Information and history
The retail market operates on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10am to 5pm, Fridays from 10am to 6pm, and Saturdays from 8 am to 5 pm. The wholesale market operates on all weekday mornings from 2 a.m. to 8 a.m.
The present market, located on Southwark Street and Borough High Street just south of Southwark Cathedral on the southern end of London Bridge, is a successor to one that originally adjoined the end of London Bridge. It was first mentioned in 1276, although the market itself claims to have existed since 1014 "and probably much earlier" and was subsequently moved south of St Margaret's church on the High Street. The City of London received a royal charter from Edward VI in 1550 to control all markets in Southwark (see Guildable Manor), which was confirmed by Charles II in 1671. However, the market caused such traffic congestion that, in 1754, it was abolished by an Act of Parliament.
The Act allowed for the local parishioners to set up another market on a new site, and in 1756, it began again on a 4.5-acre (18,000 m²) site in Rochester Yard. During the 19th century, it became one of London's most important food markets due to its strategic position near the riverside wharves of the Pool of London.
The present buildings were designed in 1851, with additions in the 1860s and an entrance designed in the Art Deco style added on Southwark Street in 1932. A refurbishment began in 2001. Work to date includes the re-erection in 2004 of the South Portico from the Floral Hall, previously at Covent Garden, which was dismantled when the Royal Opera House was reconstructed in the 1990s. The original Convent Garden building was listed and the resited portico was Grade II listed in 2008.
- Borough Market circa 1860
- Art Deco 1932 Southwark Street entrance
- South Portico from the Floral Hall (erected 2004)
The present-day market mainly sells speciality foods to the general public. However, in the 20th century, it was essentially a wholesale market, selling produce in quantity to greengrocers. It was the main supplier, along with Covent Garden, of fruits and vegetables to retail greengrocers shops. Amongst the notable businesses trading in the market were Vitacress, Lee Brothers (potato merchants whose signage can still be seen in the market), Manny Sugarman, Eddy Robbins, Verde, AW Bourne and Elsey and Bent. JO Sims, the main importer for South African citrus fruit (Outspan), were also located in the market.
Stallholders come to trade at the market from different parts of the UK, and traditional European products are also shipped over and sold. Amongst the produce on sale are fresh fruit and vegetables, cheese, meat, game and freshly baked bread and pastries. There is also a wide variety of street food on sale for lunchtime visitors who flock to the market.
The market is a charitable trust administered by a board of volunteer trustees, who have to live in the area. The market ensures high standards of produce by employing a food quality panel of impartial experts who ensure that the taste, provenance and quality of foods sold are all regularly measured and maintained. Small traders are supported to meet these standards.
Borough Market has become a fashionable place to buy food. It has been promoted by British television chefs and has been used as a film set. Notable films with scenes filmed in the streets around the market include: Bridget Jones's Diary (2001), Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004). It also appeared in the Savage Garden music video for "Hold Me". In 1998, the artist Anna Best staged an event in Borough Market entitled "The Wedding Project'" commissioned by Tate Modern. As reported by the Evening Standard, the market is now available to hire for private events.
Railway viaducts and the Thameslink Programme
From 1860, the railway operating companies desired to extend services from London Bridge Station into new stations at Cannon Street and Blackfriars in the City and link to the West End at Charing Cross Station. This required a viaduct, but legally, it was impossible by the 1756 Borough Market Act for the Trustees to alienate their property. The compromise was that only a flying leasehold was given to the railway company for the permanent way, but only for as long as a railway operates on it. The Market continues to trade underneath the arches of the viaduct. Each time there is a railway expansion requiring widening of the viaduct, the Trustees receive a full compensation payment. The last major such expansion was the 1901 extended bridge widening; the 21st-century works programme will also make its contribution. These windfalls have assisted in the finances of the market without any loss of amenity to it.
As part of the Thameslink Programme project, a large number of listed buildings in the Borough Market area have been altered or demolished, potentially destroying the historic fabric of the area. This includes parts of the market itself and much of the area appearing in the aforementioned films. This was immensely unpopular locally and became a contentious issue in the resulting public inquiry, which resulted in delays to the project. Eventually, the inquiry inspector was satisfied with the subsequent plans to restore as much of the market and surrounding area as possible. The overriding need to remove one of the worst bottlenecks in the national rail network and improve transport options considerably over a large portion of London meant that he accepted that some damage to the fabric of the market and surrounding area was unavoidable and justified in order for the scheme to achieve its objectives.
The market building on Bedale Street south-side has had its upper floors removed, as has the Wheatsheaf public house on Stoney Street for the new railway bridge crossing over them. The remaining floors have been re-occupied. The old Market glazed roof on Stoney Street has been re-instated and much improved. The most significant loss was the Smirke Terrace, Nos 16-26 Borough High Street, demolished in 2010. It was a Grade II listed building designed by the notable classical architect Sir Robert Smirke and completed in 1832. The most interesting survivor is The Globe Tavern public house at the junction of Bedale Street and Green Dragon Court, which is passed immediately to its north by the 1900 viaduct and the new bridge immediately to its south-side but with entirely unrestricted access to all sides at pedestrian level.
- "Food markets in London". Visitlondon.com. Retrieved 2012-09-06.
- Goldberg, Lina (24 February 2013). "10 of the world's best fresh markets". CNN Travel. Retrieved 24 February 2013.
- Rydaeva, Anastasia. "London Markets: Borough Market". History Geek in Town. Retrieved 21 March 2016.
- The History of Borough Market Archived August 8, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. Borough Market website
- London's Street Markets - Borough Market London's Guide
- "Borough Market". On London Time. 2011-05-30. Retrieved 2012-09-06.
- "Borough Market Tourist Info". London-traveltips.com. 2011-12-07. Retrieved 2012-09-06.
- "About Us - History". Borough Market. Retrieved 2012-09-06.
- "RESITED FLORAL HALL PORTICO AT BOROUGH MARKET". National Heritage List for England. Historic England. Retrieved 3 December 2016.
- "About Us - The Trustees of The". Borough Market. Retrieved 2012-09-06.
- Julian Clinton. "Location Information - Borough Market". Where Did They Film That. Retrieved 2012-09-06.
- "Borough Market sets out its stall as a venue to get married". Retrieved 6 Feb 2014.
- "Save Borough Market Area Campaign: FAQ". Retrieved 2008-08-15.
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