Hidden behind the world famous Borough Market is one of London’s most historic quarters. The streets South of London Bridge team with 2,000 years of history. Borough Market is an excellent place to start to explore this history.
The Romans landed on the Kent coast in the 1st century AD. They then built some roads, as Romans always did: Watling Street, and Staines Street. These met at the bottom of Borough High Street, which was a raised bit of land across boggy marshes. This led to the Romans’ wooden bridge over the Thames, London Bridge. London Bridge remained London’s only bridge across the Thames for the next thousand years.
Borough was the gateway to London, where goods and people arrived from the continent and Kent, the garden of England. Unsurprisingly, a market was set up. How old this market is no one is quite sure, although we know by early medieval times there were complaints about it blocking the route to London Bridge. After moving around in the local area, in 1756 following an Act of Parliament the market found its permanent home. The Victorian period saw the market grow rapidly, but its heyday as a wholesale market was the 1930s, selling goods to London’s shops and restaurants. Even in the 1990s Borough was still a wholesale market and if you arrived after 9am it would be closing up. Its reinvention in the 21st Century as a global foodie hub builds on this rich history and it shows no sign of ending!