Smithfield is the last surviving meat market in the central London, under constant threat of destruction by property developers.
Smithfield has been associated with meat since at least Saxon times, when a cattle market gave birth to a thriving community outside London’s city walls. St. Bartholomew’s Fair evolved alongside it, and rapidly gained a reputation for drunkenness and violence.
The encroaching city soon overtook the stink, blood and muck and led to its closure in 1855, and the cattle moved to Islington. A watered down meat market survived, and Sir Horace Jones was commissioned to build the ironwork roof in 1866.
Regular upgrades followed in the 1960s and 1990s, and Smithfield now employs around 1,000 people selling 150,000 tonnes of meat each year.
The City of London has recently announced that the Museum of London will move to West Smithfield in 2021.
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