Page 17 - MarketTimesApril2020
P. 17

  A market started eight years ago by a professional photographer with no experience of running one has been hailed as south east London’s answer to Borough Market — held on a car park in Lewisham. Nicola Gould visits the weekly Saturday market
It all began one Saturday in 2011 when professional photographer Toby Allen walked past Lewisham College car park in Brockley and noticed it was empty on weekends.
“I just thought it would be a wonderful place to hold a food market,” he said.
Often flashes of inspiration lead nowhere, but this time Toby approached the college, then Lewisham Council, and succeeded in selling them his vision of a community fine food market.
Toby lives a stone’s throw away and had worked for a film trade magazine and as a picture editor before moving into professional photography. He had no experience of standing or running a market but was a passionate foodie with friends who shared that passion including one who was running his own coffee rotisserie.
“My idea was all about the quality and provenance of the food,” Toby said. “Brockley didn’t really have anywhere
where you could buy that quality — no independent delis or things like that,” he said.
Toby shied away from the idea of a farmers’ market because of the strict rules that would have ruled out some of the flagship businesses now trading on the market.
He also believes he has succeeded in getting the right balance between hot food and produce.
There are just eight top-quality hot food businesses on the market lining the bottom end, with tables and stools nearby, and the produce and food stalls occupy the main area of the car park.
Toby said: “It is all about the quality of the food and fresh produce and the ethos of the traders. Most have been with us from the early days and it feels very much like family with both the traders and the shoppers. I have seen local families who had babies in push chairs when they first
visited the market now shopping with young children who are growing up enjoying the Saturday weekly market shop.”
Establishing Brockley market went surprisingly smoothly. Toby initially approached Lewisham College who were sympathetic to his ideas.
They agreed to rent him the car park and the council agreed to give him a temporary licence which meant he could hold 12 markets each calendar year.
“The market launched on September 11th and I had 17 traders,” Toby said. He had found them by word of mouth and by visiting other markets. Although the market now has a vibrant social media presence with 25,000 followers on Twitter and a similar number on Instagram, social media was less of a thing at that time and Toby relied on flyers to publicise the new venture.
The week before the first market, he was wondering why he had ever thought his

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