Saturday, 7 August 2010

Columbia Market

Columbia Flower Market is in the East End of London on Columbia Road.

Originally built as a Victorian gothic folly by the banking heiress Angela Burdett-Coutts in 1869 it opened as a fish market. It was never popular with the costermongers as she imposed rules on working on Sunday and expected them to “be sober, be vigilant, be pitiful, be courteous”. It was never going to work and they started trading in the street. The building was demolished in 1958.

The East Ends interest in flowers is thought to stem from the immigrant Huguenot community. They were also fascinated with bird song and there is a pub in Columbia Road called The Birdcage.

The market originally opened on a Saturday but this changed to Sunday due to the growing Jewish population. This allowed Covent Garden and Spitalfield traders to use the market to sell off their left over’s. The area went into decline during the war as food production took priority and the area was due for demolition in the 70’s. Fortunately it was saved by the local’s and is once again a thriving Sunday market.

The Victorian houses and shops are now home to a diverse range of traders that include coffee shops, vintage clothing shops and art galleries.

This must be the only place in London where you can buy lavender for a “fiver with free bees thrown in”.

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