London Markets: Ancient and Modern

What are these? They are known as the London Fields Flower Sellers. You will find them and also sculptures of sheep in London Fields park in Hackney, east London. They were created in the 1980’s by local artists Freeform Arts Trust and local schoolchildren to remind us of the area’s history.

London Fields used to be on the edge of London and what is now the park was grazing area. Drovers, who had brought their animals from miles away, would stop to give their animals a rest and a chance to fatten up before the final part of their journey to Smithfield Meat Market in the City of London. Streets around – Sheep Lane, Lamb Lane – still remind us of the flocks of sheep which would have passed through here.

Also farmers from the surrounding area would bring in their produce (fruit, vegetables and flowers) for sale in London markets and, in particular, the local market which took place in the street now called Broadway Market which leads directly south from the park down to the Regent’s Canal.

From the 1970’s the market and local shops went into serious decline and there were even plans to demolish the street to build a feeder road for the Blackwall Tunnel. However, thanks to the efforts of two local shopkeepers a campaign was started to save the market and the area. Eventually in 2004 a new high quality Saturday street market started and it has been an amazing success. There are 150 stalls offering high quality goods including bread, cheeses, meat, flowers, vintage clothes and a great variety of street food. There is such demand for a pitch that the waiting list is currently closed.

I always intend just to browse but can’t resist the temptation and come away laden with delicious food. Come and see the modern day street market at the end of our new Regent’s Canal walk.


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