Brixton has one of London’s most vibrant historic markets, dating from the 1870s. Its traditional wooden market barrows were once a familiar sight but today only 12 remain, ranging from 65 to 100 years old.
Brixton Market has a proud history with Victorian origins and later Caribbean heritage. It's one of the best known and loved street markets in London. Many of London's markets have changed beyond recognition in the last 100 years and very few historic barrows now survive. Those that do survive have been passed down through trading families and tell the story of 19th century London when goods were transported all across the city by horse and cart.
All the barrows have been patched up from time to time, but as they age the timber gets worn and the iron tyres loosen. The lack of specialist wheelwrights in London means traders aren't able to get the wheels fixed properly - eventually the barrows become unusable.
We are launching a complete restoration of Brixton Market's historic barrows!
With your help, a carpenter's workshop will be set up under Brixton’s railway arches this summer - you'll be able to see local Brixton carpenter Mari Reijnders at work on the barrows while the project is underway! All wood will be repaired and repainted, keeping the original timber where possible. A specialist wheelwright will replace the wheels, and the historic lettering, once marking owner and pitch, will be recarved.
It costs about £3400 for the specialist carpenter and wheelwright to restore an entire barrow from scratch, but most of the barrows can have just parts replaced and restored. It costs £300-£750 to fix a wheel.
This is a joint project between Brixton Market Traders Federation, the Heritage of London Trust and Lambeth Council. The restoration will be project managed by Brixton Market Traders Federation, combining their long experience in the market with a commitment to its viable future. It's more economic to do all the barrows at once because of the costs associated with setting up the temporary workshop and employing the wheelwright and carpenter. All restored barrows will stay in use in the market and crowdfunding is great way for the community to support the traders who work incredibly hard and help them keep the market's historic character.
The traders and their barrows
The barrows do their job perfectly. They have been passed down from generation to generation and are at the centre of Brixton life, much valued and loved by the traders who wheel them in to their pitch at dawn. They help keep the market pedestrian, without the need for vans unloading stock, and are part of the colourful, historic setting which makes Electric Avenue and Atlantic Road so iconic.
Here's what the Brixton Market Traders say:
Donate to the barrows and you will be supporting a trader’s livelihood as well as preserving a part of historic London.
Let's keep the Brixton Market barrows rolling!
Here's a little piece from BBC News about the barrows:
Brixton's market barrows to be restored - Posted at 17:53 4 Apr
Brixton's barrows have been a colourful part of market life since the 19th century but these days there are few left and some of them are looking a little worse for wear.
However, with some specialist help they're now being restored, to preserve an important part of south London's heritage.
This project is supported by: