Jamaican “Queen of the Birmingham Markets” Clarabell Tomlinson Dies at 76

Clarabell Tomlinson - Jamaican Queen of the Birmingham Markets

Jamaican born Clarabell Tomlinson, known as the “Queen of the Birmingham Markets,” has died at the age of 76. The popular Tomlinson provided many people in this UK city with their first taste of Caribbean fruits and vegetables, which she sold at a market stall for 35 years. Her family is committed to carrying on Clarabell’s legacy. Daughter Stacia, who formerly worked at the Birmingham City Council, now sells the vegetables and fruits at the market with her daughter Adina. She remembers what a good example her mother provided in terms of a strong work ethic. Clarabell received the stall as a gift from her long-time friend Adina McKoy, or “Miss Mack,” in 1981, when Adina decided to move back to her home island of St. Lucia. Stacia says Miss Mack visits the UK every six months, so she is still in contact with the family. Clarabell was born in Fruitful Vale, Portland, the only one of her five siblings to leave Jamaica. She moved to Birmingham at the age of 21, ulimately raising five children there and enjoying 26 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren by the end of her life. Ill health forced Clarabell to retire a few years ago, and she died of congestive heart failure on June 14, 2016. The family plans a big funeral on July 11 at St Martin’s Church in the Bullring, which is located at the heart of Birmingham’s market land. “We’re planning a funeral with a markets theme – it’s what Mom would have wanted,” said Stacia.

About the author

Stephanie Korney