One of London’s most old-school street markets could close unless more people shop there

Remember the days when you could stroll down Chapel Market, pick up your groceries, cop a big packet of batteries and finish the day off taking a picture with a monkey? Us too. But once a lively and dependable bazaar, the old-school market in Angel is struggling at the moment. 

According to traders, Chapel Market is ‘slowly dying’, and it needs more shoppers to help keep it alive. 

Despite a £1.6 million investment from Islington Council, sellers on the market say it was a ‘waste of money’ and has failed to ‘future proof’ the destination. Traders claim the council’s changes to the market street are actually driving sellers away. 

‘In about a year there won’t be any businesses left,’ one café owner, Yildirim Gorgun, told Islington Tribune. ‘Everybody will close soon. I can’t see any future here. I don’t want to leave but I can’t continue like this any more.’

As well as installing new flower beds and a new gazebo, the council pledged to recruit more market stalls, but traders claimed that people who had applied for a stand had been rejected. There are also complaints that the flower beds are badly designed and made of cheap materials and have been hit numerous times by vehicles on the street. 

Adrian Serrano, the ‘Paella man’ who runs La Real Paella and won Street Food Trader of the Year in 2022, told Islington Tribune: ‘They stopped taking applications from new traders and now we are just three food traders – before we were 15 or 20. The market is dying slowly, slowly, slowly.’

Other sellers have stopped taking card payments as the scarcity of customers doesn’t make the fees worth it. 

Dean Flint who runs a plant stall said the council wants to turn the market into ‘a yuppie trendy street’, like the nearby Exmouth Market

A council spokesperson said: ‘Chapel Market is one of Islington’s best-loved local markets, serving local communities for over 150 years with a range of affordable goods and fresh food.

‘As part of our mission to keep Islington’s local economy thriving, we are working to improve and update the market so that it will be a great place to shop and trade for years to come. We want to provide a varied range of affordable goods and services in the market – from a place to get keys cut, to buy fresh fruit or to try some delicious hot food.

‘The changes that have been made to Chapel Market have helped to create an even more welcoming, pleasant space for residents, visitors, and traders, and reflect the feedback that the council received during a public and trader consultation at the start of last year.

‘We are actively recruiting traders for the market to make sure that we continue to have a diverse mix of traders, to attract old and new shoppers and visitors alike. Plus, we offer flexibility with casual trading licences and cheap stall rents.’