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Billingsgate Fish Market: Wikis


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The original open air Billingsgate Fish Market in the early 19th century. Boats delivered fish to this small inlet of the Thames and business was conducted on the quayside.

Situated now in East London, Billingsgate Fish Market is the United Kingdom's largest inland fish market. It takes its name from Billingsgate, a ward in the south-east of the City of London, where the riverside market was originally established. In its original location in the 1800s, Billingsgate was the largest fish market in the world.[1]

Billingsgate Wharf, close to Lower Thames Street, became the centre of a fish market during the 16th and 17th centuries, but did not become formally established until an Act of Parliament in 1699.[2] In 1849, the fish market was moved off the streets into its own riverside building, which was demolished circa 1873 and replaced by an arcaded market hall (designed by City architect Sir Horace Jones) and built by John Mowlem & Co. in 1875.[3] This building, known as Old Billingsgate Market, is now used as a corporate events venue.

In 1982, the fish market was relocated to a new 13-acre (53,000 m²) building complex close to Canary Wharf in Docklands. Most of the fish sold through the market now arrives there by road, from ports as far afield as Aberdeen and Cornwall. As of 2005, a review of the London wholesale markets was underway which may lead to the closure of Billingsgate (and the Smithfield meat market), as it is considered by some that it would be better to have a smaller number of markets all selling a full range of fresh produce, rather than separate specialist markets.

The infamously coarse language of London fishmongers made "Billingsgate" a byword for crude or vulgar language.[4] One of its earliest uses can be seen in a 1577 chronicle by Raphael Holinshed, where the writer makes reference to the foul tongues of Billingsgate oyster-wives.

Billingsgate Market is open from Tuesday to Saturday. Trading commences at 0500hrs and finishes at 0830hrs.

See also


  1. ^ Dunton, Larkin (1896). The World and Its People. Silver, Burdett. p. 24.  
  2. ^ 'William III, 1698: An Act for making Billingsgate a Free Market for Sale of Fish. [Chapter XIII. Rot. Parl. 10 Gul. III. p.3. n.4.', Statutes of the Realm: volume 7: 1695-1701 (1820), pp. 513-14] accessed: 9 March 2007.
  3. ^ History of Billingsgate accessed 21 May 2007
  4. ^ Word of the Day Archive - Monday June 12, 2006 accessed 21 May 2007

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