Spitalfields – More than a Market
Meets high fashion.
World cuisine from established brands,
Celebrating the values of commerce and wealth creation,
Acknowledging its migrant past
In the diverse stuff
That we will serve our customers.
All the fun of a market
Without the unseemly noise and bad smells
No! We’re regenerating.
And if you want wholesale you can go to Leyton now
(Not that anyone we know does, in fact I don’t even know where it is).
Everyone likes history and tradition,
That’s why we’re keeping a third of the market intact –
You know, the 19th century section with the difficult grade II listing restrictions –
But the rest can be a brave new world of steel and glass.
The new Old Spitalfieds will be new and old,
Moving with the times,
Open-air, but with a glass roof, or canopy, as we like to call it,
Yes, it’s open-air but it never rains.
It allows us to create a kind of Mediterranean café-culture –
But without the hot weather, or the youths on Vespas,
Or wandering buskers, or begging gypsies,
Or the Mediterranean –
No, none of that!
And no family restaurants either.
We see it more as an opportunity
For some of the upmarket brands
To establish franchises that will satisfy the demands of our core market:
City workers at lunch-time,
West-enders on the weekends;
Our wives could take their mothers there.
It will need to be clean, of course.
Our corporate partners will, in time,
Through whatever tax which isn’t tied up in offshore refinancing,
Pay for the costs of the labour required to maintain the standards,
And in any case, it won’t be much,
After all, this is what we have immigration for.
Oh yes, immigration!
Did we mention that?
Hugonauts, Jews, Bangla-town somewhere,
Over there, out of sight …
Now Norman Foster says he can build an office block,
Bring more employment to the area,
Like banks and legal firms,
Above all, create some space between the more unsavoury aspects of Tower Hamlets and the City.
Of course, we’ll also set up a fund for projects in the borough
That will entertain children with ideas of aspiration,
And teach employability,
Any kind of worthy cause that keeps them out of trouble
And provides good photo-opportunities for public figures
Who need to be photographed with brown children.
We’ll need some art of course
To keep it civilised.
A sculpture, modern,
But acknowledging the heritage –
Something obvious, none of your abstract notions,
And nothing political –
A stack of crates with a goat on top?
That should do it.
And we’ll need a slogan.
Yes, a difficult thing, a slogan.
The wife of one of the leading partners
Chairs an excellent marketing consultancy company,
I believe they are exactly right for this
And I hear they already have an idea,
They just need a few hundred thousand to thrash out the details:
Spitalfields, more than a market.
Sam Berkson, April 2011