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East Ham Market Hall traders still serving in spite of demolition next door

PUBLISHED: 18:22 27 June 2019

Abdul has run KSM Soft Furnishing since 2003. Picture: JON KING

Abdul has run KSM Soft Furnishing since 2003. Picture: JON KING

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The last remaining traders at an historic market which is gradually being demolished have declared they are still up for business.

Salma's Salon where a cut and blow dry starts at £15. Picture: JON KINGSalma's Salon where a cut and blow dry starts at £15. Picture: JON KING

Shopkeepers at East Ham Market Hall's final outpost in Kina House, Pilgrims Way, want customers to know that in spite of the bulldozers moving onto the main site next door, their doors are firmly open.

Ibrahim Patel, who has run East Ham Fashion Watches since 1998, said: "I have loyal customers. I want to keep going here until my last breath."

Michelle Fitzgibbons described the market's traders as being like a family. Picture: JON KINGMichelle Fitzgibbons described the market's traders as being like a family. Picture: JON KING

In all 11 businesses still operate but trade has dropped off a bit with people seeing the diggers next door and thinking the market has gone completely.

But as Michelle Fitzgibbons of Land Management which runs the market explained, shopkeepers are still keen to serve.

Bryan Munday, 74, has been going to the market since he was two. Picture: JON KINGBryan Munday, 74, has been going to the market since he was two. Picture: JON KING

"It's gone quite quiet," Michelle said. "But we are still here and still trading for a good while yet. [Store holders] still have to put food on the table."

Eighteen businesses found new premises before work began on 277 flats at the neighbouring two acre site off High Street North.

Ibrahim Patel of East Ham Fashion Watches said he wanted to stay until his last breath. Picture: JON KINGIbrahim Patel of East Ham Fashion Watches said he wanted to stay until his last breath. Picture: JON KING

Land Management is busy trying to find alternatives for those at Kina House which will need to move eventually.

But until then the market's traders will carry on selling a range of products including rugs, carpets, watches, lighters and computer parts. Besides offering services such as a cut and blow dry starting at £15 from Salma's Salon.

Naseem Walimohamed said: Naseem Walimohamed said: "We do not want this cafe to shut down." Picture: JON KING

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Bryan Munday first came to the market with his parents at the age of two. He's now 74.

Mahesh Salvi works at Exigra Computer Services, one of the longest-running businesses at the market. Picture: JON KINGMahesh Salvi works at Exigra Computer Services, one of the longest-running businesses at the market. Picture: JON KING

"It's a lovely market, but we need customers and to make sure people know we're still here," Bryan said.

Naseem Walimohamed has loved running the Coffera café, where an English breakfast costs a fiver, from the hall.

Michelle Fitzgibbons outside Kina House. Picture: JON KINGMichelle Fitzgibbons outside Kina House. Picture: JON KING

"It's not as hectic as the High Street here. There's a relaxed atmosphere. I would like this place to last forever. We want to prosper," Naseem said.

"There's a really nice atmosphere here. It's like a little family," Michelle added.

Naseem Walimohamed runs Coffera cafe. Picture: JON KINGNaseem Walimohamed runs Coffera cafe. Picture: JON KING

Yatin Patel, who runs Zen Smoking Accessories, has also seen a drop in trade even though he sells hundreds of original products at prices he says are unbeatable.

But the market, which started in 1922, is more than just a treasure trove of products. There's a wealth of memories here.

Mahesh Salvi behind the counter of Exigra Computer Services. Picture: JON KINGMahesh Salvi behind the counter of Exigra Computer Services. Picture: JON KING

Loyal customer, Kerry Knubley, said: "It's been here all my life. It's something like an anchor.

"Very few of my family are left here. It's comforting to have something left."

Abdul has run KSM Soft Furnishing since 2003. Picture: JON KINGAbdul has run KSM Soft Furnishing since 2003. Picture: JON KING

On July 6 children can get their faces painted at the market for free between 11am and 3pm.

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