On the market: exciting plans for Chapel Market

John Papworth Chapel Market trader stood smiling at his stall with vegetables in front of him

Chapel Market has been serving the local community for more than 150 years. In early 2023, Islington Council ran a consultation with local market traders, businesses and residents to get feedback on proposals for improvements

The plans included a new space for events and pop-up stalls; new signage and floor markings; as well as new trees and plants. There will also be better facilities for traders and some changes to parking, with flexible bays for resident parking and business loading. After months of work, with the support of £998,000 from the Mayor of London’s Good Growth Fund, the council’s improvements are set to be finished this month.

Two traders, greengrocer John Papworth and Adrian Serrano of La Real Paella, tell us what they like most about working at the market and what the improvements will mean for them.

John Papworth

I’ve had a pitch at Chapel Market since October 1973. Apart from an eight-year stint in the 1980s when I left to run shops and a pub, I’ve been a trader here the whole time. The area has changed a lot since then – it was once full of thousands of houses, now it’s mainly shops and restaurants.

I think the improvements will be good for the market and traders. Hopefully it’ll encourage more visitors and once the trees have developed, it’ll look lovely too. A typical day involves leaving my house at 4am to go to Spitalfields wholesale market, where I buy produce, then back to Chapel Market by around 6am to unload, make a display and wait for the customers to arrive.

l usually stick around till about 3pm, then pack away what hasn’t sold to sell with the new goods the following day. The best thing about working here is the public. You see and serve all types of people and most of them are friendly and polite. I would encourage more people to visit the market, as it’s a great way to support local, small, and family-run businesses. I’m actually retiring this year, so I would like to say thank you to Chapel Market and the people of Islington for so many fantastic years!

Adrian Serrano

Chapel Market is an awesome place. It’s known for its vibrant atmosphere, diverse stalls and a mix of fresh produce. The market has a rich history and is a go-to spot for both locals and visitors, probably because of its blend of the traditional and modern – it really does have a unique charm. My favourite stall is Only Fools and Flowers. Dean, the stallholder, is the grandad of the market for sure! I’m a newcomer compared to many of the traders: I’ve been here a year now, selling paella, but I was working on the market for a year before that.

A typical day for me means getting here by 7.30am, grabbing my meat, fish, and veggies, setting up the stall, and chopping everything up. I throw all the good stuff on the fire, cook it up, and get ready for service. I sip on black coffee every hour! By 1.30, 2pm, I’m sold out, so it’s time to pack up and head home. love meeting new folks and there are some real characters who come to the market. I dig people, so working with them every day is my kind of vibe!

For the latest on Chapel Market, follow the Chapel Market Traders Association on Instagram @chapelmarketn1.

The Good Growth Fund is the Mayor of London’s biggest regeneration fund. Launched in June 2017, it provides £70million of capital funding from sources including the Local Growth Fund and European Social Fund, as well as expert regeneration advice, design support and knowledge-sharing opportunities.

For more information on the Good Growth Fund, visit the Mayor of London’s website.

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