The job was to capture the essence of 8 London markets in 2 days. And what a project it turned out to be – it was where I experienced vibrancy, colour, noise, bustle, great food and variety. I saw old London mixed with the new. I saw architecture like I’d never seen it before – and I got up close to the buildings that make the London skyline. I walked between and beneath them.
Exploring on foot opened my eyes. This in itself would have been good enough. However, the markets were, for me, were the undiscovered and unexplored part of London. So, here is a short take on my 8 London Markets – go take a look, they are wonderful.
Borough Market: Nearest tube – London Bridge. Go on a Saturday/Sunday.
They say that “Borough Market is London’s most renowned food market; a source of exceptional British and international produce. It is a haven for anybody who cares about the quality and provenance of the food they eat” It was the first one I did and it was amazing – colour, smell, bustle and all with a fantastic variety of food. A must visit.
Old Spitalsfield Market: Nearest tube – Liverpool Street Station. Go on a Saturday/Sunday.
They say “Old Spitalfields Market is a covered market in Spitalfields, London. There has been a market on the site for over 350 years”. The day I visited there was the usual variety of stalls – plus there was an independent-label music festival, plus the London brewers market. Truly fabulous – and again the food on offer was amazing.
Camden Market: Nearest tube – Camden Town. Go on a Saturday/Sunday.
They say “London’s leading Market destination home to independent retail, global street-food, restaurants and bars”. And this is a big and very varied market – set around the famous Camden lock. Some of it is undercover, and some outside. Again plenty of food on offer and an amazing array of stalls and shops to visit.
Portobello Road: Nearest tube – Notting Hill Gate. Go on a Saturday.
They say “Portobello Road, the world’s largest antiques market with over 1,000 dealers selling every kind of antique and collectible. Visitors flock from all over the world to discover one of London’s best loved landmarks which contains the most extensive selection of antiques in Britain”. A slightly less energetic market than the previous ones I had visited – maybe due to the type of things on offer. However, for very different reasons, it is a must to browse and to look through the stalls that offer so much – with much more emphasis on low prices! Surrounding streets offer food, drink and very often street entertainment!
Smithfield Market: Nearest tube – Farringdon. Go on a weekday – note the opening times though!
They say “Smithfield or, to give it its official name, London Central Markets, is the largest wholesale meat market in the UK and one of the largest of its kind in Europe”. Of course, as a vegetarian this one wasn’t the greatest for me. The smell and the content was, er, not great. However, there is no denying the history that this place, and this building, is steeped in. Open between 2AM and 8AM in the morning (!!) this one may be the one you give a miss, however if you’re passing it’s definitely worth a look for the building alone. If you go they do sell to the public. But by the way, it’s closed at the weekend.
Leadenhall Market: Nearest tube – Monument. Go on a Saturday/Sunday.
They say “a modern retail centre set within a historical Victorian market place”. This was probably the smallest of the markets but it was the most dramatic, in terms of the architecture. A fantastic building to spend an hour or so in – and it’s the building that is the major talking point. And it’s set within walking distance of many of London’s contemporary buildings.
Petticoat Lane: Nearest tube – Aldgate East. Go on a Saturday/Sunday.
They say that Petticoat Lane Market has been “operating since the 1750s. It has over a thousand stalls, specialising in clothes and household goods. The bulk of the market falls within the Tower Hamlets area with Middlesex Street only in the City”. I found Petticoat Lane Market to be an old-style market with bric-a-brac and clothing stalls. Set in a street off Tower Hamlets, and in the shadow of the city and The Gherkin it sits, confidently as a reminder of an older London.
Brick Lane Market: Nearest tube – Aldgate East. Go on a Sunday.
Brick Lane Market is a great place for street entertainment, food and of course bric-a-brac, clothes and music. It’s streets are thronged on market days, with people from every walk of life. Visit Brick Lane Market on a Sunday – the busiest and best day, with a full market and plenty of stuff going on. And of course there are plenty of bars and lots of curry houses to enjoy!
These are the 8 markets I visited.
Of course, there are others – but these are a good place to start. And my intention was not to give everything away – the photos that accompany my notes are just a small selection of the images that I took.
My advice is to go and have a look for yourself – you won’t be disappointed.