Luton's Markets and Fairs

Talk to the Society on 24 June 2014

By John Newbury

It was a pleasure to be able to share some of my research with the Society. The opportunity helped sharpen my focus on the early days and the ensuing thousand years. Stories of watered ale, overcharging and giving short weight. How things have changed, have they?

The domestic production of plait, the market’s growth and the burgeoning hat industry leading Luton from a small market town to one with increasing industrial focus.

Photo:Market Hill, Luton, c.1900

Market Hill, Luton, c.1900

Internet images

My interest had started when I married into the Francis family - a family of fishmongers plying the streets with horse and cart, working the market on Market Hill and from 1926 in the covered market.

In the late 1930s Arthur, my father-in-law, started an additional stall on the forecourt of The George in Harpenden High Street.

Photo:The fishmongers at 4a Station Road changed hands several times, until it became a Barber's shop. Jennings were there in the 1970s

The fishmongers at 4a Station Road changed hands several times, until it became a Barber's shop. Jennings were there in the 1970s

LHS archives - LHS 012448, EM 65/30

Subsequently a small shop was built at 4a Station Road in a rear access of the chemist at no. 4. This went under the name of Francis until the 1980s when we ceased trading. Initially another fishmonger took over the shop but now it is a barbers.

I worked very briefly in the old Luton Market and for about ten years in the new, coming to Harpenden as a holiday stand-in on a Thursday. I bought fish for shop and stall in that more famous market, Billingsgate.

Two significant deaths brought me into fishmongering, from schoolteacher to fishmonger, maybe a strange move but one that I thoroughly enjoyed. Odours and all.

Now I’m back to teaching.

This page was added by Rosemary Ross on 10/02/2015.

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