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Peter Murray

Based on his site investigations and knowledge built up through his career – with involvement in such major developments as Camden Lock market, Gabriel Wharf, Spitalfields Market and Trinity Buoy Wharf – Eric Reynolds of Urban Space Ltd. continued our look at London’s markets with an illustrated talk at Allies & Morrison’s offices in Southwark Street. Brian Whiteley reports.

Eric’s theme was that railways radically altered all London’s produce markets, with their long distance speedy supply removing the old requirement for cows to be kept close to the city in order to provide fresh milk as it had to be produced and consumed without refridgeration (e.g.right up to the 1890’s cows were kept in basement dairies in Spitalfields); fish could come from Aberdeen without being smoked or smelly; potatoes from Lincolnshire without wearing out teams of horses.

Once the major railway termini arrived on central London’s outskirts in the nineteenth century its traditional central markets gravitated out to them. The Great Northern Railway Company took a major first step in developing a series of warehouses and markets on land at King’s Cross. By the 1860’s the “Ten O’Clock Road” siding to the north of the station saw 39 warehouses located along it, each with its own branch line to take individual types of produce. In 1865 it handled such traffic as 85,000 tons of potatoes and 400 trucks of celery daily – and in the 1920’s recorded seasonal deliveries of 50 tons of rhubarb and 300 trucks of green peas.

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Peter Murray

Thanks to Studio Egret West for hosting Alec Forshaw’s talk on Smithfield. Brian Whiteley reports on the evening’s talk.

Historical Background / Evolution – Smithfield (originally “smooth field” in old English) started out as a Friday livestock market outside the Roman city walls – probably around 1000 years ago – making it the oldest surviving London market still trading in its original location. By the Tudor period, it started to expand to eventually trade five days per week, dealing in livestock, meat and vegetables. The land for the market was given to the City Corporation by the Crown in a Royal Charter of 1638. Today the land could still revert to Crown ownership if a market ceased to permanently operate there.

Its location outside the original city walls probably saved the market from the 1666 Great Fire and by the early 19th century, it found itself at the centre of a rebuilt and rapidly expanding city. Such was demand from London’s growing population that animals were being driven increasingly great distances (e.g. Scottish cattle) to be marketed there and then slaughtered and butchered. At the time, a common sight on the suburbs’ main routes was of cattle, horses, geese, etc. being herded down, e.g. along Edgware Road or Holloway Road en route to Smithfield.

By the mid 19th century writers such as Charles Dickens were highlighting the market’s ramshackle buildings, the dirty and dangerous conditions there for animals and humans and in particular the unsanitary conditions the meat slaughtering was having at the heart of the city in Newgate Street – with waste going directly into the Fleet and Thames. The noise and bustle of livestock and traders assembling there, together with the associated streams of animals coming through the suburbs was causing widespread concern. A major public gathering – St Bartholomew’s Fair every August – was also held at Smithfield. The noise, drunkenness and misbehaviour it brought merely added to public concern about the need to take action.

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Peter Murray

 

Eric Reynolds, the Founding Director of Urban Space Management spoke to the Society about one of his early projects – the development of Camden Lock market. Roger Cline reports.

Your reviewer lived close to Camden Lock for 30 years up to the Millennium and since then regularly has to weave his way through the crowds wandering between the tube station and the market. In fact the lock by Camden High Street is Hampstead Road Lock and the adjoining one to the east is Hawley Road Lock. From there the canal descends through many locks to the Thames at Limehouse. To the west there is a long level stretch through the Regents Park to Little Venice and beyond.

Camden Town was the centre of the piano-making industry and Dingwalls Timber Merchants specialised in making packing cases for pianos, leasing a site by the canal to receive their wood and possibly to send away the packed pianos. To have a piano in one’s front room was no longer an essential feature of households with aspirations, so Dingwall’s ceased trading around 1970.

Our speaker, Eric Reynolds, was one of three partners who took over the Dingwall’s lease from British Waterways. He is managing Director of Urban Space Management ,but has other interests in structures made of Shipping Containers, interim use of land and many charitable organisations. Running the market was really a sideline for all three partners, Eric was a boat-builder so the dock just upstream of the lock was put to good use, another partner was a doctor and the third was a surveyor. In the seventies the alternative lifestyles of young people created a market for non-essential items which could be made at home and sold at a stall on a Saturday.

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Peter Murray

 

On Tuesday 23rd January Eric Reynolds of Urban Space Management spoke at Allies + Morrison’s offices on the history of the capital’s markets, providing an insight into what is involved in the regeneration of these spaces with case studies of his personal experience. Hannah Smith reports.

Eric provided a brief history of some of the largest London markets, with interesting facts dating back hundreds of years, a more recent fact was that 250,000 turkeys were sold by one wholesaler at Leadenhall market in the 1930’s! Also, interestingly, the original specification that there had to be six or more people gathered together for a space to be classed as a market, they are places we take for granted, where we meet and bond, browse and buy.

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Peter Murray

The Society’s recent sold-out walk with Blue Badge Guide Angela Morgan visited the rejuvenated markets of Spitalfields, Brick Lane and over to the foodies’ paradise of Borough Market. Hannah Murphy went along.

“It was market-morning. The ground was covered, nearly ankle-deep, with filth and mire; a thick steam, perpetually rising from the reeking bodies of the cattle, and mingling with the fog, which seemed to rest upon the chimney-tops, hung heavily above… Countrymen, butchers, drovers, hawkers, boys, thieves, idlers, and vagabonds of every low-grade, were mingled together in a mass…” (Oliver Twist)

On Saturday 27th January, we gathered around the Goat Statue in Bishop’s Square, Spitalfields, to learn about the significant role that street markets have played throughout London’s history. Our tour guide, Angela Morgan, quickly explained that just as a goat climbs a mountain with grit and perseverance, the residents and stall holders of Spitalfields have had to fight to remain culturally relevant in a society that is constantly changing. We discussed rapidly rising business rates and rents, which were pushing SME’s out of the area in search of more affordable rents.

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Peter Murray

 

For our first talk of 2018 the Society had something slightly different – trespassing on London Historians’ patch, Dr Peter Jones of the Centre for Metropolitan History gave a ‘straight’ history talk on the public street markets of the 19th century. However – as with so much about the capital – what happened then has had an influence on now, and several of the features of the market and the lessons of their growth have parallels for today and the planning of the future.

Peter looked at how the rapid growth of the capital in the 18th and 19th centuries meant that a large proportion of the new suburbs – particularly those new areas beyond the traditional confines of the City walls and the City of Westminster – were some distance from the existing licensed, regulated, ‘fixed’ markets, and needed traders (either barrowmen or dealers carrying produce on their backs) to supply food at the lowest prices. This saw the growth of unlicensed street markets in areas such as Whitechapel, Strutton Ground, ‘The Brill’ (Somers Town), the New Cut and Whitecross Street. These were often of some considerable size – over 200 stalls were counted in Whitecross Street on a typical day.

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