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Good natured banter from the market stall

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: April 08, 2014

Vegetable Market at Stone Street, Dudley, circa 1905

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MARKETS have been around for millennia. The Ancient Greeks called them 'Agora', the Romans had their 'Forum', and the good old Anglo Saxons used the Old English term 'Port'' to describe the commercial centre of their towns and villages.

The concept of the market town originated in the medieval period, a time when the majority of the population earned their crust through agriculture and livestock farming, living and working in the same area. The English monarchy created a system by which a new market town could not be established within a certain travelling distance of an existing one, usually a day's worth of travelling to and from the market, and buying and selling goods.

In the Black Country markets were established as early as 1219 in Walsall, and 1220 in Halesowen. Wolverhampton was granted a market in 1258 and Bilston during the reign of Edward III. Stourbridge became a market town in 1482 and Wednesbury in 1709, and the first evidence of a market in Willenhall was mentioned in the population census of 1851. Because the majority of the area's major centres of population were borne out of the industrial era, ancient markets are few and far between, but at least Walsall, Halesowen and Wolverhampton carry the flag in this regard.

And it's the market, food and diets that the Black Country Memories Club will be talking about as they set out their stall in the Town Hall on Wednesday April 30, starting at 12 noon. Gerald Hanrahan will be waxing lyrical about Bilston Market, and Billy Howe will heckle his very best to describe the history of Wolverhampton Market.

Gerald Hanrahan, on behalf of the B.C.M.C. would like to invite members and visitors alike to share stories, anecdotes, memories and photographs in a celebration of the great Black Country market and the many characters who used to hold court on the stalls. Do you recall the Lino chap on Bilston Market, and did you buy delicacies such as pig's feet, brains, and what about chitlins?

There will be a cup of tea or coffee available, and a dish of grey paes, bacon bits and bread pudding to add flavour to the event. Non members pay £1 at the door, and ex-market traders will be given free entry.

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