Ask me to name my favourite places in Walthamstow, go on, I dare you. Actually, on second thoughts, it’s probably best that you don’t, I’d be rambling at you for hours. How about I just tell you about one of my favourite places instead, Wood Street Market. I fell in love with the indoor market the very first time I visited. I loved the rambling corridors full to bursting with things I didn’t need, but really wanted. I loved looking at the curiosities, pressing my face up against the dusty glass of the shops to see what lurked inside. There has always been something to go back for. First it was a clothes shop called carbon 28, then Mothers Ruin, then Cakes Aura Rosa, the list is endless. Over recent years the market has seen a number of changes and it’s fair share of problems. Not least of which was the sale and demolition of the part of the market that stood behind the Dukes Head on Marlow Road. Like many, I wondered if the sale of part of the building would signal the end of the market. I remember visiting when the demolition was taking place, I saw the wall go up between what remains of the market and the now long gone Marlow road end. Things looked to be in a pretty sad state, but thankfully, the market survived, and is as glorious as ever.
I had a wander around the market on Saturday. Picked my way around the U-shaped corridor, entering through one door, leaving through the other, then heading back to my starting place and looping around again. This building is a little bit like the wardrobe that leads to Narnia. From the front it looks like a small run of the mill shop, but when you walk in through the door, the interior stretches out before you, like a previously hidden world has been revealed. Mannequins keep watch on visitors, frozen in time in their vintage outfits. Endless boxes of records demand that you flip through them, even if you don’t own a record player. The windows of the small shops pull your gaze, stop you in your tracks, draw your face closer to the glass. Eyes flick over the curiosities inside, memories trigger when you see something your gran once had, or record you loved, or a toy you wanted when you were little. This isn’t just a market, it’s a story-teller, sharing the tales of all the once loved items that are now trapped behind glass.
Although the market is smaller than it once was, there is still a good mix of traders. The antique shops that I love gazing in at are joined by vintage clothes shops such as the incredible Gigi’s Dressing Room. Martins Toys provide for kids and grown ups alike, and you can even buy cacti from Tokens and Treats as I did on Saturday. Right in the heart of the market is a little cafe which has recently acquired new owners, so you can stop off for tea and cake as you wander around the maze of shops. For me though, the magic of Wood Street Market is its other worldliness, a high street off a high street, like Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter books. A secret, dimly lit world, a narrow labyrinth of memories, a treasure trove of stories. You could easily walk past Wood Street Market, ignore it, not understanding what lurks behind its doors. But once you’ve been in, explored, lost your self in its corridors, it’s not so easy to forget.
Wood Street Market is alive and kicking. It’s waiting to draw you in, it wants you to meander along the narrow alley way, browse through shrink wrapped Barbies and dusty vases. It wants you to lose your self in the boxes of records, remember your childhood and forget the world outside. Pay it a visit and it won’t disappoint. If you want more practical information, like opening times and shop directory, click here to visit their web site.