Trevor Clark, a colourful and valued customer of New Covent Garden Market for over 50 years, has died aged 72.
Born in Swanley, Kent, on June 28th, 1950, Trevor began working in the fruit and vegetable industry for the father of Tony Compobassi (better known in the Market as Tony Marto), who had market stalls in the West End. In the early days, Trevor would buy from the old Covent Garden and the fruit was taken back to the stalls by horse and cart.
He progressed to running his own fruit and veg shops in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, before around 40 years ago, he began working for another market stall trader who had got a licence to sell in west London, the father of Paul Stein. When his father retired, Paul became Trevor’s partner in the business, which was now focused on one stall in Duke Street, opposite Selfridge’s, and their working relationship proved to be an enduring one.
“We both used to go to the Garden,” said Paul. “Trevor went very early and I’d go later to pick the gear up in the van. People liked him because he was no-holds barred, totally up-front. He’d tell you what he thought of you and he knew exactly how far he could go with salesmen on price – he understood that we all have to make a living.
“He was the same with me, very honest, and he made me save money and buy a house, as well as his younger brother who worked for us for a while.”
The market stall converted from fresh produce to a hot food stall, where Paul still trades his gourmet sausages today. “We stopped selling fruit and veg during lockdown and Trevor stopped going to the Market,” he said. That was the end of an era – Trevor, fondly nicknamed ‘Dinosaur’ and ‘Jurassic Clark’, was remembered with much respect by many traders on the news of his passing. Eddie Barrett of HG Walker was moved to write the following poem in his memory. “It’s personal, but most people will relate, I’m sure,” said Eddie:
‘Twas 1984 my story began,
I met Trevor Clarke, a giant of a man.
“Ow much that grape son?”
He demanded to know.
“Dami” Italia, the pride of our show.
“Eight pounds that’s made“,
“Charge me a neves, we’ll have a trade.
Seven pounds 30p, we settled the deal,
Trevor, you’ll never know how that made me feel.
I wrote your ticket the deal was done,
A nod from the guvnor – “good sale, son”.
Turkey Bert, Mckennas, Martos, all west end boys,
But you Trev made most noise.
You said what you felt, you didn’t hold back,
Those that got it were cut no slack.
The banter between you and Johnny Marto was legendary, as we all know.
In “Duncan’s cafe” the breakfast air was blue,
What most people didn’t know was your friendship was true.
“Greedy, deceitful, unkind” about most men you’d say,
But your love of dogs your heart would lay.
“Dinosaur”, “the giant”, “Jurassic Clark”,
But we knew Trevor it was all a lark.
All these years have passed us by,
Now we’ll miss that look in your eye.
New Covent Garden will never be the same,
Without the dinosaur who ended up lame.
You will be missed more than you know,
With memories affection and a heartfelt glow.
Trevor is survived by four brothers and three sisters. He was previously married to Louise, who passed away 20 years ago.