Leicester Market Traders
The Market Minyan

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Leicester Market 1964, Courtesy of the Leicester Mercury

Leicester Market 1964, Courtesy of the Leicester Mercury

Leicester Market dates back to Viking times and is renowned for being the largest under-cover market in Europe. It has long had a reputation for being a bustling, thriving retail outlet and there is evidence of Jewish participation in various aspects of the market during the early nineteenth century, such as Joseph Levy who was trading in the 1840s. During the years after the Second World War many Jewish traders made their living on the market. There were so many that if a minyan (ten men required for prayers) was needed for a service in the Synagogue, the market was the place to find them. This page remembers some of those Leicester market traders who are now buried at Jewish Gilroes.

Postwar conditions made the market the perfect place to start up a business. An excellent example of this is Jack Markham. In 1947, armed with only his demob suit and £50, Jack set up an Antiquarian and Modern Books business on Leicester Market. He went on to sell a wide variety of goods including records, record players, cameras and typewriters. Dora Markham followed her son onto the market selling drapery; aprons, handkerchiefs and gloves. As she got older her son, Harold, took over. When his brother, Joe, retired he joined Harold and they ran the stall together.

Wolfe and Sadie Morrison helped by Wolfe’s sister, Katie Oken, sold curtain fabrics. As Wolfe was Secretary of the Synagogue for many years this was an easy place for people to contact the Leicester Hebrew Congregation. They would come with all manner of queries and requests and would often pay their subscriptions to Wolfe.

Joe Denning had been in the REME during the war and so managed to get a job in Taylor Taylor Hobsons when he was demobbed. He soon got himself a Saturday stall, firstly selling ladies shoes and then costume jewellery. It was so successful that, in the early 1950s, he gave up the day job and he and his wife, Frances, worked on the market full-time. Cyril Denningberg, Joe’s brother, had a Saturday stall with a very specialized stock of Matchbox toy cars.

Esther Lidiker 1966 Courtesy of Leicester Topic

Esther Lidiker 1966 Courtesy of Leicester Topic

Esther Lidiker sold fabrics and had become quite a well-known character on the market, so much so that in the 1960s a full length photograph of her standing in front of her stall made it onto the front cover of Leicester Topic.

Stanley Lidiker and Josie Zucker sold curtain fabrics. Stanley was an active member of the LHC and a well-known character on the market. He went on to open a successful shop alongside the market.

It was not easy collecting information about all of these market traders. The following are ones who we would love to know more about. If you have any information that you would like us to add, then please contact us:

Berel and Pasha Koffman sold costume jewellery as did Rita Stinnerman. Sadie Jacobs, Jack Jacobs’ wife, sold fur coats and stoles. For a short time Joe Jacobs pitched with ladies stockings before he opened the pub called the Haunch of Venison. David Zara and his brother sold perfume in the days when rationing meant that perfume was a difficult luxury to obtain. Their parents, Mr and Mrs Zara sold net curtains. Lou, Danny and Stella Cohen sold ladies knitwear. Jenny and Sollie Segal sold net curtains. Zelda First (Firestein) sold handbags. Saul and Clara Kalmus sole haberdashery. Michael Levy sold jumpers. Lou and Polly Rothman sold household goods. Jeffrey Cleps sold household goods. Morris and Ray Levy sold Persian carpets. Bernie Shine sold knitwear and blouses.

Apologies if any market traders have been missed off this list. Again, please contact us if this is the case.