London could soon have one of the largest fresh produce markets in Europe
Recent plans revealed by the City of London could see three of London’s most historic food markets merged into a single massive site. With plans to move at a 100-acre of wholesale venue, Billingsgate, Smithfield and New Spitalfields could become London’s newest fresh produce market.
The City Corporation’s markets committee has agreed “in principle” to consolidate the markets but the proposals would need Parliamentary approval. The City said the plan has been developed in order to “to secure their continued operational success”.
Billingsgate fish market first started on the bank of the Thames in the 16th century before moving out to Poplar in 1982. It is the United Kingdom’s largest inland fish market as an average of 25,000 tonnes of seafood products are sold through its merchants each year. The Market complex covers an area of 13 acres and is entirely self-contained. The ground floor of the building comprises a large trading hall with 98 stands and 30 shops, including two cafes; a number of individual cold rooms; a 1,500 tonne freezer store; an ice making plant and 14 lock-up shops used by processors, catering suppliers and merchants dealing primarily in trade sundries, non-perishables, poultry and potatoes.
Smithfield is the largest wholesale meat market in the UK and one of the largest of its kind in Europe. Located within the Square Mile of the City of London it is housed in three listed building in Farringdon. Sir Horace Jones who also designed Tower Bridge is also the designer of the buildings that have been a historic home for nearly 1,000 for the Smithfield market. It is a place packed with history. There has been a livestock market and yet is as modern as tomorrow with its state of the art facilities for the receiving, storing and dispatching of meat and poultry.
New Spitalfields Market was custom-designed for the fresh produce and flower business in the early 1990s and still boast trading facilities that rank as second to none.
Since relocating in 1991 from the older historical site where traders worked through the night in tight spaces on public roadways, they have diversified the offer at their site in Leyton, East London, to reflect Britain’s consumers changing palates and preferences.
Traders, customers and tenants will be consulted on the proposal as well as lobby groups Historic England and the Victorian Society, since the markets not only supply meat neighbouring and Michelin starred restaurants but also constitute a fragment of traditional and the city’s cultural identity.
According to the City’s Corporation, the new site would also have an apprenticeship school for fishmongers and butchers.
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