Sod unpacking the van from yesterday's vintage fair, a stroll into town to pick up Jon's new glasses and a rummage around the charity shops sounded far more appealing.
After Saturday's snow, the temperature had warmed up a few degrees so I swapped my coat for my beloved velvet jacket and a Dollyrockers corset waist maxi dress printed with supersized paisleys, found by our friends, Lynn & Philip, on a trip to an antique centre on a recent holiday in the Lake District. I was a bit hasty, it was still bastard freezing!
We walk past this fifteenth century archway, which lies beneath the crypt of St Matthew's Parish Church, every time we walk into town but, as with most things that become part of our daily lives, we rarely give it a glance so today I thought I'd stop and share it with you.
New specs collected and Jon's normal pair left to be reglazed with his new prescription, we'd exhausted Walsall's four remaining chazzas in less than twenty minutes. Some people complain that their high streets are full of charity shops, they should think themselves lucky. Our main shopping street has that many boarded up & empty shops we'd be thrilled with a few more chazzas - anything's better than dereliction.
Instead we had a wander round the market. There's been a town market since 1219 but permission to run a weekly one was granted to William Rufus, the Lord of the manor of Walsall in 1417. In 1818 it was said to be the second largest market in the country dealing with around 2000 pigs a day.
This is how it looked in the early 1970s when we were kids - in fact I wouldn't be surprised if Jon or me are somewhere in this photo. Everyone visited Walsall market on a Saturday. The market extended from just beneath the church steps way down to local heroine, Sister Dora's statue on The Bridge. There wasn't anything you couldn't get from the market - clothes, shoes, fruit & veg., skinned rabbits and pheasants, toys, tools, fresh fish, books, costume jewellery, make-up, kitchenware & soft furnishings, substandard china from the factories up the road in The Potteries to fabric, key cutting and watch engraving. Special coaches would bringing shoppers in from all over the country and the whole thing had a festival air with traders yelling out their wares and indulging in friendly banter with the crowds.
These days, with a twenty-four hour supermarket dominating the area to the left of the old photo, the market is a shadow of its former self. Asda offers almost everything the market used to, why stand in the cold when you can park up, pile your trolley high with everything from carrots, chicken and beer to buckets, cushions, knickers and wrap dresses. The market might be cheaper but what's cheap when compared to convenience? I think we're in the minority, still buying all our fruit & veg from the market, indulging in Carry On type humour over the size of cucumbers and staggering back home over Church Hill aka The Hill Of Doom, wondering if we really needed three caulis for a quid.
Fortunately Asda doesn't sell everything. Monday's market is the day for Asian fabric, trimmings and ready-mades and there's an air of excitement as the predominantly female crowd rummage through bolts of £1 per metre chiffon, luridly printed polyesters and a veritable rainbow of crushed velvet.
As we examine cards wrapped in yards of cheerful pom-pom braid, ribbons embossed with sequins and dotted with paisleys, we chat about what we're planning to do with our purchases - trimming a dupatta or a salwar kameez, embellishing a tunic or, in my case, tarting up a patchwork lampshade or a cushion cover.
The ready-made stalls are a sight to behold. The rest of the week the traditional clothing stalls are a drab mass of jumpers, cardigans and pleated skirts with elasticated waists in every shade of grey acrylic. On a Monday it's a rich tapestry of velvet in luscious jewel-like colours, gossamer thin tunics with vibrant embroidered panels and metallic stitched details, glinting in the pale late November sunshine.
Much as I love those knee length velvet tunics with soutache embroidery the style isn't something I'd wear. However I did spot something rather special (and very me) on one of the display mannequins.
This soutache adorned black velvet jacket from Pakistan came as part of a suit but with a bit of friendly persuasion the stallholder was kind enough to split the set and sell me the jacket separately. Wouldn't get that in bloody Asda, would you?
Check out my bejewelled bangle and coral ring, a very generous gift from Mel, a lovely fellow trader at yesterday's Moseley Vintage & Retro Fair. Vintage traders are amazing as are our visitors, customers and organisers. I'm going to miss the scene enormously over the next few months!
Right, less of the chat. I'd better go and unpack the van. See you soon!
Sharing with Patti & The Gang for Visible Monday and Style Crone's Judith for Hat Attack#53
Right, less of the chat. I'd better go and unpack the van. See you soon!
Sharing with Patti & The Gang for Visible Monday and Style Crone's Judith for Hat Attack#53
Love that jacket you bought and the jewellery your friend gave you - lucky lady! You had snow - fortunately ours is long melted and we have just had rain rain rain for the last few weeks. It did break enough yesterday though to take Buddy for a walkReplyDelete
I am very lucky, aren't I?Delete
Our snow didn't hang around for long, thank goodness. It's been bitterly cold this week with it apparently getting worse tomorrow. Makes staying in and doing the decorating almost an attractive prospect! xxx
It's a crying shame how market towns have generally gone downhill. I was most upset last week on a trip to my hometown Abergavenny that they're building a monstrosity of a Morrisons slap in the middle. Not long until boarded up shops follow suit, I fear. That archway is something special, I'm glad you shared it. Best pop a coat on though!! XxReplyDelete
Oh no, Abergavenny is gorgeous, the last thing it needs is a breeze block supermarket.Delete
I love shopping off the market, I know it's a pain having to carry it all back home, paying by cash and being outside in the cold but there's nothing like the experience. Supermarket shopping is so soulless. xxx
I haven't been into walsall for ages , When we lived in wednesbury it felt like a day trip going to walsall on a saturday in the 70s lol , Is that crushed velvet £1.00 per meter too , Mind you velvet is hard to sew isnt it xxxReplyDelete
I wouldn't bother, it's gone even further downhill in the last year or so. Yet more gambling joints, fast food outlets and cheap shops. It's so depressing.Delete
I think the velvet is £4.99 a metre. It's not too bad to sew with although the fluff gets everywhere! x
Your walk into town is lovely, it's a beautiful archway.ReplyDelete
I love wandering round the market here in Cambridge too. That's such a fab jacket you found, soutache embroidery is gorgeous.
I love the Paisley print you're wearing too.
No snow here yet, it's horrible and wet today though. xxx
It is, isn't it? There's so much of old Walsall that's mysteriously burnt down in recent years I really need to record all the nice bits before they're lost forever.Delete
Its been very dull here today and sooo cold! xxx
Back in the late 50's Walsall market used to also go off down a side alley and run down to the Dirty Duck - (passed where Debenhams and Spud-U-Like is now)- it was all built up down there with old shops and properties, you're right, it was a proper market in those days xxReplyDelete
Hello Trudie! Did it really? I remember Grey's as a child, Jon's mum used to work in the Sainsbury's just below it. It was a wonderful market up until fifteen years ago, I'm so sad at the state of Walsall these days. xxxDelete
It’s bloody freezing here as well. I look two sizes bigger I’ve got that many layers on.ReplyDelete
The dress looks fabulous with your velvet jacket.
The market in Rochdale was buzzing when I was growing up but now there’s nothing left of it. M&S has pulled out of the multi million new complex being built so that will kill off rochdale as a shopping centre. Mind you we prefer todmorden anyway. Xxx
It's getting worse! I've dug out Mum's old hippy coat, it's too big and very grubby but it'll keep me toasty!Delete
I'm amazed Walsall's still got got a Debenhams and Marks & Spencer, once they've gone we'll have nothing but pound shops and fried chicken shops! xxx
Your country has the most colorful traditions - this market looks like a magical way to spend an afternoon. And you look fab (sorry about the cold!) as always. xoxReplyDelete
We're trying to hang on to those traditions, Patti - they're rapidly declining! xxxDelete
There was a market in the city where I grew up but it moved indoors to a less convenient location a decade ago and slowly died off. My sister hated it ("ewww all those people") but I adored it. If I lived by you I'd blow all my money buying fabric and trims! That jacket is so beautiful and no, you won't see that in Asada!ReplyDelete
I think that's whats gradually happening to ours, it's been moved so it doesn't interfere with Asda (aka Walmart). I love the hustle and bustle of markets, I actively seek them out wherever we go. I even found a crazy food market in Venice, all fish guts and atmosphere! xxxDelete
It's such a shame how market towns have gone so downhill, although I have to say I'm quite proud of mine as they're regularly actively protesting against various supermarkets that have tried to build so although the town has shrunk considerably most of it's still locally owned businesses. Love how you've described it all, and that Dollyrockers maxi is fab!ReplyDelete
That's good to hear that your townspeople are fighting to keep the market. The trouble is with our lot is that they're great at being armchair warriors, moaning about the decline of the market on social media but do sod all about it, use it or lose it, people!Delete
This could be my favourite Dollyrockers frock! xxx
you look fabulous - standing in the ancient door way in your dolly rocker maxi, velvet jacket, cool hat and silver boots!!!ReplyDelete
back in berlin i used to go to the so called "turkish market" - the walsall one looks like a twin. i really miss sorting thru the fabric stalls, buying zippers that smell like curry (got carried in the same oversee container i guess), chatting with the veggie dealers and finding a pretty tunic for summer or some harem pants for homewear.......
but nothing was so gorgeous as your new golden trimmed jacket - swooooon!
p.s.: beautiful jewels!
Yes! The trimmings on the stall smell like they've come straight from India, spices and incense. makes everything more attractive.Delete
I've bought some black metallic frog fasteners (off the market) so I can fasten the jacket against the cold. It's my next task! xxx
I'm loving your Dollyrockers maxi and your new jacket from the market is definitely you. It's such a shame that a lot of town centres (here in Belgium too!) seem to be in decline and it's sad when so many shops are boarded up. Our village doesn't really have a market tradition, in fact they only started weekly markets long after I left home. It's not much of a market either and last time I went there were even fewer stalls than before. One of our neighbouring towns has a thriving market, though, and there's a fabulous market full of exotic stalls in Antwerp on Saturdays. So much more fun than any supermarket, I agree! xxxReplyDelete
I do love a market. Years ago our town's pubs had a market licence which meant that you could go and get a pint at 4.30am when the market was setting up. Very handy if you'd been out all night and just got off the night bus from Birmingham! xxxDelete
I love a good market and all the trader banter. Three caulis for a quid...bloody marvellous, much cheaper than even Aldi. How I wish I could pop down to your trimmings stall, I'm refurbing my Lloyd Loom ottoman and need some braid for the upholstered lid. Fab choice of outfit today but maybe wear thermals underneath next time. xxxReplyDelete
I know - if we've have to get any emergency fruit & veg from Lidl I'm disappointed with how much more quickly it goes off than the market stuff, too. Not good!Delete
I will wear thermals (and gloves) next time, don't know what possessed me! xxx
PS Have you heard about new French drama, BBC4 Saturday 'Witnesses'ReplyDelete
Watched it last night - thanks!! Wasn't it gripping? xxxDelete
The Asian fabrics are glorious aren't they. A real hit of colour on a cold day. Think I would spend a fortune on trimmings! My sister used to live in Reading and I loved seeing all the bolts of fabric. I made my cloakroom blind from one of the sari fabrics they sold. ArilxReplyDelete
I've had to reign myself in and only buy if I've a project in mind, I was getting a stash bigger than the market stallholder's stockroom! xxxDelete
That is a beautiful jacket you snapped up! I love that brown velvet jacket of yours with the massive sleeves.ReplyDelete
God bless street markets everywhere and long may they reign!
I love that arch too.
Isn't it lovely. Beats the wolf fleeces they sell the rest of the week! xxxDelete
yes, get back to work. It's just spent 3 hours in the fabric room at work. Now all the rolled fabric is separated by color. Maybe the students will be able to put fabric back now. Well, I can dream.ReplyDelete
Get you, all colour coordinated! That's three hours well spent! xDelete
Drooling over that jacket!ReplyDelete
It's a beauty! xDelete
I do like that archway! The Pakistan jacket is beautiful and totally you! I am very glad he was able to split up the duo! Romford market used to be huge when I was young- as a teen, we would often go and look there. Nowadays, there are so many shops that it is, like yours, a shadow of its former self. It is sad.xReplyDelete
It is a lovely doorway what you stop and look at it, it's mad to think it's been there for six centuries, isn't it?Delete
I'm so glad he split the set up, I couldn't see myself in a grey tunic with narrow trousers! xxx
The sheer age of everything in the UK just boggles me, where something old here is 100 years old or even less. Thank you for sharing this little bit of your local history. Hooray for Mondays, the day of shiny fabrics and velvet! Boo for bland grey!ReplyDelete
Love your velvet jacket (SLEEVES), and that one you purchased is gorgeous. Wow.
We're so ambivalent towards old stuff here but we've fast enough to complain when it's gone.Delete
Just seeing all those sparkly bits and sumptuous colour make me happy - and remind me that our trip to India isn't too far way.xxx
I did a little shopping Saturday and which is our small business. and I did a little today on cybrus monday.ReplyDelete
Coffee is on
Always good to support small businesses!Delete
The market sounds amazing - I would love to spend a Monday enjoying all of the beautiful fabrics and treasures. Your new black jacket is so cool! The sleeves on your brown one are pretty spectacular, too.ReplyDelete
It is fascinating, I could spend a fortune on pretty sparkly things so have to limit my spending!! xxxDelete
That was such a fun outing Viv. I,adore your black velvet jacket. You are magic the way you find things. XxxReplyDelete
Glad you enjoyed it, Sally! xxxDelete
That's interesting. Farmer's markets & flea markets sort of wax and wain in popularity (and poshness) in the US too. Supposedly there's an organic one in Kathmandu but I've never been. Fabric stores in the US are really awful - overpriced poor quality stuff. I'm spoiled for choice in India!ReplyDelete
I know, the fabric in India is amazing - Walsall's always had a big Indian population so we've always had loads of sari shops and great fabric. xxxDelete
We're also in the minority, still buying almost everything we eat in the market. Sorry that city markets are less frequented nowadays! I love them and yours looks wonderfully assorted!. Love all the trimmings, pom poms and shiny fabrics!, love that you share these things with us! and love how fabulous you look in your big paisley print and stunning sleeves!, You Rock Totally!ReplyDelete
And that jacket is a beauty!
Oh yes, you've blogged about shopping on the market, too. I remember admiring those incredible pyramids of fruit & veg. There's often some good African waxed cotton on the fabric stalls which I swoon over! xxxDelete
That Dollyrockers dresses is ace - such impressive paisleys.ReplyDelete
I like to shop small/local too. Sometimes I end up paying more than I would online or in a supermarket (eg card shops, ironmongers, butcher, bookshop, café) but I'd rather do it to keep the high street lively. And they're more likely to pay their taxes than the big chains. And markets or small shops are more likely to have unique things, rather than the same old same old in the big shops.
Aren't they fantastic? Definitely paisleys on steroids!Delete
I love shopping local, being small traders ourselves its all about sharing the love and being supportive and it's a lot more fun, too! xxx
I would be in heaven shopping those beautiful fabrics and trims.ReplyDelete
Love the archway backdrop, that super cool large scale paisley maxi and both your velvet jackets. You still manage to look fabulous even in the chilly weather!
Thanks, Theresa! Those trimmings get me so excited, I want to buy them all. xxxDelete
I used to love the shoe stall at the top of the market, with the cardboard floor mats. that seems a very long time ago !ReplyDelete
Yes!! I remember that one. Mum used to spend hours on there!Delete
I always loved Walsall market, I remember it as in your old photo, going right up the hill. I remember lots of crockery being sold, and even a few years ago there was a great book stall. It is but a shadow of its former self, like a lot of markets I suppose.ReplyDelete
The crockery stall was fantastic, the man who ran it was really grumpy and eventually became the town major. Mum & Grandma never left without something off there. they loved a rummage as much as I do. xxxDelete
What a great post! I adore reading your "journalistic" posts - about everyday life, the history of your town (or other places), people you meet... Great shots too! And how beautiful the old church is. Your outfit was just perfect for standing in the arch there. :) And how beautiful your new Pakistani jacket is - can't wait to see how you style it! <3ReplyDelete
Thanks, Natalia. I was fortunate in that I'd remembered my camera when we popped into town on Monday. I love how the ladies all start chatting about their projects and what they're planning to do with their purchases, something you rarely see in conventional shops. xxxDelete
Yes the jacket is very you. I also think those tunics are gorgeous, you don't see them often round these parts. Thanks for including the arch = lovely. xxReplyDelete
Those tunics are lovely, the more I look at them the more I like them! xxxDelete
What a beautiful jacket.I love your patois of the archway. It looks like a fab place for a walk although in your photos it looks Baltic. That is a shame about the market being in decline. I think that a lot of city centres are really suffering due to big out of town developments. The planners should have a word with themselves but I suppose that money talks loudest. Love those velvet tunics and your gorgeous jacket. All those cheap fabrics and trims would be my downfall. They are gorgeous though. XxReplyDelete
Those out of town developments make me so cross, sucking the lifeblood out of our towns and making it almost impossible to shop without a car. Grrr!Delete
You'd love the trimmings stall, I can feel my pulse racing everytime I walk past. Not saying I spend too long on that stall but the stallholder's even become my friend on Facebook! xxx
What an elegant outfit, I love the paisley maxi dress. The market looks like a really fun place to shop and that jacket is a fabulous find!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Ceri! Lovely to hear from you! xDelete
We have a very small outdoor market here on Saturday mornings in the summer and early fall, but nothing like what you describe here. I would much rather have the personal connection with the vendors and friendly chats while buying fruits and veggies, and I would love to browse the trims and fabrics at your market. Of course that beautiful jacket caught your eye!ReplyDelete
Market shopping is a bit like charity shopping, it's unique and offers the personal touch. I love it! xxxDelete
The archway is beautiful, it's sad how often we forgot to look and see what's right in front on us.ReplyDelete
You don't need three caulis, they're heavy!
Monday seems to eb the day to visit the market, all that colour! Delightful!