The hustle and bustle is back in the market

Tuesday, 3rd March 2020 — By The Xtra Diary

Robin Smith dairy man

Robin Smith in Berwick Street

AND so to Berwick Street, where the historic street market still graces the pavements of this delightful little piece of Soho.

Regular Extra readers will recall that in 2017 traders won a prolonged battle against Westminster Council’s plans to sell the market off and allow a private firm to run it.

At the time there were just seven regulars stalls there and they feared such a move would herald the end of centuries of buying and selling.

Wander along there today and there are 30 stalls doing a brisk business on a cold and wet February Thursday morning: not bad, especially as one side of the street has been a huge building site for five years.

Soho Dairy proprietor Robin Smith tells Diary the building works has obviously hit trade and working conditions – the closure of a host of stores including a Co-op, which brought at least 1,000 shoppers into the street every lunch time.

It also saw the demise of the likes of the Record and Tape Exchange, another store that brought in a lot of people.

The work was supposed to take 18 months, traders add, but is still not finished.

But no matter, the Berwick Street marketeers are a hardy lot with products they are rightly proud of.

Judging by the hustle and bustle of the fruit and veg sellers, the street food stalls offering up delicious meals from around the world at a healthy price are living proof that the traditional London markets, with their Victorian barrows piled high with fresh wares staffed by those with a good line in patter, are in rude health.

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