Paintings of ten London Street Markets part 1 of 2

16 Dec No Comments

I have been painting London scenes for many years and has a particular interest in the ever changing face of the street markets.

Many have been on the same site for over 500 years, and some for just a few years. To survive and thrive however each has to adapt to the unpredictable shifts the metropolis throws at them. This can be cultural changes in the local populous or literally fire, pestilence and famine.

These markets are not just about selling apples and pears, they tell a real story of street life in London. Do visit them if you can. The opening times are listed though do check first prior to a visit just in case.

Broadway Market

A painting of Broadway market, London

Broadway Market is a great East End gem, and has a great atmosphere. This is not just because of ‘new money’. Any market throughout time which is well used will generate its own vital energy; it’s in the human DNA.

This modest street between the Regent’s Canal and London Fields is full of independent shops, pubs, pubs and cafes. Down the middle on Saturdays you will find fresh fruit, veg, fish and meat. As well as great street food, art books and even vintage clothing.

The Market Café which is featured here is a lovely place to spend an afternoon. A great view of the canal as well.

The Street & Schoolyard Markets are open 9am – 5pm every Saturday, with shops, bars and restaurants open throughout the week.

Nearest transport
Closest London Underground station:

  • Bethnal Green

Railway stations:

  • Cambridge Heath

See more about Broadway Market here

Berwick Street Market

A painting of Berwick Street Market, Soho, London

Berwick Street in Soho has been there since 1703 and it wasn’t long before local traders figured out that this small street would be a good spot to sell fruit, vegetables and general goods. And despite the ever shifting tides of London life, the market, here in Berwick Street, is selling those very same things today. That’s over 250 years.

Berwick Street and its adjoining streets’ has a very long history with the music business. A small example being that at the end of the street where it joins Brewer Street, through an alley, is Madam Jo Jo’s. In 1964, David Bowie’s first band, Dave Jones and The King Bees, played here when it was called The Jack of Clubs. And it was that night David Bowie got his big break.

At the very same time, T-Rex front man, Marc Bolan, worked on his mother’s stall in the market in the 1960s. I wonder if he sold David an apple or two?

It is open Monday to Saturday from 9am until 6pm
Closest London Underground station:

  • Piccadilly Circus

See more about Berwick Street Market here

The Real Food Market on the Southbank

A painting of the Southbank Centre Market

Markets have been set up along the Thames for thousands of years so it should be no surprise, to see one tucked just behind The Royal Festival Hall on the Southbank. It can be tricky to find for a first time visitor, though well worth the journey once located.

The main big sellers are ready to eat food. You will find the very best of British and foreign cheeses, breads and wines too. There is also a pretty good line in hot food as well

The market is lovely in the summer and totally rammed on Bank Holidays. It is quieter in winter, as you may expect, though blooms into life again at Christmas. This to me, is the best time to visit this part of the Southbank. All along the river from Westminster Bridge down to Waterloo Bridge and beyond is a vast Christmas Market complete with traditional circus rides for children. Even the most cynical humbug would fail to be charmed by it all. I know as I am a bit of a humbug myself.

The market takes place on site each weekend, including bank holidays.

  • Friday 12 noon – 8pm
  • Saturday 11am – 8pm
  • Sunday 12 noon – 6pmSouthbank Centre Square

Nearest transport
Railway stations:

  • Waterloo

Closest London Underground station:

  • Waterloo

See more about the Real Food Market here

Spitalfields Market

Painting of Spitalfields Market

The rather odd name of Spitalfields goes way back to the late 12th century after the hospital and priory of St Mary’s Spittel. Communities always gather around religious centres and, what was a very rural community at the time, began to settle about 800 years ago.

The Royal charter for a market proper was set up by Charles II in 1682 as London began to spread out following the fire of 1666.

Due to road congestion Spitalfields food market was moved to Leyton in the 1980’s and the old buildings now ply their trade in numerous ways.

All week during the day though have speciality days on:

  • Thursday: they have an Antiques Market, all under cover offering a whole range of collectables and antiques.
  • Friday: they mainly sell clothes and art. On the first and third Friday of the month is record fair including rare and collectable vinyl.
  • Saturday: generally selling affordable vintage clothing, as well as some designer goods
  • Sunday: tend to sell a little bit of everything.

Nearest transport
Railway stations:

  • Liverpool Street Station

Closest London Underground station:

  • Liverpool Street

More about Spitalfields market here


Brick Lane Market

A painting of Brick Lane Market

There has been a market on Brick Lane since the 17th Century and was then known as ‘The Truman Markets after the old brewery that used to be on situated at number 91. In those days, it was just a Sunday market to cater for the large Jewish community that used to make up the majority of this part off London’s population.

Since that time, the Jewish population has been replaced by the Bangladeshi community who mainly occupy the south end of the Lane with a proliferation of curry houses to tempt the passers-by, earning its local nick name as Banglatown.

The north end of Brick Lane however is very different. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was not a single Bangladeshi eatery on the north side. You can, however, get almost everything else the world has to offer in terms of cuisine. You will find Chinese, Japanese, Lebanese, Jewish, and even the occasional British eatery here.

In fact it is so crammed with differing varieties of food that, in an effort to gain a unique selling point, one place has opened that just sells breakfast cereal. ‘Cereal Killer’ is the second building from the right in my painting. Right next to Bacon Street, which rather amused me!


Great shops open all week though the key market day is

  • Sunday 8am – 2pm

Nearest transport
Railway stations:

  • Liverpool Street Station
  • Shoreditch High Street

Closest London Underground station:

  • Liverpool Street
  • Aldgate East

See more about Brick lane Market here

See Part two of the Ten London Street markets here

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