Real regeneration is achieved through people power, and sometime back in the summer of 2015 a group of us at Ash Sakula Architects decided that traders are the ‘rain and shine’ heroes; the stars of our public realm. We think conversation makes community, and that people make the public realm. We wanted to celebrate the people that make London's Leather Lane Market, so we found out who were the Rising Stars, the Established Stars and the Supporting Stars, interviewing them and recognising what they bring to the market community.
Leather Lane had definitely been shrinking and we wanted to reverse the trend. Lacing together shops and stalls in a common promotional push, local businesses recognised their pulling power as the right tool for injecting new energy into this 400 year old market.
We cannot claim all the credit, but since 2015 Leather Lane has reinvented itself, supplementing its traditional appeal with a myriad of stalls feeding the ever-increasing lunchtime worker crowd.
Friends of Leather Lane Stars at our first community meeting.
A market stall today.
"When it's like this, it's lovely to be here."
Shola, one of the market's Rising Stars, has been a trader at Leather Lane Market for 7 years, selling ladies' bags.
"I ended up spending more time here than on the road, so I kind of just migrated. It's lovely round here... After a while, you don't really venture outside."
Mario, a Supporting Star, works at the Craft Beer Co. on Leather Lane, serving fine ales and beers to the discerning Leather Lane clientele.
Support the Market - buy a badge! Ash Sakula created these badges to spread awareness and raise money.
Leather Lane as was.
"I could tell you every stone on this street and all round the neighbourhood."
Henry, an Established Star in the area, is one of the oldest traders on the block, having worked at the market for 43 years. He's lived in the area all his life.
"The customers come to this market... they know me here."
Inga and her husband Andrew, Rising Stars at Leather Lane, have been selling hats, gloves, sunglasses and other fashion accessories at the market for 5 years. She started at Roman Road after finishing school.
"At one time if you had a stall in this market, you was God."
Richard "Ritchie Rich" has been working in Leather Lane Market for 27 years, a well Established Star at the markets. He notes that the market 20 years ago "used to be like Mecca." Perhaps now it is again?