In the 1840s Nottingham needed to expand. The Meadows and St. Ann’s areas were just fields, but these were soon built on after the 1845 Inclosure Act was introduced. These communities were designed with their own little corner shops, which got their supplies from the market. Fruit and vegetables were moved out of the market on containers made from thin slats of wood called ovals and half ovals. The market started issuing traders cheques – when you brought the containers back with your tally you got the cost back – sixpence or a shilling. These tallies go back to the 1860s. The ovals were all the same design – Smith B made them in Birmingham. They continued well through into the 1920s.
The Wholesale Market moved from the Market Square in around 1900. The trams came, horse drawn at that time, and the wholesalers had to go to make room for them. They moved down to Sneinton Market, which was a very unpopular move at that time. For thirty years they kept complaining that the facilities were not all that good. Eventually Freckingham Street was built and things improved.
In the late nineteenth century, Sneinton consisted of back-to-back houses with poor sanitary conditions – outside toilets were shared by lots of families. A lof of these houses were rented tenements, with more than one family in a house. There would be stocking knitters, chimney sweeps, lots of labourers and quite a few journeyman pipe makers working for Thomas Edwards and his descendants – you could say it was a low class part of the town. Perhaps it wasn’t as bad as places like Broadmarsh or Narrow Marsh, but to our eyes today it would seem quite squalid. The houses must have been 120 years old when they were finally demolished in the 1930s. Very nearby, there still are some houses surviving from that period as well as the King William IV pub, which was built in 1831.
One of my relations lived in the Colwick Road area in about 1886 – they was costermongers back then – that meant they sold fruit and vegetables. He’d be trading all round the area on a horse and cart selling his wares, then he’d put furniture on the cart, take it back the other way and sell it in the city.