Three of London's major historic food wholesale markets are likely to move location, and form a 'mega-market' in Dagenham.
Smithfield meat market in Farringdon, Billingsgate fish market in Poplar and New Spitalfields fruit and veg market in Hackney will shift to Barking Reach in Dagenham, east London — City of London Corporation has announced. That's pending a public consultation and a private bill passed by Parliament.
Though the concept of commingling the three markets has been mooted for years, the decision reached on an exact location (the Barking Reach site was actually acquired by the City of London Corporation in December 2018) brings it one large stride closer to reality.
Says Catherine McGuinness, Policy Chair at the City of London Corporation:
The City's three world-leading wholesale food markets... have been serving our citizens for hundreds of years, and we are committed to their future for London.
We intend to use this new site to offer more modern facilities and space for traders to grow so that they can continue to support the capital’s food economy.
Our number one priority is to maintain a top-quality market environment serving London.
But the news will come as a blow to any Londoner nostalgic or thrifty enough to force themselves up in the early hours of the morning, for a spot of unique grocery shopping among the hubbub of these three great bellies of London.
There's been a market of some description on the site of Smithfield Market for 800 years, the current Horace Jones confection opening in 1868. The other two markets have more experience with moving: Billingsgate moved in 1982 from Lower Thames Street to Poplar, while Spitalfields shifted to Hackney in 1991.
A public consultation on the markets' futures will launch soon. The City of London Corporation hasn't yet announced a date when it would intend to move the markets, but hopes to have a Bill passed late 2020.