Old Spitalfields Market is a covered market in Spitalfields, just outside the City of London. It is in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. The closest tube station is Liverpool Street. There has been a market on the site since 1638 when Charles I of England gave licence for flesh, fowl and roots to be sold on Spittle Fields, which was then a rural area on the outskirts on London. After the rights to a market had seemingly lapsed during the time of the Commonwealth, the market was refounded in 1682 by Charles II in order to feed the burgeoning population of a new suburb of London. Market buildings were sited on the rectangular patch of open ground which retained the name Spittle Fields: demarcated by Crispin Street to the west, Lamb Street to the north, Red Lion Street (later subsumed into Commercial Street) to the east and Paternoster Row (later known as Brushfield Street) to the south. The existing buildings were built in 1887 to service a wholesale market, owned by the City of London Corporation. Spitalfields Market was extended westward to Steward Street in 1926, destroying the northern extensions of Crispin Street and Gun Street in the process.

Old Spitalfields Market LogoBeing at the centre of a revival in the area, the eastern end of Spitalfields retained its old charm in the Horner Square and Horner Buildings, which are Grade II listed buildings. These market buildings were designed by George Sherrin for the last private owner of the fruit and vegetable market, Robert Horner, built between 1885 and 1893. The original Victorian market buildings, the Market Hall and roof have been restored and Old Spitalfields Market is now one of London’s top markets.

The market square of Old Spitalfields Market is a popular fashion, arts and crafts, food and general market, open seven days a week, but it particularly lively on weekends. In January 2011 Old Spitalfields Market received the ‘Best Private Market’ award from Nabma, the National Association of British Markets Authorities. It has been a general market now for 23 years and Market Manager, Eric Graham, has been there for the duration of that time. Radical changes were made to the market 12 years ago when an office block was built on the site, therefore downsizing the market from 470 stalls to 170. Ballymore then purchased some land and added some more buildings/ units around the market, which were eventually brought and turned into restaurants.

Old Spitalfields Market 2The restaurants and market work hand in hand, both drawing people to the area. Customers who come to look round the market will often then have something to eat at one of the restaurants and vice versa, people who come to eat at one of the restaurants will then look round the market. There is also a market situated near to Old Spitalfields Market, Petticoat Lane Market, which has been there longer and at first was worried they would be losing custom and footfall due to the arrival of another market.

However this was not the case, as Eric explained that they would be bringing more people to the area and offering different products, therefore increasing the footfall for both markets Old Spitalfields Market hosts a General Market every Monday to Wednesday from 10.00am to 5.00pm; a Antiques and Vintage Market every Thursday from 9.00am to 5.00pm; a Fashion and Art Market on Fridays, as well as a Record Fair on the first and third Friday of each month from 10.00am to 4.00pm;

Themed Markets on Saturdays from 11.00am to 5.00pm, this when outside companies can hire the market for the day and are allocated 50 stalls and then every Sunday is a General Market running from 9.00am to 5.00pm.

The Sunday General Market currently has 170 traders with 80% being regulars and 20% casuals. As you walk round the market it is easy to see why it is so popular, it offers a great variety of products, many of which are made and designed by the traders.

Old Spitalfields Market 1All of the stalls look great and customers are made very welcoming, with the traders more than happy to help and offer advice. Old Spitalfields Market have also recently brought back a competition they use to run a number of years ago called ‘Market Stall of the Week’. The competition which runs every Sunday is judged by Eric and one of his colleagues, they look for a trader that interacts well with customers and also has a great looking stall. The winner is announced between 4.00pm – 5.00pm on the Sunday afternoon and the winning trader then receives FREE rent the following Sunday. This competition really does benefit everyone, it gives traders the chance to win FREE rent for a day, which means they are all competing against each other, making their stalls look as good as possible and interacting with customers. The customer’s benefit as the traders have enhanced the look and image of the market, which in turn means the market staff as benefited because there is a fantastic atmosphere with happy traders and shoppers.

Each Sunday the market also has electronic footfall counters in operation on each of the entrances from open till close giving them an idea of how many people are visiting the market and when the peak times are etc. Between the months of January – April it is £70.00 for regulars and £80.00 for casuals on the Sunday General Market. Between the months of May – December it is £85.00 for regulars and £95.00 for casuals on the Sunday General Market.

If you are interested in becoming a trader at one of Old Spitalfields Markets or wish to find out any further information contact the office on 0207 247 8556 or email ericgraham@wellingtonmarkets.co.uk.

Market Manager, Eric Graham, told MTN,
“I still think we are a catalyst for a lot of what goes on in and around the area. We’re still a diamond in the heart of the city. Much copied but never bettered!”

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Telephone: 0207 247 8556