What was the reason behind this new venture from the original Roman Road Market?
There is very little public realm in Roman Road, places that people can meet and hang out. We wanted to create a space that would become a meeting place as well as a market. We also wanted to do something on this junction, which connects the Market end with the rest of Roman Road to integrate both flavours and encourage people to flow down both ends of the road.
What would you like the community to gain from having the new Roman Road Yard Market?
A community space and increased footfall. We want to attract more local residents as well as new destination visitors to come to the high street and use the local shops and services. We also want to provide social and leisure space, something we think is missing on the Roman Road.
Roman Road as an area has changed a lot recently – what do you think is the cause behind this?
Believe it or not, Bow didn’t change much at all until after the Olympics. It’s all really happened in the last five years. The rest of East London got very trendy and then the developers realised Bow had been overlooked and they all swooped in. This has brought in lots of new people, which is great, but has also meant the loss of industrial land and community spaces, which is worrying for the long term health of the community. Our role at the Roman Road Trust is to support ‘mindful’ development that keeps community at the heart of regeneration.
Do you have a favourite part of the new Roman Road Yard Market?
Yes! The music. We have a great vintage vinyl stall holder, NLR Vinyl, who is in charge of our playlist. I open up the market myself in the mornings and can’t wait to slam on the tunes. It brings the place alive, gets the traders dancing along, and brings a smile to everyone’s faces.
Who is the main clientele you get at Roman Road Yard Market?
Parents in the morning! We have the space for buggies and somewhere for parents to sit down and eat in a safe, contained place. Then we also get a lot of young professionals rocking up for brunch or lunch to enjoy our hot food and chilled out tunes. We have regular street food traders including Argentinian inspired High Steaks, Malaysian dishes from local cook Hui’s Kitchen, and gooey gorgeousness from The Cheese Truck.
What would you recommend for people attending for the first time?
Geo-Fleur who sells cacti in concrete pots. She’s going to be big and already making news in Stylist. Very desirable and cool products. Also our Vintage traders are shaping up nicely too. There’s someone who specialises in vintage vinyl, another in vintage Burberrys, someone else doing outlandish festival vintage clothing and a growing number of flea-market stalls.
What is your history with East End London? Are you a local?
I moved to Bow 18 years ago in the late 1990s. I wanted to settle down somewhere and looked at lots of places around East London. I loved Bow the most because it had a great sense of community and a really long and busy high street. I loved the community life that high streets offer.
Where do you see Roman Road Yard Market heading this year?
I want to see Roman Road Yard Market being used by a range of community groups. We’ve campaigned to use this area so that we can give a space to the community and we want all groups out there to feel they can use it as their own. We had a local incubator use it last week to showcase up and coming local designers. It was great to help startups on their journey and hopefully they’ll do well enough to rent a stall regularly and eventually a shop on Roman Road.
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