THE banter and cheeky selling style of North Yorkshire’s market traders of old are remembered in an internet photgraph exhibition created by a former University of York student.
The techniques of traders who once attracted huge crowds in York’s Newgate Market are now available to view online in a film called Life’s A Pitch! And Then You’d Buy, by Dr Colin Clark, who captured the colourful characters as part of a research project throughout the late eighties and early nineties.
He said: “It must have been in 1984 when I was working as a junior or doing my Phd in the sociology department. I remember there used to be this guy on Newgate market who used to gather a big crowd around and give all the sales spiel and we videoed him. They were phenomenal market traders.
“They were just brilliant sales people. We tried to study them because we thought they were a dying breed of working-class entrepreneur. A lot of them made a good living out of it.
“We also have some pictures of a guy who used to sell bacon joints in Selby. That was right in the middle of the miners’ strike in 1985.”
After capturing the region’s market place characters, Dr Clark’s interest took him further afield, capturing footage throughout the UK and eventually in the United States.
He said: “In 1984, when we commenced our research project, pitchers could be found on almost every British market. During 2011-12, though, when we revisited many of the markets from our original study, we found that pitching – with its roots going back well before medieval times – had all but died out. Today, British markets face a highly uncertain future; many of the traditional street markets are in decline and pitching has become a dying art.”
See Dr Clark’s film at marketpitching.com
The butcher, above, on Selby market during the miners’ strike, said: “I call this my miners’ deal because you get superb value for money on this one. In the supermarkets it’d cost you over £9.20. My normal price is £6.50, but I’m gonna go lower than that here today.
"I’ve worked cost for the last four months because of the miner’s strike, and this is the only line on the vehicle that I don’t actually earn a profit. Right, watch what I’m gonna do with them. They’re not £9.20, and today they’re not even £6.50. ’Ere, ten hands up sharp. Gimme level and silly money – a fiver for the whole lot!”