new covent garden – oral history

A Space for Flowers: The New Covent Garden Flower Market


Oral History

As part of the A Space for Flowers project Our Hut has worked with a team of volunteers to collect, transcribe and sound edit 19 oral history interviews about the flower market. The aim of the oral history programme was to find out about all aspects of the market over its 40 years and the impact of the relocation of the market from the old site in central London. Interviewees included people who work in it, or visit the market and those who were involved in its design and construction and the current planning of the new market. The interviews are archived in their entirety at the London Metropolitan Archive where they will be available for all to listen to.  Below is a selection of excerpts from the oral histories.



Alan Kirby, local resident, talks about ‘rescuing’ the plants that are being binned outside the Flower Market .

Running Time 01:26


Barry Porter, market trader, remembers the Old Covent Market as a child and talks about his family connection, nature of the product and floral art, the reasons why they moved the old market to Nine Elms and how he feels about the proposed building.
Running Time 3:04


David Donovan, market trader, describes the move over to the brand new market and seeing it empty and the helicopter crash.
Running Time 01:01


Don Whiting, market trader voices his questions and hopes for the new market.
Running Time 00:20


Paul Harper, florist at Raynes Park tube station talks about the seasonality of British flowers; the Dutch auctions and the world flower market; how he operates as a smaller customer; the community of the Flower Market; and its pubs.
Running Time 02:42


Lyn Edwards, architect at Gollins Melvin and Ward, the designers of the New Covent Garden Market, recollects working on Market Towers and the Flower Market as project architect; the design of the glowing roof; and abseiling down Market Towers to check the position of the cctv cameras.
Running Time 02:29


Pam Alexander, Chair of the Covent Garden Market Authority, discusses the design features of the current Flower Market; and how the new market that is being planned will be different to the existing market, opening it up to the public.
Running Time 02:28


Trevor Clackett, market trader, describes starting work at 16 at the Old Covent Garden Market; the Queen opening the Nine Elms market in 1976; what the new market felt like; the market league football teams; his relationship with customers; how much busier it used to be; and people in the market.
Running Time 03:12


Joanne Power, florist, describes the convenience of working out of the market as a florist and the mix of people in the market.
Running Time 0:45


Judith Blacklock, Principal of the Judith Blacklock Flower School, talks about her first impressions of the market including Porter’s Foliage; buying flowers, foliage and sundries; the market as a hub for meeting other designers; ease of parking; the lovely cafe and atmosphere.
Running Time 2:18


Saul Pattison, trader, talks about how the market is in its own separate world; bids and bartering in old money; learning the trade; working in British produce for small farmers; the buzz; his hopes seeing young people and looking forward to the future for the market.
Running Time 3:23