Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Billingsgate Fish Market

Since the early ninth century fish has been sold from this site as Billingsgate Quay was used by fisherman to land and sell their catch in the nearby streets.  For almost 1,000 years the fish market remained at Billingsgate. In 1327 Edward III granted a charter prohibiting any rival markets setting up within 6.6 miles of Billingsgte, this being the distance a trader could be expected to travel, set up, sell and return home in one day.

In 1699 an Act of Parliament was passed allowing a 'free and open market' and all types of fish to be sold in Billinsgate except eels. This was restricted only to Dutch fisherman in recognition of their help in feeding Londoners during the Great Fire of 1666.

The current building was reconstructed by City Architect Horace Jones, who also created the design for Tower Bridge, and built by John Mowlem. It was opened by the Corporation of London in 1877 and is now a listed building.

The market finally moved to a larger site at Poplar in 1982 and the site was developed as a trading hall for the banking sector. There were fears that the building would collapse once the refrigerated arcades of brick and cast iron, permanently frozen for hundreds of years, were de-frosted. Fortunately the building survived unlike the fortunes of the developers as the building has remained empty and never used as a financial trading hall due to one economic crisis or another.

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