London as a city probably has more landmarks and features instantly recognisable world wide than any other city in the world. While some of these are major buildings and monuments some are items of a rather more mundane nature. Everyone knows about London’s red buses, its black taxis and the Tube.
Anyone who has visited London, or the UK generally, will also be familiar with the countries famous red telephone boxes and letter boxes. Indeed both items have been exported worldwide and can still be seen in active service in most of the few remaining outposts of Empire. I must say my recent sighting of the red letter letter box at Georgetown’s Post Office on Ascension Island rekindled nostalgic memories as I journeyed towards the UK.
I digress, not unusual for me.
Here I want to tell you a little about the British telephone box or more specifically about the red ones commissioned by the General Post Office (GPO) which managed telecommunications prior to its split into British Telecom and the Post Office in 1981 and the privatisation of British Telecom in 1984.
The first thing to note is that while they all look the same they are not.
In 1921 Britain's first standard kiosk (phone box), the imaginatively named Kiosk No 1 (abbreviated to K1) was designed by the GPO itself. While there were over time a few K1 models it was not especially well liked and a competition was held to find a replacement.
A number of designs were received and the then recently established Royal Fine Art Commission was summoned into action. The Commission was formed in May 1924 by an Act of Parliament with the purpose of examining questions of "public amenity or artistic importance referred to it by government departments and other...bodies".
A design by Giles Gilbert Scott was selected by the Commission and K2 came into being. Over 10,000 K2’s were installed mainly in London and of these just over 200 remain today. The remaining K2’s are Grade 2 heritage listed structures. My main photograph is of a K2. K2s were costly to produce and not rolled out beyond London. The prototype K2 box can be found in the entrance arch of the Royal Academy at Piccadilly. It is made of wood. Is it real? I don’t know.
Various other largely unsuccessful models ( again imaginatively named - K3, K4 and K5) followed the K2.
In 1935 King George V celebrated his Silver Jubilee and to commemorate this the GPO commissioned the now Sir Giles Gilbert Scott to design a new kiosk - K6 eventuated. Approximately 60,000 of these were installed across the UK and around 10,000 exist and it is this K6 which has come to represent the famous red telephone box. Picture 2 attached shows two K6s outside the British Museum. Just over 2,000 K6s are heritage listed, of which more than 90%, are actually K6 variants.
The last K6s were installed in 1968. Prior to the breakup of the GPO in 1981 K7 came out (only a handful installed) as did the rather plain K8 (around 11,000). British Telecom produced a rather pedestrian offering in 1985 and installed around 100,000 up to 1996 by which stage the advent of mobile phones and increased vandalism had sounded the death knell for further public phones of the street variety, at least. What remains now seem to be more there for street decoration than making telephone calls.
It is possible that you will come across a black telephone box when you visit London (picture three). These are in fact painted K6s. In the 1980s British Telecom sold a number of kiosks to the private sector but retained its monopoly on the red colour and thus had them painted black.
Should this review have excited an interest in Britain’s red telephone boxes you should start your further research here - http://www.the-telephone-box.co.uk/. Additionally this site includes detailed pictures pointing out the distinguishing features of various boxes for any prospective phone box hunters among you.
Shepherd's Bush market is in an area in London called Shepherd's Bush. I stayed in a hotel close to this area for 2 weeks in May 2010 so I visited this market and area often. This is an ethnic market, with many Indian and Muslim shops and outside stalls. There are also African stalls there. I expected this market to be much bigger though. There are household goods, clothes, halal food and many jewellers there. Many of the shops had a strong mouldy smell, no offence.
The market is in between Uxbridge Road and Goldhawk Road, both roads are lined with shops, mostly Indian shops and Arabic shops and there are so many Indian fabric stores in Goldhawk Road that I have nowhere in London seen so many shops of this kind in one street. Uxbridge Road has got many Indian stores as well and very good Arabic food stores.
In 2012 I stayed for 1 month and 3 weeks in Colliers Wood in South-London, and the next stop to Colliers Wood is Tooting Broadway, I saw the same thing there, Indian stores all over. And then again in other areas, f.ex. Bethnal Green in East-London.
Shepherd's Bush is a very lively area and much cheaper than down-town London. But after they built Westfield shopping centre in this area in 2008 the prices are going up.
I stayed again in Hammersmith/Shepherds Bush in February and March 2013, love it here.
The market is open everyday (closed Sundays) from 9:30-17. Thursdays 9:30-13:30.
There is a market in Elephant & Castle by the shopping center, called "The Elephant & Castle market" - there are others in this area, but this is the market where I go often and have bought quite a few items. F.ex. 2 pullowers, the design of which I love. I had bought 2 exactly the same in Punky Fish in Notting Hill and thought the price was a bit steep, but bought them anyway. Only days after to find the same pullowers in Elephant & Castle market half the price - so I bought 2 more. That is why I own pullowers in 4 different colours ;)
The market is located in a "cavern" by the shopping mall, which incidentally is the oldest mall in London. The first photo I add is of the red elephant by one of the entrances of the shopping mall. There are so many ethnic stores in the mall, to me it looks like an indoor market. I remember visiting it 25 years ago and it looked different back then. And of course there are the usual stores here, Tesco Metro and Poundland etc.
The underground is by the Mall and behind it is the train-station, so this is quite a busy area.
Both the market and the mall make this area quite an interesting place to visit. If it weren´t for this roundabout from Hell with the tunnels that lead to everywhere and nowhere - but that is another tip for warning and dangers in London ;) Of course Londoners are used to it, but for us visitors, who don´t live here it can get quite confusing.
The market is open on Monday-Saturday from 10:00-18:00. Sunday: closed.
One of the markets at Portobello Market is Portobello Green Market. It is located at the northern end of Portobello Market - further away in Notting Hill. I always enter the market from Notting Hill Gate station and walk down to the Portobello Green Market - which takes one all the way through the main market area.
At Portobello Green Market one can find a great selection of vintage and new clothes. There is an excellent selection of vintage fur-coats here, with quite a few stalls specialising in vintage fur. There are more than 800 stalls here and it can get really crowded.
On different days of the week there are different stalls here. On Fridays mostly vintage, antigues, retro. On Saturdays designer clothes, accessories and fashion. On Sundays clothes, books and CD´s and records.
This is such a lively area of the market. Walking further north is the end of the market with vintage clothe´s stalls lining the street. Opposite Portobello Green Market is Acklam Village Market, with more vintage clothes and the restaurant stalls.
Walking down the path, with myriads of stalls, to leave the market, one can get stuck and has to follow the crowds. But one is stuck anyway and the long walk up to Notting Hill Gate station takes quite a while, so I sometimes leave Portobello Road Market here behind Portobello Green Market.
Opening hours: Friday-Sunday from 07:00-18:00.
I first visited Petticoat Lane Market in 2004 and since then it has been one of may favourite markets in London. We were buying wholesale back then and the prices at this market were very good. There are also good stores which sell watches wholesale here by the market, I have bought some beautiful watches here.
It is a very busy market - especially weekends, then it is almost impossible passing through here. On weekdays the market is pretty empty and one can see the numbers in the street, where the stalls are supposed to be. But if one walks further down into the market there are still some good stalls there weekdays, from Monday-Friday. Especially around Wenthworth street, stretching downward to Commercial Street. I have bought way too much in this market through the years ;)
On sale here are mostly women´s clothes and accessories, bags and jewellery, but also men´s and children´s clothes and music, shoes etc, etc. I love how lively and vibrant this market is. In one stall there is always blaring music, mostly Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson and some old-timers.
The main market is open on Sundays from 09:00-15:00. There is a smaller market on weekdays from 10:00-14:30. This is quite a big market stretching into several streets and down into Commercial street and Aldgate East. In the section by Aldgate East leather goods are on sale.
Petticoat Lane literally means undergarment lane - Petticoat Lane doesn´t exist anymore - it was changed to Middlesex Lane in 1846 - referring to an undergarment market was not thought to be proper ;)
This is a typical London market, it is not at all upscale like the market at Notting Hill. Here mostly black women and men shop - and of course everybody else - I can be seen there quite often on my visits to London.
I remember a word of advice in one of Planxty´s tips - don´t eat here, there are several stalls which sell food here - Fergy advices against them as they might not be approved by the sanitary inspection. But one night Fergy took me through this area and told me that one of the stalls here were amongst the best ones in London. He was referring to Tubby Isaac´s seafood stall - which allegedly is amongst the best seafood stalls in London (see my second photo taken in the dark).
I went on a guided Jack-the-Ripper tour and the guide took us through Petticoat Lane Market in the dark as they were finishing off - and showed us a house which might have been the home of Jack-the-Ripper - in the middle of the market.
Old Spitalfields Market is one of London´s attractions. It is a beautiful inside market located in a beautiful Victorian market hall.
In AD 300/400 on this site was a Roman cemetary. In 1682 the first market opened here, John Belch, a silk thrower, of which there were many in this area, was the first one to open a food market here by King Charles II. For centuries it was a food market, with meat, fish, fruits and vegetables. In 1991 the wolesale fruit vegetable market moved to a new market, New Spitalfields market in Sherrin Road in Leyton, London.
There is a market here every day of the week, but on weekends it is just crowded, one can almost not visit it or enjoy it as it gets so crowded. And seeing that it is a famous market then it is a bit more expensive than other markets I have visited.
Here one can buy various things, lot of clothes stall, both new, designer and vintage clothes, antique and various items. Also collectior´s items, f.ex. records.
There are a lot of restaurants here and cafés as well.
The entrances to the market are called gates and I am sure the names of the gates have got a lot of history, Huguenot Gate, John Balch Gate, Spitfire Gate, Punchinello Gate, Sherrin Gate, Montagu Gate, Wollstonecraft Gate and Mulberry Gate.
In 2011 Old Spitalfields market got the prize of "Best Private Market" in the UK.
Opening hours: Sunday-Friday from 09:00-17:00. Saturday: 10:00-17:00. On Sundays there is a general market here as well. On various week-days there are various markets, on Thursdays: antiques and vintage clothes and on Fridays: art and fashion.
Every major city has its foremost shopping drag: from Miracle Mile in Chicago to Omote Sandou in Tokyo, it seems as though big box stores need to congregate in one major thoroughfare, lest they be left out of the commercialist frenzy. London’s answer to this is Oxford Street, a long, curling artery that joins Piccadilly Circus with Tottenham Court. Oxford Road is far from being the heart of London’s fashion district. Indeed, if it’s high fashion that you’re looking for, you are best placed in Saville Row, where traditional sartorial houses meet the likes of Louis Vuitton and Gucci. Meanwhile, the city’s edgier and more experimental trends are more likely to be found farther afield, in whatever district is the latest hotspot for the hip and trendy. Oxford Street, nevertheless, offers the stalwarts of modern commercial culture: Adidas, Levis, Zara and other such brands that cut into the pockets and the wardrobes of the largest section of the population. While it can be fun to spend some time ambling along the street during the day, evenings and weekends can become so busy as to make the wide thoroughfare claustrophobic.
Grosvenor Square may look like an ordinary park, but it’s probably the most well watched and guarded parks in all of Metropolitan London. It is here that you will find the American Embassy, as well as a few other diplomatic presences. While the Square was first constructed in the 1710s as one of the most prestigious residential addresses in London, it has also been the site of an American presence of one kind or another since the 1780s, when John Adams first took up residence here as the American representative to the Court of St. James. Since there, there have been two American Embassies in the Square (the first one is now part of the Canadian Embassy) and the Square was used as Military HQ for DD Eisenhower during the Second World War. The Square will soon lose this distinction with the opening of the new American Embassy on the south side of the Thames, although the residents of Grosvenor Square are more than likely to be relieved, given the security implications of an American legation.
I have noted elsewhere on my London pages about the way the street markets of the city are changing. Some have gone completely, like what used to be the Greenwich outdoor market whose site I walked past last week have gone altogether. Others, like the Broadway Market&L* in Hackney have been gentrified almost beyond recognition. I suppose I shouldn't complain really as these traditional London landmarks are undoubtedly better still going, even if modified, than not there at all.
Some years ago, I spent about 19 months living in Soho, right in the heart of the West End and I regularly used to buy the fruit and veg for my evening meal in Berwick Street Market. I hadn't been round Soho for a while but I recently found myself wandering fairly aimlessly and passing a few old haunts when I found myself back here. Berwick Street was always predominantly fruit and veg although it had an excellent fish stall and a couple of other things. It has changed a little. there appear to be less stalls, I didn't see the fish stall and there are a few additions like a luggage stall that never used to be there. It was, however, still going which must be a good thing in the face of the huge challenge of the big supermarkets. It has been here since 1778 so let's hope it can stay around for a while yet.
One tip for you. If you go there later in the afternoon, maybe from about 1530 onwards, you can get some good bargains as the vendors want to get rid of the stuff which they cannot sell the next day and would have to throw away anyway.
Borough market sprawls underneath the railway viaducts at Southwark and best visited 2 am to 8 am on weekdays if you want to see the wholesalers but the retail market is only open Thurs-Sat at different times. It is basically a wholesale and retail food market, but you will find that it is a real treat to visit on Sundays when there are gourmet food stalls selling cheeses, breads, cakes and other products from distant countries. On Sundays most of the market is closed except for 70 stalls mainly catering to visitors (10 am - 5 pm). When i visited last Sunday there were performers in medieval costumes dancing from that era. I believe that it only opened recently on Sundays but judging by the number of tourists in attendance it will be a permanent feature.
nearest station London Bridge, mainline trains and Jubilee and Northern underground lines
I have lived in the East End of London for well over 20 years and have seen the most remarkable changes in that period. Areas that were once regarded as being rough and working class are now becoming "gentrified", as I believe the term is. Along with housing prices rising dramatically and becoming well beyond the reach of local people, all the appurtenances of yuppiedom are evident all over London.
One example of this is in the various street markets and Broadway Market in Hackney is typical of the breed. Where once merely fruit and veg, fish and the basics of life were sold, there are now stalls selling artisan bread, handmade jewellery, exotic spices and just about everything else under the sun. You really have to see it to believe it.
The eclectic nature of things extends to the numerous food outlets here with many of them reflecting the various immigrant groups that now make up a large proportion of the East End populace. The photo I have chosen here is of a Ghanaian eatery and although I didn't sample the fare it certainly looked very tasty. Vegetarians and vegans seem to be particularly well-catered for (pun absolutely intended).
As well as shopping, the market seems to be a meeting place for a predominantly young crowd and the local coffeeshops and gastropubs do a roaring trade all day. As you can see from the image, even the busker attracted a sit down audience in the street although, in fairness, he was an excellent msuician.
I may have sounded a bit negative at the start of this tip and I suppose like many of my age I do tend to think back, perhaps with rose-tinted spectacles, to a different time. I do, however, realise that change is inevitable and the old markets were in serious danger of dying out, unable to compete with the large supermarket chains. That Broadway and other markets have re-invented themselves and are thriving can only be a good thing. The market runs every Saturday from 0900 - 1700 and is very well worth a visit.
As the road is closed off, it is suitable for wheelchair users and there is an area in the local schoolgrounds for people to take children and relax a little.
I did take rather a lot of photos when I was there so I have created a Broadway Market travelogue. Please feel free to have a look for a better idea of what you may find here.
One of my favourite places in London is Borough Market, and no one who has been here can say that English food sucks! Under the railway arches at London Bridge, the market sprawls out in all directions, even if it has been threatened by the much needed railway expansion in later years. It is only open Thursdays (11am-5pm), Fridays (Noon-6 p.m), and Saturdays (9 a.m-4 p.m), but then it is an excellent place to get free breakfast if you are on a budget, since you get to try produce at most stalls. Just be prepared to come early or queue since it is a very popular market with everything from organic Somerset apple juice, Yorkshire butchers, and fantastic fish, to foreign things such as Sicilian delicacies, Belgian beer (no testing on that one!) and Spanish ham. There are several famous restaurants attached to the market too but then you need to book in advance. Otherwise, just sit down at one of the fast food places in the market, serving a range of various food. There are also plenty of pubs in the Borough area. The nearest toilets are in Southwark Cathedral which could be good to know since you are likely to stroll around here for a good while if you like food (and yes, they are used to market visistors in the church). Check the very useful homepage for special events and cover on specific traders.
update, April 2011.
I like to try and keep my tips up to date so here is the latest news. If you want to get to see Whitchapel Market, you had better be quick. Information from a well-informed friend of mine is that the market is being closed and relocated to the Middlesex Street area. The reason? you won't believe this but our local street market, which has been there for many decades, is being removed so they can build a cycle lane for visitors to the 2012 Olympics.
This makes me incandescent with rage. I do not know a single Londoner who actually wanted the Olympics in the first place, I certainly didn't. We are all paying a fortune via our Council Tax for facilities none of us will ever use, all so some politicians and "worthies" could indulge in their usual self-aggrandisement.
The major road junction to the East of the market is also now closed to pedestrians without a huge detour so I had to escort a 91 year old lady I know home the other day as she was terrified to try and negotiate it. Why? So a few people, and it will be a few people, can cycle happily to a two week event. This is clearly ridiculous. The so-called "legacy", new jobs etc. are a joke.
OK, end of rant, but get to the market soon before it dies to enhance the "green" credentials of a few people.
Whilst there has been a market on Whitechapel Road for many, many years, like most things it changes all the time. I know the market was initially fruit and vegetable based but now it is very diverse, and in many respects reflects the very multicultural nature of the local area. I hope the photo gives some sense of this. Stalls with sarees sit side by side with fruit and veg stalls, fish stalls, stalls selling Bollywood videos, unlocking mobile 'phones, selling just about anything you care to name, in fact.
I would not recommend the clothing or footwear as much of it is of very poor quality, although some of the fruit and vegetable stalls are great. They carry some really exotic items that you would be hard pressed to get in a supermarket, and the stall holders will even tell you how to cook them if you don't know. I also like the fish stall near Brady Street (pictured) as you can get some unusual Asian fish, again not readily available in a supermarket.
As a people watching exercise, it is absolutely superb.
The market is open from about 0900 to about 1600 every day, except Sunday.
Spitalfields Market takes place in Crispin Place E1 and is one of the famous London Markets. There are over 70 stalls that range from contemporary and vintage fashion, music, bespoke children's toys, jewellery and accessories and interiors for the home. The market is surrounded by a host of boutiques, food shops and restaurants. On various days they also have a fine food market (opening times below) selling cheeses, pastries, antipasti, chutneys, breads and much more. If you like the idea of going to a market but not all the untidiness and bustle then this is a much more clinical way of doing it. Spitalfields was redeveloped in the 80s and 90s and has lost some of the feel you would expect from an East End market. But it's still a great place to come to find that 'one off' and it's all under cover so you can come rain or shine. Sundays are the best days to visit.
Open 6 days a week, Sunday is the largest market day.
Monday to Friday, 10am - 4pm
Sundays, 9am – 5pm
FINE FOOD MARKET
Open 3 days a week
Every Thursday, Friday and Sunday from 10am - 5pm
The market has been here since 1756 but there has been a market around this site since the 13th century.
You can find a wide range of vegetables, fruits, cheeses, meats, seafoods.
It is faired that it faces extinction from time to time due to developments.
It s situated by london bridge and is open on fridays from 12pm to 6pm and saturdays from 9am to 4pm.