Report - Smithfields Market, London 28/11/07

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si o doom

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Nice to get some free time for once and even better to nail somewhere I'd been after for a while! I met up with Syme for a welcome to London explore/recce/drink! First up was a quick recce around The old parts of Smithfields markets. The two buildings closest to Holborn viaduct make up the Fish market and the General market.

These buildings are currently under threat of demolition and replacement with glass box high rise offices! I suggest those who would like to know more about what they plan to do should read here

Some info on the history of the place.
Meat has been traded at Smithfield Market for over 800 years, making it one of the oldest markets in London. A livestock market occupied the site as early as the 10th century. In 1174 the site was described as:

a smooth field where every Friday there is a celebrated rendezvous of fine horses to be sold, and in another quarter are placed vendibles of the peasant, swine with their deep flanks, and cows and oxen of immense bulk.

The first extension of the meat market took place between 1873 and 1876 with the construction of the Poultry Market located immediately west of the Central Market. A rotunda was built at the centre of the old market field, with gardens, a fountain and a ramped carriageway to the station beneath the market building. Further buildings were added to the market in later years. The General Market, built between 1879 and 1883, was intended to replace the old Farringdon Market located nearby and established for the sale of fruit and vegetables when the earlier Fleet Market was cleared to enable the laying out of Farringdon Street in 1826-30. A further block (also known as Annexe Market or Triangular Block) consisting of two separate structures (the Fish Market and the Red House) was built between 1886 and 1899. The Fish Market was completed in 1888, one year after Horace Jones' death . The Red House, with its imposing red brick and Portland stone façade, was built between 1898 and 1899 for the London Central Markets Cold Storage Co. Ltd.. It was one of London's first cold stores to be built outside the London docks and continued to serve Smithfield until the mid-1970s.

At the end of World War II, a V2 rocket struck at the north side of Charterhouse Street, near the junction with Farringdon Road (1945). The explosion caused massive damage to the market buildings, extending into the railway tunnel below, and over 110 casualties. Horace Jones' original Poultry Market was destroyed by fire in 1958. The replacement building was designed by Sir Thomas Bennett in 1962-1963, incorporating a dome roof of 225 feet.

Smithfield is one of the few of the great London markets not to have moved from its central site to a location further out with cheaper land, better transport links and more modern facilities (compare with Covent Garden and Billingsgate). Since the market is designed to supply inner city butchers, shops and restaurants with meat for the coming day, the trading hours are from 0400 - 1200 every weekday.

The General Market (1883) and the adjacent Fish market and Red House buildings (1898), part of the Victorian complex of the Smithfield Market have been facing since 2005 a threat of demolition at the behest of their owner, the Corporation of London, and replacement with office blocks. Property developers Thornfield Properties plc plan to demolish the historic site and build a seven-storey office block, offering 350,000 sq ft of office space with a retail outlet on the ground floor. Several campaigns, promoted by English Heritage and Save Britain's Heritage among others, are being run to raise public awareness on this important part of London's Victorian heritage. In March 2005, Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell announced the decision to give listed building protection to the Red House Cold Store building, on the basis of new historical evidence qualifying the complex as "the earliest existing example of a purpose-built powered cold store". The destiny of the adjoining buildings, in particular the General Market, remains unclear. Development plans have been put on ice after Government planning minister Ruth Kelly decided to call a major public inquiry to be held in 2007. The start date for the Public Inquiry for the demolition and redevelopment of the General Market Building is Tuesday 6 November 2007
As we were checking the place out, we were given a chance to get in that beggeed to be taken, once inside, my first thought was the floors, I had heard that one of the reasons behind the propsed demo was that the floors were in a bad state, I could see no obvious signs of trouble and only solid concrete throughout. Nothing arty as time could have been limited and I wanted to get some proper shots of the place. I'll be getting in touch with English heritage to see if these shots help their case for keeping the site standing too :)

Fish market





General market building





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