A market place since the 1890s


Upper Gardner Street has been used as a market-place since the 1890s. In both Gardner Street and Bond Street, Victorian barrow-boys and traders gathered to sell their wares. Early this century, however, the market was still unoffical and police continually moved the traders on. In the 1920s, Harry Cowley, a chimney sweep and worker’s rights activist known as the “guvnor”, fought for regular pitches for the traders. The Authorities finally gave way to pressure and made Upper Gardner Street an official Saturday morning market.

Comments about this page

  • We used to call Upper Gardener Street the flea market in the fifties. If you had a bit of money you could stroll around looking for the bargains to be had. I think that strolling is stretching it a bit, as it was so crowded you could be carried along by the crowd if you were not careful. It was a lovely place to be on Saturday morning.

    By Mick Peirson (23/11/2006)
  • My granddad had a fruit and veg stall at the market for years, he was a bit of a lad and a good mate of Harry Cowley. My dad, Fred Hall, worked there on Saturdays and was also a bookies runner. Does anyone remember the Violet Kay murder of a local prostitute? Granddad was paid sixpence to collect the trunk   with his horse and cart from Brighton station with her body in it, there was a stain which he was told was boot polish, leaking out of it. Dad told me the story when I was little.

    By Val Harber (02/09/2007)
  • I remember Harry Cowley. During the early 1950s he was an occasional customer at our pub the White Hart in York Hill.

    By Barrie Searle (06/03/2011)
  • Totally agree with you with you, Mick. It WAS a lovely place to be. No comparison to today. As a youngster I loved it and would still love it if it were the same 60 years later.

    By Brian (29/01/2017)
  • Brian, as this is a history site it would be useful if you could outline just how you consider that the market (which my mum always called ‘The Old Clothes Market’) has changed and what are the elements that you think are making it less ‘lovely’.

    By Geoffrey Mead (31/01/2017)

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