On Tuesday 23rd January Eric Reynolds of Urban Space Managementspoke 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.
We were treated to case studies of the regeneration and revitalisation of various London markets Camden Lock, Borough Market, Covent Garden and Spitalfields Markets. He delved into the work involved in transforming the spaces to economic and welcoming hubs.
Camden Lock appears to have been a passion project for Eric when he started the market there in the 1970s, with the intention of the market being an open place where people would feel welcome whether they bought anything or not. Breaking barriers and providing a new space and type of market where “nothing you needed” was sold, where young artists and crafts people could sell their products. The market was an engine which provided the cash flow for new building and development on the site, with food stalls and concerts helping to generate income.
We learnt that the best way to save a historic market building is to first clean and maintain the space to make sure it works before finding a viable economic reuse of buildings and spaces, something to bear in mind when looking at regeneration projects, scrub up and see what happens!
Eric’s passion for urban development and regeneration was palpable, he spoke with conviction, his knowledge and experience shining throughout the whole talk. One parting gem was his statement that markets are “like weeds, they tend to survive”; something we all hope to be true as “trade is what makes London Great”.