Old Billingsgate Fish Market dates all the way back to the 9th-century when fishermen tied their boats up on the banks of the Thames. They sold their goods in the streets, and over the years wholesalers and retailers were erected to inspect their day’s catch.
This ramshackle arrangement stayed in place until 1877 when the Corporation of London decided to better the premises and open up a trading hall. Problems persisted however, as the traffic had difficulty negotiating the small streets of The City.
As the pin-striped suits moved in to the Square Mile they frequently complained about the fishy smells and
foul-mouthed fishwives so close to their place of business, and in January 1982 a decision was taken to move the market to West India Docks on the Isle of Dogs.
The old brick premises with its cast-iron pillars was then converted into commercial properties.
Billingsgate is said to derive from an old king of the Britons called ‘Beling’. When he died his remains were placed inside an urn outside Beling’s Gate – a popular entry to the docks.
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