Signal Film & Media

Wed 9th May 2018 at 18.30 - 20.00

Local group delves into the secrets of Barrow Market!

Julia Parks Signal Film & Media
We had a real treat this week when Tom Robson hosted Julia Parks from Signal Films and Media as our guest speaker.
Julia came to talk to us about a project her organisation had undertaken in Barrow market between October last year and May this year. It was an attempt to delve into the history of the market search out stories and record them for posterity. They began their search in the local archive office which was a great disappointment, yielding only 10 photographs, some council minutes but no list of traders. They then turned to the local mail office and found they had masses of articles and photographs which they eagerly explored.
Julia told us that there were several areas they worked in, between October and December, they held a photography workshop, delved into the mail’s huge archive, they had a group recording oral history, held a sound workshop and even had a temporary stall in the market which displayed maps, pictures and stories. That was very popular and served as a magnet, drawing in folk with their own experiences and stories for them to record.
They discovered characters such as the Celery King and the Banana King, the latter even had a Banana ripening room which the council provided !
A group called the “Octopus Collective” held some experimental sound workshops and recorded several of the current traders, including our own Tom Robson who talked about his stall, how it had changed over the years. We then saw photographs, firstly his father with some traders hawking their wares around Hawcoat, then one of his infant son who seemed to be climbing out of a giant teapot
Julia showed us a short film, which was still a work in progress, which used plasticine models produced by school children following workshops they had had with Barrow Island Primary School and Vickerstown Primary School. The children had listened to stories about the market and responded by modelling the characters and had produced a script for the film. Our club members thought that the production was excellent and very amusing, even for a “work in progress”.
Time was a bit short, so Julia had to cut down her film clips (she had loads available, maybe we will be able to have a sequel ???) and finished by showing us another amusing clip which featured the Banana King selling his wares by gathering a crowd with his blether, a common approach as we heard later to get customers to buy.
Finally Julia showed us a series of photographs of the old indoor market at the rear (or is it the front) of the Town Hall and the outdoor market to one side. That prompted Dave Ward to point out the places he and his family had had stalls. They were from Blackpool and Manchester and were drawn to Barrow Market because it was so lucrative. His father was a “Pitcher” he would take any article off his stall and tell a story about it, similar to what we had seen with the Banana King. In that way they gathered a crowd to encourage to buy their wares. Dave finished by saying he “travelled” in Ladies Underwear,  M&S seconds which he got from a supplier in Bolton. All too soon time was up and Tom Robson was asked to give the Vote of Thanks which everyone responded to enthusiastically.