Situated now in East London, Billingsgate Fish Market is the United
Kingdom's largest inland fish market. It takes its name from Billingsgate, a ward in the
south-east of the City of London, where the riverside market was originally established. In
its original location in the 1800s, Billingsgate was the largest fish market in the world.
Billingsgate Wharf, close to Lower Thames Street, became the centre of a fish market during the
16th and 17th centuries, but did not become formally established until an Act of Parliament in
1699. In 1849, the fish market was moved off the streets into its own riverside building, which was
demolished circa 1873 and replaced by an arcaded market hall (designed by City architect Sir Horace
Jones) and built by John Mowlem Co. in 1875. This building, known as Old Billingsgate Market, is
now used as a corporate events venue.
In 1982, the fish market was relocated to a new 13-acre (53,000 m²) building complex close to
Canary Wharf in Docklands. Most of the fish sold through the market now arrives there by road, from
ports as far afield as Aberdeen and Cornwall. As of 2005, a review of the London wholesale markets
was underway which may lead to the closure of Billingsgate (and the Smithfield meat market), as it
is considered by some that it would be better to have a smaller number of markets all selling a
full range of fresh produce, rather than separate specialist markets.
The infamously coarse language of London fishmongers made "Billingsgate" a byword for crude or
vulgar language.One of its earliest uses can be seen in a 1577 chronicle by Raphael Holinshed,
where the writer makes reference to the foul tongues of Billingsgate oyster-wives.
The Modern Billingsgate Market:
Each trading day at Billingsgate Market offers buyers an opportunity to see the largest selection
of fish in the United Kingdom. Daily arrivals from the coast and overseas ensure a continuity of
fresh supplies and with some 54 merchants trading in close proximity in the Market Hall,
competition is keen. In addition to such a wide selection of fish and fish products, the Market
offers buyers a comprehensive service with tenants dealing in cooking oils, potatoes, trade
sundries and specialist restaurant and catering supplies.
A carrier service is available serving London and the Home Counties and arrangements can usually be
made for supplies to be dispatched to most parts of the country. Billingsgate Market is thus able
to offer an excellent one stop service to the busy trade buyer. We are also open to the public.
Billingsgate Market is open from Tuesday to Saturday. Trading commences at 05:00hrs and finishes at
My Experience at theMarket:
Our daybegins at 5:00 am. We must arrive early to avoid the crowd of people visiting the market in
the tradding days.
It is fantastic to see a crowd of people mingling, vendors, customers, employees (be careful with
the pallet lifters and trolleys they are everywhere and the only that you can hear is "Mind you
Back") and others.
The variety of the products are so great that it is difficult to choose, the ideal is to leave home
with at least a small idea of what you'll buy, otherwise it will be lost, as I was.
Besides the quantity of fish and seafood offered, the prices are extremelylower than in normal
markets. You can buy small portions or boxes of products
In addition to fresh products, some merchants sell products prepared as crab legs.
The market serves a huge variety of restaurants throughout London. We can find products from around
the world, fresh or frozen you can be sure to always find a good option in fish and seafood. They
are cheap and healthy which brings benefits to the body and of course for the pocket.
In addition to the products the market stalls also offers restaurants where you can, before or
after doing your shopping, relax and enjoy a varied menu from the Traditional English breakfast to
For us only two coffees because it is too early to consume high calories :)