Here you can learn a little of the history of the East End Markets from their establishment to closure (1875 - 1988), view some photos of the old market, as well as some of the new Adelaide Produce Market at Pooraka (Established 1988).
South Australian Educator, and author of more than 100 books,
Colin Thiele, wrote of Adelaide's East End Markets:-
"Nothing suggests the fruitfulness of the earth more wonderfully than an
agricultural market. The rich medley of sights, sounds and smells send the senses
reeling: potatoes heaped prodigally like a million dumplings, melons bigger than
cannon balls, carrots like glowing marlin spikes, freshly decapitated cabbage heads,
cucumbers as thick as forearms, onions in long red netting sacks like lumpy legs in
fishnet stockings. Everywhere there are trucks and barrows and trolleys trundling
energetically among buyers, and growers who look as if they themselves have
sprung from the soil.and above all else is the smell - cloying and all-pervasive -
of fruits and plants and berries, and splashes of colour in red and orange and green
and yellow, as if earth's cornucopia has suddenly opened and rained its produce on
These words so well describe my feelings of the East End Markets
that I felt compelled share some of the markets history.
Hear the tinkle of the harnesses,
Of the horses in their carts
Just arrived from up the 'Hills'
And other distant parts!
Smell the freshness
Of the produce they bring.
Carts full of fruit and vegetables
The sweet smells of spring.
Shouting of the Growers,
Of the produce they do sell.
Hear their strident cry,
"A deena1 for the lot mate,
come on don’t be shy!"
Listen to the barrows,
Iron clad their wheels
Rumbling across brick laid paths.
Hear the children’s squeals.
To the clink of coins
Cases changing hands
Counting out the value
The produce of the lands.
Then suddenly it’s over,
The markets silent now!
No sign those men have been.
Horse and carts, long departed
Of the long gone East End Market,
And the smell of fruit and vegetables
And the characters that did team,
Midst the halls and roadways,
now no longer to be seen.
But wait someone did see
The future need to save,
The façade of the Market place
From its untimely grave.
So as you pass this monument
Think of man and horse,
As we hold back history's page
The phantoms run their course.
"A deena1 for the case, mate?
Be a bloody sport!"
©Peter R. Lang. 1999
1. Deena is Australian slang for 1 Shilling (1/-) in the
old Imperial (£. S. d.) currency.
Australia changed to Decimal currency on 14th February 1966.
In the early days of the settlement of Adelaide the population was so small that the few who grew fruit and vegetables could simply deliver their produce directly to the greengrocers' shops at what ever time they wished. As both growers and greengrocers became more numerous, the need for a market place became obvious. By about the 1860's, since there was no organised market, it was agreed between the growers and the greengrocers that the sales of fruit and vegetables should be held on East Terrace opposite the Stag Inn, commencing at daylight, on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.
From these small beginnings this "market" grew until at times the street was completely blocked. This caused the City Council to install posts in Grote Street (Victoria Square) to which horses could be tied, and to declare that all produce sales should be made from this site, and that no person would be allowed to sell produce in East Terrace. However since the council refused to provide any shelter, provision for refreshments, or public houses, the number growers using the facility was small. Most growers came from the eastern suburbs of Adelaide and the East Terrace site remained most popular, so they moved to an area behind the Stag Inn and a shop owned by Richard Vaughan. As more growers abandoned the Grote Street site this area soon became too small, and during the late 1860's Vaughan acquired all the land fronting East Terrace from Rundle Street to North Terrace, as well as that fronting the northern side of Rundle Street from East Terrace to the Exeter Hotel. Here he built Adelaide's first market sheds to protect the gardeners from the elements.
In 1871 Vaughan applied for an act to establish markets on the site, and this was granted in 1872.
However the cost of maintaining the market was too great, so in 1874 he issued a prospectus to form the East End Market Co. Ltd. with a capital of £50,000 (A$100,000) in £5 ($A10) shares to purchase from him all his rights under the Private Markets act as well as all the land with a frontage of 210 feet (64m) to North Terrace, 420 feet (128m) to East Terrace and 570 feet (174m) to Rundle Street.
The first meeting of the company, held on February 16th 1875, elected Richard Vaughan as Managing Director and Mr W. Adams as Secretary, both of whom resigned in 1877, when Mr Thomas Playford, who was the original chairman, became the Managing Director, and Mr John Harmer as secretary.
By the turn of the century an additional half an acre had been purchased, and the original sheds built by Vaughan demolished, the area was paved and covered with "lofty structures", with the roadways asphalted, to provide "thoroughly up-to-date" premises with "perfect sanitary arrangements".
Back to Top
At the beginning of the 20th century William Charlick, who had founded Charlick Bros. (a fruit, potato and grocery business)
at the East End Market in 1881 with his brother, retired from the grocery side of the business, to form William Charlick Ltd.
(wholesale fruit and potato merchants). Realising that the East End Market was again outgrowing its site, he acquired the land
between Rundle and Grenfell Streets and East Tce. and Union Street, and then began to negotiate with The East End Market Co Ltd
to extend their site.
However these negotiations failed, so he decided to pursue his idea to build a new modern market on his own. Enlisting the support of growers, merchants and the City Council a Bill was passed in 1903 empowering him to erect a market, not exceeding 4 acres in area, which was to be completed by 1908, with the Council having the power to take over the market (at its then value) sometime in the future - [however this option was never exercised by the council].
The Adelaide Fruit and Produce Co Ltd was quickly formed with a capital of £40,000 ($A80,000), and on May 2nd 1904 the market was opened for business. Extensions continued over the next couple of years, and by 1910 there were 390 growers' stands with provision for their vehicles and teams, 20 large packing stores, 11 small stores, 10 side stores, a refreshment-room and a blacksmith. Nearly 4 acres had been developed for market purposes at a cost of nearly £52,300 ($A104,600) for land and buildings.
The market was described as "..the best of its character in Australia - lofty, well ventilated, wide roads, no obstacles, automatically drained, and kept wonderfully clean". The original Chairman was W. Charlick, with Mr T.H. Brooker as secretary.
The market soon became known as "The New Market", with the original site known as " The Old Market".
There were two plaques like the one above located either side of the enterance door to the
Adelaide Fruit & Produce Exchange Co Ltd office.
One for T.H. Brooker and one for H.J. Bishop.
These were both lost after the relocation of the markets in 1988.
Replacements of these plaques were unveiled at a ceremony on Friday 9th September 2022
Back to Top
During the period 1930 - 1940 the number of Wholesale Merchants operating at the East End Markets rose rapidly, and The SA Chamber of Fruit & Vegetable Industries was formed with 31 Foundation Members, and a Foundation Council of 14, with Mr LC Heading as president and Mr DL Sobels secretary.
Back to Top
From the mid 1960's there was talk of the need to relocate the East End Markets, the surrounding
streets were again being over crowded,
and by the early 1980'S it had become necessary to close East Terrace, Rundle Street and Grenfell
Street on three mornings a week to
accommodate the parking and loading of retailers vehicles.
However it was not until 1985 that the SA Government allocated land at Pooraka (north of the city),
for the building of a new market. In 1986 a
developer was appointed by the Government to carry out a feasibility study of the project.
In 1987 when the feasibility study was released it was rejected by the Merchants on the basis of prohibitive costs.
The fruit and vegetable industry then put forward a proposal to the Government for a joint venture
between the two. This was rejected by the
Government, so in April 1987 the Fruit and Vegetable Industry decided to proceed on their own.
A new company was formed (consisting of Wholesalers, Growers
and Retailers) under the leadership of John Eakins, construction of the new facility finally
commenced in November 1987 and it was completed
in September 1988.
The East End Markets ceased operations on Saturday 1st October 1988, and on Monday 3rd October The Adelaide Produce Market Ltd commenced trading at Pooraka with the official opening by Premier of SA John Bannon on Tuesday 4th October 1988.
I, Bill Chartres, first attended the “New Market” in the 1940’s (aged about 6) with
my father (Wal (“Jinks”) Chartres) who managed the Fruit Sales Floor of Silbert
Sharp and Bishop Ltd. In 1948 dad established the family business (Chartres & Eitzen Pty Ltd)
and from this time I often attended the market with him.
During the 1950’s I worked in the market before school three mornings a week and during school
I began full time employment in 1960 and continued at the markets until I retired in 2001.
In 1960 Chartres & Eitzen Pty. Ltd. established a fruit packing shed at Cudlee Creek in addition to its Sales Room at the market. However, following the disastrous bush fires of Ash Wednesday (16th February 1983) that destroyed the Cudlee Creek Packing Shed, I sold up and moved to Lobethal with Peg and our family.
I then went to work for the HL Banana Agency group, and when "HL" established another business (Sunshine Fruit Pty Ltd) in 1985 I managed that, firstly in the East End and later at the new Pooraka Market.
I retired in 2001, and live at Lobethal with Peg.
Our four sons, Nick, Wayne, Graham and Jason, worked with me at the Pooraka Market and Graham and Jason are both still working in the fruit industry
(making them sixth generation [on Peg's side] and third generation [on my side], to be associated with the fruit industry in Australia).
Graham works at Fresh Produce Group,in the Sydney Market and Jason at Bache Bros. in Adelaide's Pooraka Market.
"Photo (RHS) of Chartres & Eitzen Pty. Ltd.’s fruit Packing Shed, Redden Drive Cudlee Creek, SA following Ash Wednesday fire February, 1983.