"Spitalfields' oldest family run business"

     149 Commercial Street,

     London, E1 6BJ

     Telephone 020 7247 5119

     Mobile 07848035641

     Open Mon-Fri 6.30am-2.30pm

   The History of Gardners'



The Gardners' business started with my great great grandfather, who was called James Gardner and his wife who also worked at the business was called Martha Maria Gardner. Initially this business was for repairing scales as the street market was setting up then and people were using them on the stools, so it was handy if the scale broke that someone could repair it. In 1870 they both moved with their children to a shop in the Peabody building (Peabody is a charity who owned this building) site in Commercial Street. Firstly the Gardners had two children, over the course of time they had thirteen children, but not all of these did survive, the ones that I know of are, Marty Gardner, (she lived until she was 102) also Rosie Gardner, Daisy Gardner, May Gardner and Violet Gardner. Anyway carrying on, after the five daughters of James Gardner had served in the shop, the job was passed onto Roy Gardner (my grandfather) who was in the fleet air armed service in the Second World War. After this he worked in the shop from 1945 to 1968 when he died. When he died the job was partially passed onto his wife Vera Gardner, who worked in there from 1968 until 1971 whom after which the job was passed on to my father Paul Gardner. And he is still their todayÖ

This is the time when my father (Paul Gardner) started working at the Gardners' business, at that time he had help from his step-grandfather until he was 19 in 1974 when he started to run the shop by himself. In 1981 the Gardners' shop address was changed from 139 Commercial Street to 149 Commercial Street because of refurbishment to the buildings and he is still at 149 today. In 1991 the Spitalfields fruit market relocated to Stratford, this was a big change to Commercial Street as most of the Gardners' customers were green grocers. During this time, the Gardner family bought a shop nearby to the new fruit market in Leyton, Paulís sister, Susan, ran this shop selling the same kind of things as himself until 2003 where she left because she was threatened by a robber with a knife, and the shop was closed down.

During the start of Paulís time in the shop nearly all the shopkeepers were English or Jewish, over time this changed due to an influx of Bangladeshi immigrants in the late 1960s. Now nearly all the shopkeepers are Bangladeshi. Paul is one of the only English shopkeepers in the whole of Commercial Street, and his business has a very multi cultural customer base including people from all round the world.

One future innovation which will help the shop will be the use of the internet and the setting up of a Gardners' website. Technology has passed my father by and he is still in the 1870s, however I hope that one day a Gardners' website will be created with the help of his sons and the Gardners' shop will carry on in one form or another well into the future.

Robert Gardner ( Son of Paul) 2009