London's first markets were street markets. Some of the capital's 100 modern markets continue to operate from the street. Most remain on the sites where they first flourished centuries ago.
Petticoat Lane originally marked the boundary between the City of London and the County of Middlesex. Because of different administrative and financial controls, trading developed between the two areas.
From Elizabethan times, pigs were sold in the street then known as Hog Lane. The name Petticoat Lane grew from the area's association with Huguenot silk weaving in the 18th century. The market developed with the growth of the local Jewish community in the late 19th century. A Sunday market arose in response to Jewish observance of the Saturday Sabbath.
Victorians renamed the street 'Middlesex' to reflect its former status as a county boundary and to remove the (then rather shocking) reference to women's undergarments. However, the old name persisted and Petticoat Lane market was officially recognised in 1927.
Petticoat Lane remains one of London's most famous street markets. It continues to thrive, specialising in inexpensive mass-produced clothing as well as general retail goods.
Brick Lane Market
In medieval times, bricks and tiles were manufactured at Brick Lane. A market developed there from the 18th century, when farmers sold livestock and produce just outside the City in Middlesex County.
Club Row, north of Brick Lane, was formerly a market for dogs cats, reptiles and birds. Rats were also sold as live bait for the dogs that were used in the fighting pits attached to many East End pubs.
Brick Lane is a sprawling East End institution. The market reflects the diversity of its local community, with Jewish bagel shops and Bangladeshi curry houses found next to Indian sari silks, and cockney stalls.
Columbia Road Flower Market
Columbia Road opened on 28 April 1869 as a general produce and fish market. It was part of Baroness Burdett-Coutts' plan to supply food to the impoverished East End. An impressive Gothic market building, financed by Burdett-Coutts, was constructed on what later became Old Market Square.
The venture, however, was short-lived. Wholesalers preferred to supply existing markets such as Billingsgate and Covent Garden, and costermongers preferred street-based trading. Attempts to convert the building were unsuccessful. Derelict by the First World War, it was demolished in 1958.
The street market flourished. From 1927, traders were licensed to deal in specific goods, on specified sites. Over time, Columbia Road developed into today's specialist flower market.
Walthamstow Market claims to be the longest daily open market in Europe. Over 450 stalls stretch around half a mile down Walthamstow High Street.
Costermongers set up unofficial stalls in the High Street, then Marsh Street, in the 1880s. Walthamstow was officially recognised as a street market in 1936.
Walthamstow Market retains some cockney traditions while reflecting influences from the community's diverse cultures. South Asian foods and Caribbean music are sold alongside one of London's most famous pie and mash outlets, L Manze, which opened in 1929.
Portobello Road Market
Portobello Road began as a fresh produce market. It grew up in the 1880s in the poorest part of North Kensington. In the 1930s, the market was confined to the north end of the road.
The antiques trade arrived at Portobello Road in the late 1950s and boomed in the 1960s. By the end of the 20th century, the market comprised over 2,000 antique stalls.
Although famous for its Saturday antiques market, Portobello Road's fruit and vegetable stalls continue to serve local residents during weekdays.
Berwick Street Market
The earliest reference to trading in Berwick Street dates to 1778. An unofficial market grew rapidly throughout the late 19th century, its growth closely linked to that of Soho's Jewish community.
Berwick Street was officially recognised as a street market in 1906. The small fresh produce market in the heart of Soho is now central London's only surviving fruit and vegetable market.
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