Tag: food

How food built London: follow the drover’s route from the Royal Agricultural Hall to Smithfield

From the Royal Agricultural Hall, Islington to Smithfield, walk the drover’s route to market. A new guided walk looks at the way in which food impacted on the design of London.  This walk, the first of three, looks at meat and water and follows the blood-smattered path from Upper Street, down St John’s Street across Cowcross Street and onto market.  To find out about the next walk, leave a comment on the contact page.

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Strange days in Smithfield

A great view of the grand arcade in Smithfield Market.  What will happen to it?  The controversy arising from plans to replace the General Market with a new office block focused attention on the destruction of a part of the market which was no longer in use.  The General Market is now subject to a redesign which will largely retain the existing building.  An interesting question is the long-term future of the main part of the market, currently in use for storage and sale of refrigerated meat.  Smithfield is now the last-remaining central London wholesale-only market.  Borough has a small wholesale market but is now mainly retail; Billingsgate has moved to Poplar, Covent Garden to Nine Elms and Spitalfields Flower Market to Ilford.  Billingsgate and Nine Elms are now facing major redevelopment because they now find themselves in the middle of new building projects.  Once Crossrail is complete, Farringdon will the a highly connected railway station linking most of London’s airports.  It is difficult to see how Smithfield can survive in such a valuable part of the City doing something that does not particularly need to be done in the heart of London.  Once it had an underground railway delivering cattle direct to the market; that disappeared during the blitz and was never rebuilt.  Now it is dominated by early morning lorries.  It is a bit of a transport disaster in the midst of what will one day be an amazing transport interchange.

More retro stuff

Brought to you by the same people who gave us the red rusty chairs, this clock in the newly-unmodernised Benugo in Clerkenwell is a fascinating find.  It is almost certainly from a radio or recording studio.  It is manufactured by IBM and is very beautiful but what is it doing here? The restaurant, like the one at the Museum of London and the Barbican, has gone slightly retro.  The walls are bare, the furniture distressed in a 1960s LCC sort of way.  I am still bemused by this approach to design.  If your house were furnished like this, it would suggest a fondness for flea-markets or a hankering after the days when Portobello Road sold junk rather than antiques but this is corporate stuff and takes a lot of careful calculation.  Maybe this is big society design, locally-sourced, slightly nostalgic and a little bit damaged.

School days at the Barbican Centre

Work on the overhaul of the Barbican Centre was completed nearly two years ago.  The changes to the building were significant – a new bridge was installed to connect Silk Street and Riverside entrances; bold graphics were used to sign each of the floors and main venues; and the pointillist walls and carpets were replaced with bold oranges and reds. The improvements were major and muscular, not only making it easier to move around the building but visually stunning.  So a great surprise to see the way in which the Riverside Cafe has recently been transformed into a 1950s style canteen cum classroom.  School chairs, a blackboard, American diner-style benches and these light fittings based on pickle jars, have created a retro atmosphere slightly out of style with the building. The cafe is now billed as a food hall.  Perhaps the design is intended as a refuge from the hammered concrete and wide open spaces of the foyers.