As Adelaide expanded and market gardens grew on the outskirts of the city a market place was needed where buyers and sellers could trade.

Various attempts since 1840 to establish a lasting formal market all failed. For example an 1851 proposal for a market in Light Square, in the west of the City, was objected to on the basis that Light Square was already “the most notorious den of iniquity in town”.

By the early 1860s an unofficial market developed on North Terrace.

As the unofficial market grew the street became blocked and the whole area was congested on ‘market’ days. Not only that, if the Adelaide Observer newspaper of the 28 January, 1854 is to be believed, North Terrace wasn’t, at the time, a place that one might recommend to the good ladies and gentlemen of Adelaide for their Sunday promenade:

“Near the Stag Inn… is to be found the carcasses of dead cats and dogs, rotting in the sunshine, and decayed vegetable matter of every description, helping to form the gas so fatal to human life. The stench reeking up from this foul bed resembles that of a charnal-house [sic].”

To address the situation, the City Council set up posts, to which visiting gardeners could fasten their horses, and open air stalls in Groote Street (Victoria Square) with the expectation that stallholders would relocate to this area. As the Council refused to provide shelter or any other facilities, and perhaps more importantly because there were no pub within easy reach, growers soon abandoned this site, returning to East Terrace, this time moving into the area behind the Stag Hotel owned by a Mr Vaughan. The East End Market thus came into existence in 1867. In the late 1860s Mr Vaughan bought the block between Rundle Street and North Terrace and in 1871 applied for permission to set up a market which he received the following year thus formalising his existing market and letting him expand it into his newly acquired land.

By 1890 the markets had become quite sophisticated with paved roadways, ‘perfect sanitary arrangements’ and permanent stalls though one major problem had arisen – the market had outgrown its small site and soon began spilling out onto the road. Additionally, according to the Adelaide Register of 1 November 1890:

“[An objection is made to] the presence and practice of a number of fallen women and girls in the East End Market and its vicinity. Their brazen conduct and imprudent profligacy cannot be abashed or ashamed. From early evening to the first streaks of grey in the east they are constantly about…”

Realising that the East End Market was outgrowing its site, William Charlick, himself a stallholder, acquired the land between Rundle and Grenfell Streets and started to negotiate with the East End Market Co.Ltd to extend its site. These negotiations failed and Charlick decided to set up his own market beside the exiting market. This would become the Adelaide Fruit and Produce Exchange (the New Market) – the subject of a separate review.

The East End Market continued operations until Friday 30th September 1988 (in later years operated by the Corporation of the City of Adelaide) when it, and the Adelaide Fruit and Produce Exchange, ceased operations, to be replaced with the Adelaide Produce Market in the northern suburb of Pooraka. Both east end markets had outgrown their sites and this time there was no room for expansion.

Today all that remains of the East End Market is the facade (depicted in my attached picture above) and a few pieces of market signage which I overlooked photographing.

In 1868 GE Holtermann constructed a single story hotel – The East End Market Hotel – next door to the market to cater for patrons, especially growers who came into town from the surrounding towns. A second storey was added in 1875 and while the market is no more, the hotel (picture 2) continues to operate in the form of P.J. O’Briens – The Irish Pub.

Address: East Terrance
Directions: Between Rundle St and North Terrace

For my next Adelaide – CITY EAST review click HERE.
For other Adelaide reviews click HERE.


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