IT was a noisy, colourful wonderland where Southampton shoppers packed the space between market stalls as they busily searched for bargains while chatting to the traders.

Kingsland Market was such a centre for the local community that forty years ago, on New Year’s Day in 1980, the market was the venue for a special turkey lunch for dozens of homeless people who slept rough on the city’s streets.

Today the stalls piled carefully high with produce, meat, household items and bric-a-brac are merely memories, but there was a time when market buzzed with busy shoppers.

Back in the 1920’s the market boasted Punch and Judy shows, a dubious sounding dentist who charged sixpence (2p) to pull a tooth, racing tipsters and street entertainers including an escapologist.

According to history books Southampton had a market as far back as the Middle Ages, although Kingsland Market didn’t begin until 1880.

A 19th century newspaper report said: “Some days ago residents were surprised when men started work on the square in front of the Kingsland Tavern putting in drains and levelling the area.

“Inquiries revealed that a market for costermongers was to be held there. Residents of South Front have already voiced their objections to the work on several grounds, those of nuisance and expense being the principal among them.

“According to one resident there are enough nuisances in this quarter without adding to them.’’

Amid the financially difficult times of the Second World War, virtually all families were forced to count pennies and would consequently play the waiting game at the stalls. They would hold back until late in the day when the game dealers and butchers - who didn’t have refrigerators to store leftover stock in - would sell off meat to the highest bidder.

With the help of local churches and the Salvation Army, the men were served a menu of soup followed by roast turkey, which had been donated by shops and stall holders.

Sadly, when Kingsland’s stalls became isolated from the Above Bar shopping centre the number of people using the market dwindled

Even a redevelopment in the 1980s, including a £176,000 permanent roof that covered the stalls, was not enough to keep the market profitable.