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Happy Hundredth Birthday to the Real Market Champions!!

November 17, 2011


November 17th 2011 marked one hundred years of trading in Kirkgate Market for Bethells fishmongers. As part of the celebrations the family have written a brief history of the stall (see below) and wanted to thank all of their customers past and present. And we at Friends of Leeds Kirkgate Market wanted to send a few messages of thanks to Bethells and to Liz who works so hard on behalf of the market, its traders and its customers – we think she is the real market champion.

BBC Radio Leeds came to celebrate as well and here you can hear us singing happy birthday (scroll to 2hours 24 mins).


In November 1911 two brothers, Richard and Eddy Bethell together with the backing of a third brother William started a wet fish business in Leeds Kirkgate Market. Some years later Eddy started his own business T.E. Bethell which was later sold out of the Bethell family. Since that time, R Bethell has traded continuously in the same family up to the present day and it is now run by his great niece Elizabeth (Liz) with husband John and their son Joe, who is the fourth generation of the family involved in the business.

Over the years we get to know our regular customers as individuals and share their worries, joys and losses. We watch their young families grow, who in turn bring their own children and their children’s children down to the market. This personal relationship cannot be replicated in large anonymous super markets and shopping malls – which makes markets like ours essential social institutions as well as great places to shop.

These days sadly, markets are under threat of being trampled underfoot by the advance of corporation globalisation, but we will not go down without a fight. We would like to take this opport
unity to thank all of our customers past and present for their loyalty, humour, good nature and even their cussedness which makes this entirely smelly, cold and very wet business almost enjoyable!!


Congratulations on a remarkable and inspiring achievement. Your family and the stall have become a huge part of our lives and the lives of thousands of people in Leeds and beyond. You are a pillar of strength for the market and the pubilc – we need this market to survive and we know that you will fight to the end to keep it alive. Enjoy your day, celebrate your longevity and feel proud to know that so many of us feel so proud of you! Another 100 years – Stuart, Sara and Diego.


Greetings from a grateful customer. Hope you all have a lovely day, and many more in the future. Janet Douglas


Best Wishes Liz, sorry we couldn’t make it down today – From Mr and Mrs Riley


Dear Bethells – congratulations!! If the ups and downs of the past ten years are anything to go by – your family should be looking back at the past 100 with an incredible sense of pride and achievement. You have been such an important part of the unwritten history of Leeds and its people. Liz – thank you one hundred times for doing what you do, and being who you are. You inspire so much:  friendship, respect, trust, affection and (if they’re on the wrong side) fear. It is a privilege to know you and to help celebrate this moment in your family’s history. Thank you for trusting us Liz, Lots of love from Megan, Carl, Roddy and Reuben xxxx


Liz congrats on your 100th anniversary lets hope you have many many more xxxx Melanie Kennedy


Many many congratulations on reaching the 100th – a great achievement indeed – lot of good history in the making there….may you continue to flourish! Veronica Lovell.


Happy Hundred Years of Trading to the only woman who can make Gerry Harper squirm! peace and love Sarah Covell and family


Dear Liz, Congratulations to you for your wonderful fish stand’s 100th anniversary and all your important work in representing and supporting the market and its traders. As I am returning to Germany, I will surely miss you, our weekly chats and the beautiful seabreams. the market is one of my favourite places in Leeds and not least because of your presence. I wish you all the best, strength for the continuing battle with the council and that the market can look forward to many future anniversaries.  Anna Richter


To our long term friend Fish Lady Liz and her family, in celebration of 100 years of fishy business. Long may it continue. From Roger and Susan Shaw


I have only been shopping at your stall for forty years. I hope it’s there in another forty. Best wishes on your 100th Yours Chris Leonard


Hi Liz, CONGRATULATIONS! I am sorry I can’t be there to congratulate you in person but I will be thinking of you.I really enjoyed working with you when I was based in the market and I will always pop back whenever I can to see you. The traders have such a great champion in you, and you represent all that is great about the market. I hope your anniversary celebrations are great fun and that you enjoy celebrating yoru family’s remarkable achievement. Wishing you all the best for the future. Lots of love, Woody and Iain Whittick X x 100


Congratulations and best wishes to Liz and family, a very fine fish stall indeed! – from Alan


You are the market! – Sara


Congratulations to Liz  and family on the achievement of trading in Leeds Market for 100 years, you now join me (Arthur Ramsden)  in the century club, there  is I am sure only the two families left still trading with this distinction, ironically both in the fish trade. We were presented with a commemorative decanter & glasses a few years after we achieved the 100 years trading from the council sent from Dortmund the twin city.
I hope similar consideration is made in your achievement.
Well done Liz, well done from someone who knows how hard the road can be.
I and the family send our best wishes on your special day and many more years.

All the best from the Ramsden family

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