End of an era - farewell to two Great Yarmouth market stalls

Mel and Jimmy Wilson.

Mel and Jimmy Wilson wanted to emphasise their gratitude and thanks to all of their customers from over the years. - Credit: James Weeds

There were tears of sadness and frustration as two traders on Great Yarmouth Market Place opened their stalls for the very last time.

Friday marked the end of an era for two of the longest-serving stallholders who decided against a move to the £4.6m market revamp due to open in 2022.

Barrie's Tea Stall and H Blake Family Butchers have been trading on the market place for decades and customers turned out in large numbers to wish them both farewell.

A gathering outside Barrie's Tea Stall.

One last time: The familiar sight of people chatting, drinking tea and eating bacon roll outside of Barrie's Tea Stall. - Credit: James Weeds

Philip Blake, owner of H Blake Family Butchers, has been on his stall for over 40 years.

The stall, which has been on the market since June 1922, was originally set up by Mr Blake's grandfather, Fred.

The business was passed on to Mr Blake's father, also called Fred, before Mr Blake inherited the business.

Mr Blake, 63, said: "Thanks to all my customers - some of them I've been serving for nearly 50 years, almost as long as I've been here.

"Thanks for all your custom."

Philip Blake

Philip Blake thanked all of his loyal customers for their support over the years. - Credit: James Weeds

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Mr Blake will be clearing his market stall after Christmas and he plans to retire.

"It's our last main day of trading and we're coming back to clear up and that will be it after 99 years," Mr Blake said.

A customer at H Blake Family Butcher

Philip Blake serving one of his last customers at H Blake Family Butchers. - Credit: James Weeds

Mel Wilson, co-owner of Barrie's Tea Stall,  said: "I feel gutted.

"It's just pure mixed emotions today.

"The people of the town have turned up to say goodbye and that's been really humbling.

"I always said this was a community hub and it speaks for itself."

Mel and Jimmy Wilson.

Mel and Jimmy Wilson wanted to emphasise their gratitude and thanks to all of their customers from over the years. - Credit: James Weeds

Barrie's Tea Stall - which was originally set up by Mrs Wilson's late father - has been serving hungry market-goers since 1950.

"I just can't thank people enough for all their support over the years," Mrs Wilson said.

"We've made some wonderful friends.

"I've had bouquets and pictures of me and my dad.

"I've shed a few tears."

Barrie's Tea Stall.

Barrie's Tea Stall has been on Great Yarmouth Market Place since 1950. - Credit: James Weeds

Mrs Wilson said she and her husband are thinking of leaving Great Yarmouth.

"I don't want to be in the town anymore - this has ripped my heart out as it is," Mrs Wilson said.

"We're selling up and having a year out to re-evaluate."

People queuing, chatting and talking outside Barrie's.

People were gathered outside Barrie's Tea Stall for the last time on Friday. - Credit: James Weeds

Barrie's co-owner Jimmy Wilson added: "We would like to give a huge thanks to the local community.

"They've always been wonderful and supported us right to the very end.

"It really is mixed emotions for us.

"We would have been happy to stay here, but the deal wasn't right.

"We have nothing but gratitude and thanks to the community and everybody who has stuck by us.

"Today is about us and our customers.

"We will never forget them."

Kevin Sewell by Barrie's.

Kevin Sewell has been a loyal customer of Barrie's Tea Stall for 30 years. - Credit: James Weeds

Customers who were out for one last time enjoying a cuppa and a bacon roll said they will miss the tea stall.

Kevin Sewell, 53, who has been coming to the stall for 30 years, said: "I'm gutted.

"I used to come down when Barrie was here.

"It has always been good.

"It's not even the tea or coffee or bacon rolls.

"It's the people who come here and you put the world to rights with.

"It's a big thing around here.

"These stalls leaving is not a good thing."

George Holmes and Steven Drew at Barrie's Tea Stall.

George Holmes (left) and Steven Drew have been coming to Barrie's Tea Stall for nearly 40 years. - Credit: James Weeds

Steven Drew, a loyal customer of nearly 40 years, said: "I think it's atrocious they’re leaving.

"I'm absolutely gutted."

The Great Yarmouth six day market from above. Photo: George Ryan

Great Yarmouth Market Place pictured in 2017. - Credit: Archant

The new market building has drawn some criticism from stallholders and their customers.

Mr Blake said: "The new building looks good from the outside. 

"But inside, it's not fit for the purpose for what we all need.

"If it was fit for everybody, everyone would be going in.

"The council has messed up completely."

Customer Mr Sewell said: "It's a shame the council have strangled traders out of the market.

"The new build's not going to change clientele or the parking situation.

"It won't be the same without the traditional stalls.

"It's not right."

A redevelopment of Great Yarmouth's historic Market Place is a key part of the borough council's vis

A redevelopment of Great Yarmouth's historic Market Place is a key part of the borough council's vision to regenerate the town centre Picture: GYBC - Credit: Archant

Customer George Holmes said: "It's sad Barrie's and Blake's are going.

"But the saddest thing is the council don't seem to care.

"A lot of tradition has been swept aside.

"And the council try and recreate it but it's gone.

"It's atrocious the way stallholders have been treated."

Comment from the council

A spokesperson from Great Yarmouth Borough Council said: “We are sad to see these traders go and we wish them all the best for the future, as we do the vast majority of stallholders who are moving with us to the new market.

“The current market structures are nearly 30 years old and coming to the end of their life.

"In their place, the new covered market will provide a more welcoming, more spacious, cleaner, and greener environment for residents and visitors to meet, shop, eat and drink.

”We are working with continuing stallholders to make the transfer to the new market as easy as possible, including offering long-term leases, interest-free loans, and two months' free rent.”