A City Markets & Trade Walk

Route & what to see


A 2 mile circular walk looking at markets and trading in the east of the City. Instructions are given from Monument Station but the route also passes near Tower Hill, Fenchurch Street, Aldgate and Aldgate East.

Exit the station and go down Fish Street Hill, passing the Monument.
Fish Street Hill, which lined up with old London Bridge, was an authorised place for the sale of fish. In the 15th century temporary stalls were replaced by merchants' houses.

Cross Lower Thames Street towards St Magnus the Martyr Church. Go to the left of this following Thames Path signs then go left along the riverside path.
Billingsgate was a main wharf for fishing vessels to land their cargoes. By the time of Elizabeth I other goods were traded from the site. The shed-like buildings were replaced in the 1850s by a market house by JB Bunning. This was soon inadequate and the current building by Sir Horace Jones was opened in 1877. Trading moved to the Isle of Dogs in 1982 and the Grade II listed building now has other uses. Further along the Custom House has been rebuilt several times. Its most famous feature is the Long Room.

Just past the Custom House go left into Lower Thames Street. Go up the steps ahead then right along Byward Street. Cross over to Trinity Square.
The Port of London Authority was established in 1908 to control trade on the tidal Thames and its docks. They occupied the large building in Trinity Square designed by Sir Edwin Cooper until 1971, when the docks began to close.

Continue around Trinity Square, passing Trinity House.
Trinity House is responsible for navigational aids.

Left along Coopers Row. Under the railway arch cross Crutched Friars and continue along Lloyds Avenue.
At the end are the splendid premises of Lloyds Register of Shipping, designed by Collcutt in 1899-1901. The Society printed the first Register of Ships in 1764 to give underwriters and merchants an idea of the condition of the vessels they insured and chartered. Ship hulls were graded by a lettered scale (A being the best), and ship's fittings (masts, rigging, and other equipment) was graded by number (1 being the best). Thus the best classification was "A1". The Register, with information on all sea-going, self-propelled merchant ships of 100 gross tonnes or greater, is still published annually.

Right at Fenchurch Street then left through Hartshorn Alley (between Slug & Lettuce and Coral Bookmakers - easy to miss) into Leadenhall Street.
At number 56 (to the left) is
the London Metal Market and Exchange which traces its origins back to 1571 and the opening of the Royal Exchange. Business was later conducted in coffee houses and the Company was founded in 1877. Trade in copper, tin, or any other metal listed on the LME has to be conducted through an LME member. The LME issues daily detailed figures on how many tons of each metal is in its warehouses. There is constant inter-office trading, but a lot is still done by open-outcry in the Ring. There are morning and afternoon sessions, where each of the nine metal contracts are traded in two blocks with a five-minute session for each contract. It is possible to view these proceedings [more info].

Right at Leadenhall Street continuing along Aldgate and Aldgate High Street. Left at Goulston Street continuing along Bell Lane.
The market here has evolved from Petticoat Lane.

Continue along Crispin Street then right at Brushfield Street.
The London Fruit and Wool Exchange building was designed for the Corporation of London by Sydney Perks in 1929. There are controversial plans to redevelop the site.

Cross to Spitalfields Market.
A licence for trading was first issued in 1682. The market was purchased by ex-porter Robert Horner in 1856. He added new buildings (1885-93) which were taken on by the City of London Corporation in 1920. The modernised market, dealing with fruit and vegetables, re-opened in 1928 but moved to Temple Mills in 1991. Horner's Grade II listed buildings were restored to serve as a general market. The 1920s extension was redeveloped to the designs of Norman Foster with offices, restaurants, shops and the Traders' Market.

Return to Brushfield Street and go south along Gun Street. Right along Artillery Lane.
There is a fine Georgian shop front at number 56.

Left at Sandys Row then continue to left along Middlesex Street.
Petticoat Lane, renamed around 1830, was an old established market dealing in second hand clothes.

Right along Harrow Place then right at Cutler Street.
Cutlers Gardens was redeveloped by Standard Life Assurance Co in 1978-82. The former warehouses were built for the East India Company in the late 18th and early 19th century to house their imported goods. Plaques on the buildings feature items that would have been stored.

Continue into Devonshire Square and exit at SE corner into Houndsditch. Go left here then right along St Mary Axe.
The Baltic Exchange was responsible for freight chartering and ship purchase, having originated in a coffee house. Their premises in St Mary Axe were built in 1900-3 and extended in 1956. In 1992 they were damaged beyond repair by an IRA bomb. The site is now occupied by 'The Gherkin' and the Baltic Exchange has relocated to number 38 as much of the business is now done by telephone or online.

Cross Leadenhall Street into Lime Street.
Lloyd's was founded in the 17th century coffee house of Edward Lloyd, frequented by merchants, marine underwriters, and others associated with shipping. Initially it exchanged information and latter provided marine insurance. A purpose built building was begun in 1925 and an extension opened in the 1950s. The site was redeveloped in 1979 with the striking building by Richard Rogers & Partners.

Right through Leadenhall Market.
This takes its name from a mansion with a lead roof where 'foreigners' (ie from outside London) were allowed to sell their goods from the 14th century. The estate was sold to the City Corporation in 1411 and its granary became a general market. It was expanded when it was rebuilt after the Great Fire. The present buildings of 1881 were designed by Sir Horace Jones.

Left along Gracechurch Street.


Old Spitalfields photos [

london-footprints.co.uk 2012