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Time Out Takeover: remembering Kensington Market in the 1980s

Posted at 4:15 pm, September 24, 2013 in Arts & Entertainment, Secret London, Shopping & Style

Kensington Market © Amanda Sullivan

takeover2When we asked Time Out reader Crouch Ender Wayne Berkley Herbert, 43, Client Development Director, about his favourite thing in London he told us a nostalgic tale of his love for 1980′s Kensington Market. Join him in remembering the iconic west London alternative mecca:

Kensington Market is an important part of London’s alternative past. Born in late 1967 and housed within a three story terraced building along the High Street between upmarket shops, Kenny Market breathed life into many subcultures. It dressed hippies, punks and latterly the acid house ravers. All the stalls were within individual cubicles with walkways in-between. Inside it felt cavernous, magical and mystical. The employees were as bold and colourful as their merchandise and Freddie Mercury famously had a stall there.

Kensington Market

I found Kensington Market in the mid 1980s as a goth from sleepy Hertfordshire where I was the only punk in the village. I would drift through the wafting patchouli and inhale its treasures: a combination of clothing, jewellery, rubber, chains, whips, art, tattooists, piercers and hairdressers.

Kensington Market © Lloyd Johnson

The lease ran out in early 2000, and the market simply expired. The stronghold of retro and innovation chic no longer housed stalls including among others Trashion, Fetish or Die, Big Jesus Trashcan, Johnsons or Sign of the Times. You need to head to Brick Lane or Camden to find anything similar today. I have such fond memories and miss being able to apply my guyliner and immerse myself in a gothic labyrinth.

When the market closed, many scattered to the four winds. According to a great Facebook page, some went into normal grown up jobs but a number stayed in the alternative arts. Johnsons went on to have shops in Covent Garden, Portobello Road and on the Kings Road. Sign of the Times went to Covent Garden. We all know Freddie Mercury went on to front one of the world’s biggest rock bands. Brands such as Red or Dead and Pepe also started in and around Ken Market. There are so many success stories and not enough space to cover them all here. Wayne Berkley Herbert. Read more from Wayne at his blog ‘Introspections of a Displaced Boulevardier’ at berkeley34.wordpress.com

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