Ron Lomas: the market reflects the diversity and is like a big family

I’m Ron Lomas, originally born from three parts: Caribbean, South America and North London. I am 68. I’ve worked here for many years, many years, and I can’t even remember.

I’m a fish picker. I pick the fish for companies. The quality check, the quality of the fish is for them, any fish they want. In every company, there is a picker of fish, salmon, bream, bass, emperor. When the fish comes in, what I do is to check the quality. If the quality is good, we take and put it into the boxes, and send it over for customers who have ordered them.

I’ve been here many, many, many, many, three decades. I worked in the Billingsgate Fish Market when it moved from where the original place was in the city to here. Then I’ve started to work here.

There’s nothing to be upset about.

When we had the porters, there was a trade when they all were here. The market of those is like a family, with all the porters and all the noise and the swearing at each other. It was lovely. That’s the most memorable part about the market. After all, every stall here is a different company but it’s like a big family. You know each other. You help out each other, you swear at each other. There’s nothing to be upset about. It’s just a lot of working and a hard job. But with the banter and the laughter with each other, it makes it much easier. It is one of the best place to work, really.

For example, when you set up this camera, others around us are bantering. We call that banter. There will always be teasing each other. That’s what makes this market appealing. It’s exciting to work there and they will never leave you alone. They will keep teasing you. When this is finished, they are still going to continue teasing you, after laughing it out.

When talking about the first day I worked here, it was totally different in those days. What you see in the Billingsgate Fish Market now is that there are more ethnic minorities in the market now. Before that, there were just more English people who had the stores and the fishes were just bream, bass, tuna, salmon, etc. But now with all the diversity in the market, you have different fishes from all over the world. Caribbean, Africa, India, China, Japan, you name it.  It has changed. It has changed.

It’s best environments you can work with.

Besides, I was always a brave, cheeky guy. So it was a little bit strange, but it was just what I was born to work in this environment is one of the best environments you can work with, as you saw when you came in and you start to set the camera up. Everyone was just laughing.

At the same time, the job is not an easy job and this is what makes the job easier. You get on with everyone, you see. The people here bring working motivation. You have a laugh for them. If you are down, they’ll come and cheer you up.

There is not a moment that you’re going to say, I’m bored. They wouldn’t let that happen to you. Many parts of the market, I like any part of the market. If I can choose one that I like. Yeah, it’s a hard core because I do enjoy everything, everywhere in the market, all the aspects in what would fit in the market. But if I have to choose, one is to work with lobsters. This company I work for does sell lobsters, but I am in the department which sells the pawns.

We have no choice in this matter.

I think Canary Wharf is the best place for the fish market. The reason why we’re relocated is because of the financial business buildings here. It is the engine of England, where it is accessible to the Londoners and now moving to Dagenham. We have to move. We have no choice in this matter. I think the new location is too far for the public to go there. The public come here and save a penny when they go out. Later, they have to pay more in fares and get up early. It’s inconvenient. If I have a choice, I would stay here. After the relocation, I think a lot of the stallholders may not go. The location is the main concern, and I think most of us will be retired by then.

I’m sure it will be a whole new game, a whole new market. I don’t think it will have the same atmosphere as we have now. Because most of us, the old people will be gone.