Trading Histories

Joan’s Story

The Rag and Tag, rotten meat, Potty Edwards.

Joan was born in 1952. She remembers visiting the Rag and Tag market as a child:

‘You weren’t buying anything but you had the opportunity to look through and browse at things…see all the pets, big sweet stall – boiled sweets on the corner, that was another popular stall with people – and things you would just go and look at like weighing scales. The lady that weighed adults on huge brass scales. And the herbalist that had a horrible skull staring at you, that used to make you run past. An old yellow skull stuck on top, urgh!

Being outside, the Rag and Tag suffered from different problems than the Castle Market:

‘Oh and they’d got stalls, if you weren’t quick enough, and it were raining, you had to watch, they would fill up with water on top and if you were leaning forward to be served you’d get water down back of your neck. And they had these gas lights, they were fantastic, gas mantle lights hanging down as well. My God I sound old!  It’s great, great atmosphere.’

She also remembers seeing some very dried out meat at a butcher’s stall:

‘The story was that it was a gentleman who’d left his meat behind and then never came back for it after he paid for it, and they had this hung up and it were black and it was hung up above your head at the back. I mean, nowadays the Health and Safety – nobody would want it hung up there would they? Full of germs and maggots. But that were a feature, that were one of the attractions!’

And the Potty Edwards’ stall:

‘That was near the entrance so immediately you went in you could hear them calling out the pots, shouting for custom and the noise of the plates and everything. The fantastic thing about it is that they would have huge washing baskets full of services, tea services, and they’d be calling out like auction fashion, and then, they would toss them to each other. And I’m sure part of the attraction was watching these and I never saw one plate broke or dropped ever and they used to fling them and catch ‘em. Just, just things like that. I mean in those days it was spectacular, you know?’