The history and future of the iconic Balmain Market

We sat down with Louise Twine from the Balmain Market to talk a little about both the past and potential of this beloved event, of which Cobden & Hayson is a proud supporter. We truly believe she’s one of the heroes of our community. If you stroll past the markets early on a Saturday you’ll witness the huge effort she and her husband put into creating something that the entire community benefits from. And to know that she does it just for love makes her story quite special.

The Balmain Market is one of Sydney’s oldest and best-loved markets. Located in the grounds of St. Andrews Church on the corner of Darling Street and Curtis Road, it’s rich in history. The original concept dates back to 1971 when some locals formed the Balmain Association, holding an annual Christmas arts and crafts sale at The Watch House. This then evolved into the Balmain Village Fair, outgrowing The Watch House, and in 1977 the organisers approached the church about launching a community market in the grounds.

Louise Twine moved to the peninsula two decades ago and used to peruse the market regularly. Even when she moved interstate it became a non-negotiable port of call when she came back to visit. When she once again found herself living in Balmain she set up her own stall, selling upcycled cushions and succulents. She’d always arrive early and stay late to help out, such was her passion for the market. Louise got to know the Reverend and his son and daughter who jointly ran the event and eventually ended up helping run the show along with her husband.

“Back in the day there used to be three iconic markets in Sydney – Balmain, Paddington and Kirribilli,” says Louise. “Now you’re competing with about 160 markets across town! The Reverend had to entrust the market to someone else when he temporarily moved away and it wasn’t really looked after properly, but it’s such a special community event that I was delighted to get involved and not let it just fade away. I’m determined to revive it to what it once was.”

“I’m really strict with stallholders. Everything is 99% handmade which is our unique point of difference. And dogs are welcome. We’ve got a really great mix of new stallholders and people who’ve been with us for years. In fact, we were the first market to serve Turkish gözleme and the original stallholder couple are still doing their thing 41 years later … people still come just to try it!” Even our Director Matt Hayson had something to say about the gözleme “After Saturday inspections one of the crew always pop past the stall and get a big order to feed the team back in the office. It’s an absolute favourite for us.”

“A highlight was celebrating our 40th year last year, and having Cobden & Hayson come on board as a sponsor was incredible, allowing us to really inject some love into enhancing the market. It would be great to see more locals coming past regularly, which is why we decided to operate just twice a month instead of every Saturday. It makes it more of a special event, gives our small team a chance to focus on making improvements and gives stallholders an opportunity to spread themselves around other markets. However, we’ll be open every Saturday for the busy December period. The Christmas markets are always really fun and festive and a great place to pick up some pretty unique gifts – candles, homemade aprons, antique jewellery, children’s shoes, teddy bears, tutus and more!”

 

“Moving into 2019 and you can expect to see a dog show and some other community events, perhaps utilising the food court section more and getting some local pubs involved. And we’re really driving the social media angle with our Instagram (@balmainmarket) and FaceBook pages that support our website (balmainmarket.com.au).”

“It’s important to note that we’re a non-profit, with all the stall fees going back to support the church and its various charities. I believe it’s also vitally important for all of us to shop and eat locally and get behind your community.”

Hours are 9am to 3pm on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of every month (including the 5th Saturday if there are 5 weekends in a month) and every Saturday in December up until Christmas.

Posted in Community on 27th November, 2018