New Spitalfields Market

Immediately northeast of Liverpool Street Station and just off the edge of the city is the locality of Spitalfields. The area has a long and rich history which is well documented elsewhere (see links), but suffice to say for the purposes of this page that it is centred on the white spire of Hawksmoor's Christ Church, built after the Great Fire of London, and that directly opposite the church a market flourished, specialising in fresh fruit and vegetables. The provision of a purpose-built market building in the 1890's saw Spitalfields Market eatsblished as London's premier market for fresh produce.

The market flourished for over sixty years but lack of space to expand led to it moving out to new purpose-built premises in Leyton and by 1991 the old market had been abandoned by the fruit and vegetable traders, but in their place it took on a new role. The shops around the perimeter became occupied by a cluster of independent stores, bistros and bars, while the central space not only continued as a general-purpose market but also hosted sports events, live performances and alternative fashion shows, to name but a few uses to which it has been put. During the 1990's the old market established a reputation as a vibrant and slightly quirky place; it became fashionable, as did the nearby immigrant quarter of Brick Lane.

It was perhaps inevitable that the developers would move in. Within the last few years the place has been radically altered and the western half of the old market building has come down, to be replaced by a new development in the curent City idiom of gleaming steel and glass. The eastern half remains exactly as it was and is still an interesting collection of bistros, boutiques and craft shops of great individuality. The western half, meanwhile, was a revelation when the wraps came off. The developers have echoed the old market by providing significant areas of space, some roofed and some open; the enclosed space is surrounded by restaurants and shops and includes a beautiful glass-roofed arcade, while the open area is landscaped with gardens, trees and water features and has already become a magnet for nearby office workers at lunchtime.

The images of New Spitalfields Market seen here also include the neighbouring residential flats to the north, which reflect the growing smartness of the area as a whole. The locality is only a few hundred yards from my own workplace and I took these pictures on a recent lunchtime stroll. Inevitably there were a great many people about and it was difficult to get some of the shots as well composed as I would have liked. Nevertheless I hope they give a good impression of one of London's newest smart developments.

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Back to Borough of Tower Hamlets index page


   Spitalfields website
   Discover Spitalfields
   Spitalfields Festival
   Visit Spitalfields
   Map of Spitalfields and aerial photos by

This page last updated 15th June 2006