Saturday, March 13, 2010

Postcard from Smithfield

I spend some time each month working in central London. My office lies just outside the boundary of the City itself but sometimes I become one of the few overnight residents of the Square Mile.  So the landmarks I note are perhaps different from those the daytime population might navigate by.  By night, the offices are dark and quiet, the pavements no longer crowded by suited commuters.  Something different is going on.

Smithfield Market is one of the oldest markets in London, and it's still trading.  By the middle of the evening, when I'm wandering towards my bed for the night, lorries are congregating outside.  As I sleep, the meat they carry is unloaded and sold - the entire operation concluding while I sleep so that, when I'm on my way out again, all that's left is the clean up operation.

I cross the road here: where a line of black, red and white bollards mark the City boundary from the rest of London, and I'm back in the world where I work - a nondescript office block (from the roof of which regular readers have seen the sun rise).  The medieval heart of London could generate a million postcards but I preferred to show you this: the bit where some real work goes on, even if I'm often fast asleep just round the corner.


altguy3 said...

Ah... another of your leitmotifs: sleep... I mean markets. Which is where I should be now (asleep that is, not going to a market. It's late, I'm incoherent).

Great to see a new blog entry!


Lexi said...

It's a lovely building - look at the lovely dragons in your photo, the splendid wrought iron and the stonework. Nice little huddle of six red telephone booths, too.

I often whizz by there on my bike.

postcardsfromk said...

Hello Guy and Lexi
It is a lovely building, isn't it? I am fond of the silver dragons and often walk through that way even though the Farringdon Road would be more direct. Far less interesting to look at though.

Thank you to the red pen of a supposedly retired English teacher. The grammatical error has now been corrected. Unless anyone else has spotted more!


Timberati said...

Meat is sold there? It looks more like a ferry terminal than a market.

I love the "Look Left" sign. That's ingrained in me as being from a country where we drive on the right.

postcardsfromk said...

Hi Norm
Either side of this avenue is where the meat trading goes on. Don't worry - the actual bits where meat is handled have been updated since the 19th century. But you know us Brits: we love to hang on to our heritage and if we've got a bit of Victorian ironwork we'll cling to it. And paint the dragons silver.

It's a one way street out the front there, hence the instruction to look the way a pedestrian might least expect! What we need from Lexi is an assurance that she would only ever be whizzing past on her bike in the correct direction, and not send me flying as I cross the road.

There are information panels about the market's history along the walls of the avenue. The one which causes me most concern is the description of how hangings were also held on the site. Way too much scope for carcass confusion in that scenario...