The market welcomed nine pupils accompanied by four members of the teaching staff from Hillstone Primary School. They had a small presentation by Rob Nixon on the site history, the fact that Birmingham had its market dating back to 1166 and some facts about food.
The children then were taken on a tour of the market. The traders had been prewarned of a tour so a number were very pro-active and also there was no bad language heard throughout the morning! The pupils were given fruit and had explanations about where certain products had come from and were able to discover fruit and vegetables they did not otherwise recognise.
They tasted fruit such as blood oranges and were each given fruit and a bunch of daffodils to take away. Caterfish demonstrated how fish are filleted and they were able to stand in the cold room at -25 degrees. They saw vegetables such as Yuccas, Dasheen and Taro alongside the varieties of tomatoes and fish with names such as yellow eye, doctor fish and parrot fish as well as getting to hold live lobsters.
They enjoyed their tour and were very interested by the environment and hopefully took away a further understanding about food.
The iconic two-wheeled carts still seen at wholesale markets are market porters (alternatively known as Banksmen) barrows used to deliver produce from the market stand to the loading point of someone’s lorry / van.
Despite the increased use of Fork lift Trucks and powered carts they are still very much in use at Wholesale markets throughout the country and the Birmingham Wholesale market still has a number with many having been in use for over 100 years.
The reason they have not been easily replaced is simply down to the design perfected over decades that allows a heavy load to be moved with reasonable force due to the counterbalance of the barrows. The springs meant that stuff wouldn’t vibrate and fall off on the rough & cobbled streets of earlier years.
A seasoned porter can get circa 50 boxes of oranges on a single barrow if loaded correctly. It really is an art and dependent upon knowing the produce and type of container.
The aim once loaded is of course to pick it up and move without tipping it. If you manage to tip it up it still results in much comment and disparaging remarks from fellow porters.
At one time the porters would have to own a porter licence and would be paid by the customer per job, but today the porters are employed by companies within the market.
The Birmingham Wholesale Market recently had a visit from the Lord Mayor of Birmingham. Yvonne Mosquito and her husband Winston enjoyed a full tour of the facility. During this time they met with a lot of tenants as well as the management team.
The Lord Mayor was very impressed with the new facility and thought it was a great triump for Birmingham as it will enable better and more efficient trade.