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Brixton barrows at Brixton Market

Restoration of Brixton Market barrows

Brixton has one of London's most vibrant historic markets, dating from the 1870s. Its traditional wooden market barrows were once a familiar sight, and twenty years ago fifty were still in use in Brixton. Today only fifteen remain.

The barrows are perfectly fit for purpose; strong, manoeuvrable and robust. They have been passed down through generations and are at the heart of Brixton life, much valued by the traders who wheel them in to their pitch at dawn. They remove the need for vans driving in to unload stock, and are part of the historic setting for which Electric Avenue and Atlantic Road are famous.

Exposure to the elements had gradually shrunk and worn the timber. Most traders need to regularly soak the wheels in water to swell the wood, as the iron tyres loosen. As few traditional wheelwrights remain in London, the barrows became gradually unusable.

Heritage of London Trust restored the barrows in 2016. A temporary workshop was set up under Brixton's railway arches. All wood is was repaired using ash, elm or oak. A specialist wheelwright repaired or, if necessary, replaced the wheels. Historic lettering, once marking owner and pitch, was recarved and the barrows were repainted.

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