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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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