Markets and Street Life, London
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
Each Sunday there is a second hand book market held under Waterloo Bridge from 10am to 7pm which is worth attending as there are many stalls with 1000's of books for sale divided in to categories. Some books are rare and command prices of up to £100. Most novels are priced at around £3-£4.
Southbank Xmas Market was a delight to visit and if you happen to be here at Xmas i thought that it was better than the X,mas Market in Hyde Park.
The stalls are beautifully made with wood and even kangaroo and ostrich burgers were available.
The market runs annually from mid November to 24th December and has mainly a German theme. Some of the food looked delicious but probably a little expensive to take advantage of the tourists. Stalls were selling Xmas decorations, food and there was even a carousel for the children. You could also have your kid's photo taken with Santa. Most of the people operating the stalls appeared to be foreigners.
Just east of the London Eye it is quite enjoyable to watch the street performers, some of them were excellent. particularly a group of three or four guys doing acrobatics, gymnastics and contortionist. There were quite a few guys standing around as living statues who spry themselves with coloured paint usually silver or gold and stand for ages without moving.
AND of course they all have their hat or some other arrangement to collect donations, Usually if your kid has his photo taken by a living statue juts drop some money in his hat, but the acrobats who i watched were collecting pounds and pounds from the foreign tourists and it would not surprise me that they could collect well over £500 a day.
Visit the Market in the courtyard of St. James's Church, Piccadilly that has different items on offer on different days of the week. Take a look at the church, one of the finest designed by Christopher Wren and funds raised by the market helps maintain the church. The market became a permanent fixture since 1984 and has goods from all over the world. The food market is held on Mondays from 11am-5 pm. Antiques and collectables on Tuesdays from 10 am -6 pm . Arts and Crafts from Wednesday to Saturday 10 am-6 pm.
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.
That's actually one of the more famous markets as its located in Covent Garden.
Lots of Antques, old jewels and lots of other gaggets.
You can definetly haggle there, dont accept the prices as they tell you.
Mondays: Antiques: 5:00am - 6:00pm
General Market : Tuesday - Friday: 9:30am-6:00pm.
Weekends: Saturday and Sunday: Crafts 9:00am-6:00pm
Spread over two streets, more than a thousand stalls make up Petticoat Lane Market.
This well known East End market has been operating since the 1750s, and is named after the petticoats and lace sold there by the Huguenots who came to London from France following their religious persecution..
The street was renamed Middlesex Street in 1830 by the Victorians who wanted to avoid references to women's underwear, however the name had stuck.
The market specialises in new goods ranging from running shoes to kitchen utensils.