Rebels, Radicals and Rough Justice: Historic Clerkenwell

    11 Nov 2015
    Clock 60min      Length1mi
    8 ratings

    Smithfield Market

    Pay wave

    Stop here for a while to admire the Smithfield Market building, across the road ahead of you.

    When the cattle market was closed, Horace Jones was commissioned to build the largest meat market in the world. He was the City architect, and his most famous structure is Tower Bridge. As you can see he designed a veritable cathedral to meat. The purple and green colour scheme used new chemical paints invented by the Victorians.

    At each corner of the market building you can see towers with green domed roofs. These used to be pubs, open all night to cater for the market workers - known as Pullers, Pushers and Bummers.

    European Union regulations stopped the traditional way of handling meat. Now it uses state of the art facilities for the receiving, storing and despatching of meat and poultry. The huge opening in the centre of the structure is the Grand Avenue, a wide roadway roofed by an elliptical arch with decorations in cast iron. The statues above it are of female figures. There are two on this side and two at the other end. They represent the four greatest cities in Britain at the time - London, Edinburgh, Liverpool and Dublin. Ireland was part of the United Kingdom at that time and only gained independence in 1921.

    Now turn left and keep walking, with Smithfield Market on your right.

    The market still operates from 2am. You will probably see very little activity, unless you are up here before 8am. The market is mainly for businesses buying in bulk, but the public can come and buy meat. Quality and prices compare favourably with shop bought meat.

    Continue straight.

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