London was once home to numerous large open-air specialist markets, where restauranteurs, caterers, and shopkeepers would come to buy fresh food. Over the years problems of transport and space within a congested city center have led to many moving to other, more accessible locations. For example, the fruit, vegetable, and flower market that are quite near to Hotel Edward Paddington are now to be found at New Covent Garden in Battersea rather than at its original historic home in Covent Garden. But there is one market that has not moved – and early mornings transform an area better known for its financial dealings.
Head for Smithfield, in the city of London, to discover a lost world of buying and selling fresh food. To do so, you need to get there early, for by ten am it is empty and all activity ended. Work starts here early in the morning around 3 am. Refrigerated lorries arrive with vast amounts of fresh meat, which is eagerly snapped up by traders and caterers. All too frequently, that meat will be served in top hotels and restaurants later in the day. Also, there are a couple of hotels in Central London with parking where you can be a resident and visit Smithfield with family and friends.
Guided walking tours starting at 7 am are provided by City Guides and focus on the development of the market and its meat trading heritage. For a wider look at the history of Smithfield try the guided walks led by the Museum of London. These walks cover a wider range of topics including the story of the Bartholomew Fair and the more ghoulish history resulting from the area’s role as a place for executions, often by burning alive, under Henry VIII and other Tudor monarchs.
Although meat trading has taken place at Smithfield for centuries, it was only in the nineteenth century that a specific building was erected. It is this building which is the focus of celebrations this August Bank Holiday, as it is now 150 years old. It is quite a spectacular building complete with dragons sitting on its roof.
Smithfield 150 is set to be a massive birthday party involving giant puppets, parades, roller disco, street games and fairground rides as well as a pop-up market and birthday cake!
Explore the Bartholomew’s Carnival of Delights, and watch an eye-catching carnival parade but before that, you need to check out for some budget hotels near Paddington Station UK. Relax at the Comedy Club, or listen to the music provided by brass bands, Electropop, Cowbells, multicultural bands. A spectacular sheep procession is being promised, along with exciting new talent from all over London. Equally enjoyable is the Horrible Histories section within the celebrations, as it offers an opportunity to discover countless characters associated with the area, while the Kino Van – a traveling cinema on wheels – will be showing archive film relating to the activities of the Suffragettes demanding votes for women.