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Cambridge market stall Harvey and Son to close after 92 years

One of the longest-running family stalls on Cambridge market will pack up for the last time this weekend after 92 years in the trade.

The flowers, fruit and veg stall Harvey and Son has been trading since 1930, when Sidney Taylor Harvey decided to start selling produce from his allotment. Now his great-grandson, Robert, and his wife, Jo, are retiring to spend more time with their own grandchildren.

Jo and Robert Harvey on their stall at Cambridge market. Picture: Keith Heppell
Jo and Robert Harvey on their stall at Cambridge market. Picture: Keith Heppell

Jo, 61, who has worked on the stall with Robert since their children grew up, says she will miss her friendly customers and their chats when she hangs up her apron.

She told the Cambridge Independent: “Our lovely customers have supported us all this time and the great thing about a market stall, which isn’t the same in a shop, is that you get to stop and talk to each other. That’s the most important and positive thing about working there.

“You never know each day who you’re going to see, you might even meet someone famous. I met Princess Diana when she came to visit the market and she was absolutely gorgeous.

“I always go home with a different story to tell my mum, who will be 95 this year. She loves hearing about what has happened at the market each day.

“But things have changed a lot and many of the stalls on the market have closed now. Covid changed everything and some regular customers never came back to the market because they get their fruit and veg delivered now and don’t come into Cambridge any more.

“We’re not computer people really, and so it was difficult trying to sell things online, even though my daughter helped to set up a website for us. The way we sell our plants didn’t suit that kind of business - you can’t put boxes of plants in the post. It’s very difficult to make a living at this nowadays. We don’t have regrets. It’s just the way business has changed and so it’s time to move on.

Jo Harvey on the stall. Picture: Keith Heppell
Jo Harvey on the stall. Picture: Keith Heppell

“We love what we have done for 42 years since we’ve been married and we wouldn’t change it for anything, but it’s time for new adventures and spending more time with family. My mum lives in the next village and I want to see more of my grandchildren. Plus, because we were always busy growing our plants in the nurseries in summer we couldn’t go on holiday until the winter. We’re planning on a holiday straight away!”

The stall began when Sidney Taylor Harvey was made redundant from Cambridge Scientific Instruments during the Depression in 1930. To earn more money, he started growing vegetables in an allotment and cycled from Hauxton into Cambridge to sell them at the market in Peas Hill.

In 1940, the family bought land at Little Shelford for a nursery and had a second nursery at Harston and after Robert’s father returned from the Second World War he began working on the market.

Robert, who is now 69, started work on the stall in 1971 when he was 18 and he married Jo in 1980.

Jo says: “Our children are happy doing other things. They didn’t want to come into the business and we supported that right from the start. We always said to run the nurseries and the stall, they had to go to horticultural college and show that they had an interest in it and in the end their interests were elsewhere. We were really happy about that. We’re lucky they still live close by and they’re both happily married with two children. So we have got four grandchildren living nearby that we want to spend more time with.

“The response we have had from customers after we let people know we were going has been really nice. I put it out on our Facebook page and already people are coming and saying goodbye and saying thank you. I have been blown away by the appreciation from people.”

Jo and Robert will wave goodbye to the market on Saturday (July 23).

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