. It’s a nice market but I say to my friends we can’t meet up in the market because the restaurants are not accessible.”

Others think the market needs more hot food stalls. “What was really good about the market before [Covid] was the variety,” said Sebastian Dica, who works at a nearby office. “Our preference is hot food from here over something from a chain, there’s a bit of a lack of variety at the moment.”

Islington’s business chief Councillor Asima Shaikh said: “We very much look forward to feedback to help shape this major investment in our much-loved Chapel Market.”

To take part in the consultation, fill out the council’s online questionnaire by November 14.

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