Well I am not an Essex girl. I was born and bred in London, both north and east of the river Thames. I have, like many Londoners, moved out a little. I now live in an outer London borough which has an Essex postcode. I live a short drive, or a fairly short bus ride away from Romford, Essex. I have heard it referred to as the East End but I would strongly disagree with this. As a London child Essex was thought of as the countryside!
I spend many a weekend at Romford, mainly for its shopping and sometimes for the entertainment.
Romford’s famous market began over seven hundred and fifty years ago as a sheep market.
Here is a little of its history taken from http://www.havering.gov.uk/
"It's strange to think that Romford market once depended on the stamina of sheep. But in the 13th century, the distance they could walk in a day was a crucial factor in deciding whether Romford was entitled to hold a market.
Therefore two leagues, or six miles, were reckoned to be the maximum distance of a one-day sheep drive. Since there was no other market within that distance, King Henry III (1242-1247) granted Romford permission to hold one every Wednesday as an outlet for the Hornchurch leather trade.
That six-mile marker remains the minimum distance between markets. It is the legal bedrock on which Romford has successfully fought off the setting up of other markets.
A Tuesday market was established by 1633, and a Monday market around the late 18th century, but this was doomed to failure and discontinued shortly before 1816. A similar fate fell to the Tuesday market in the 19th century.
In a spirit of optimism perhaps engendered by the end of the Great War, traders tried a daily market in 1919, but this idea was dropped in 1925, leaving the three markets that we know today."
The Market Today
"Come and get yer tomatoes 'ere! Two boxes only a pound!"
Recently there have been improvements made to the paving, drainage and lighting by Havering council, home to the market.
It isn't a huge market in length and appearance, but the design means there is room for more market stalls than it at first it seems. There are at least 250 market stalls here on a full market day.
There is a lot of choice available here. Mainly the stalls offer wares of the fruit and veg variety, and many clothing stalls are sited here too. There is a stall selling meat and a fishmonger's stall. Also can be found stalls selling music CDs and those selling computer games. Toys galore can be found and let's not forget the books! Stalls selling foam for cushions and refurbishing sofas, curtains and haberdashery, and those selling computer inks at a great price. It's all here.
The usual market is to be found in Market Place on a Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. It is open for longer in the lead up to Christmas, and there is a market of sorts on some bank holidays.
This is an ideal place for a market with good transport links with the rail station close buy. A huge choice of buses is available, coming and going to destinations such as Ilford, Stratford and further out into Essex.
There are many food outlets within the market; both by way of its food stalls serving burger and hot dogs, a Chines noodle stall, and donuts and seafood is available. Edging the market are cafes restaurants, pie and mash shops, bakeries and chains such as Subway, Wimpy and Macdonald’s, Greg’s and so much more. And there are at least two public houses along the market which serve food as well as drink.
Public Conveniences can be found. Tollgate House at the end of the market place quite recently installed toilets which includes disabled facilities. It is easy to find lavatories here as the indoor market houses them as does many of the stores edging the market such as Debenhams and T.J. Hughes.
Romford Shopping Hall
This is a bit different. Right by the market;seeming truly integrated but warmer in winter, being enclosed. It too has been refurbished and modernised recently. Escalators and a lift have been installed. This indoor market houses more interesting shops and stalls selling some foreign and exotic wares such as and things just that little bit different. A stall selling both new and second-hand books, where books can be sold back to the stall holder, a fancy dress shop and various gift shops, make-up and hair care stalls. There is a haberdashery outlet for sewing and dressmaking enthusiasts. I have bought many items from this stall when I have been making costumes for my daughters and I’m always pleased with the cheap prices here. There are card and jewellery stores and much, much more, for the enthusiastic shopper like myself
I find the market a particularly pleasant place to visit around St Georges Day. Although many areas let this date be forgotten the market is decorated with flags and is awash with white and red bunting.
On the days when there isn't a market parking is available parking bays along Market Place, home of the market can be used, at a charge. There are also disabled spaces available.
If you come here for the market then you will find many car parks within easy walking distance of the market, both outdoor and multi storey.
And if the market isn't enough for you and you can still carry some more shopping then there are lots of shops and shopping malls close by. The brewery offers stores such as The Range, Boots the Chemist, Gap, Sainsbury's and more. As well as having these stores it is also an entertainment centre with a bowling alley, multi screen cinema and restaurants.