Everyone who visits London usually pays a visit to one of the many markets, but few know that there are well over 100. The most visited tend to be Camden, Portobello Road, Covent Garden and Petticoat Lane. However, how many of you have heard of Brick Lane, Brixton Market or Rathbone?
Greater London is home to a wealth of covered, outdoor and street markets. Many specialise in particular kinds of goods or sell different articles on specific days of the week. Most open early and close early or late afternoon so it’s well worth getting up at the crack of dawn so as to catch some good bargains and avoid the crowds.
Markets in London and other towns and cities in Britain have their origins in the Middle Ages and were set up to serve the growing London population. A lot of them became wholesale markets selling particular goods like meat, fish and vegetables. Smithfields, Covent Garden and Billingsgate are good examples. Later on markets opened up in the growing suburbs to serve the expanding population.
The markets today are regulated by the City of London and 32 London boroughs and many have become general markets where you can buy almost anything.
New Covent Garden Market is the largest fruit, vegetable and flower market in Britain, with over 200 businesses and 2500 employees. It supplies almost half of the fresh fruit and vegetables eaten outside of the home in London and is used by many London florists. Its wholesale distribution service does business with many of the best restaurants, hotels, cafés, bars, schools and hospitals.
Old Billingsgate Market is a fish market, relocated in 1982 to Poplar. The original premises are now venue centres.
Leadenhall Market, originally a food market, now operates as a retail outlet space.
Spitalfields, another food market, was also relocated in 1991 to Leyton. However, the original site now houses a market selling fashion, art and design, food and vintage goods.
Other notable markets
Brick Lane, began in the 17th century and with the arrival of Jewish immigrants now sells food, antiques, bric-a-brac and delicious Asian takeaways.
Camden Lock Market, next to Regent’s canal, sells a variety of things from general goods, music and military surplus to jewellery, incense and fast food.
Petticoat Lane is located in East London and sells clothing, luggage and a wide variety of consumer goods.
Portobello Road Market sells antiques and is located in Notting Hill.
There are many other markets which are hardly ever visited by tourists but are used by local residents.
The Blue, in Bermondsey, is open Monday to Saturday and sells food and clothes.
Chapel Market, in Islington, sells mainly food and general goods.
Lewisham Market, in South London, sells fruit, vegetables and general goods.
Rathbone Market, in Canning Town, is only open on Thursday mornings and sells textiles and bric-a-brac.
Rosewood London Slow Food and Living Market, in Holborn, is open every Sunday from 10am to 3pm.
Tooting Market, in South London, opens daily and sells food, household goods, fabrics and furniture.
The Waste is held every Saturday morning along Kingsland Road, East London.
Whitechapel Market sells fruit, vegetables, clothing and general goods.
Markets are not only buying and selling places, but also great social meeting haunts as well as being an opportunity to pick up English and converse with the local people. There are always good pubs nearby and a wealth of really good eating joints where you can get an authentic taste of different dishes and excellent service too. You don’t always have to go to the MacDonald’s or Pizza Hut around the corner from your hotel. Venture into the little known areas of the London Markets. We’re sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised!!