10 January 2017

The Fabric of Smithfield

The area has changed so much and so quickly. I recall going to a venue on Charterhouse Street for a friend's birthday party one Saturday evening in 1996. I can't remember the name of the place – I went there quite a few times – it had a restaurant and bar on ground floor and a dance floor in the basement. We used to enjoy being in an area of London so close to so many things yet quiet and unknown by so many – it felt like we were in on something only the locals and the market traders knew anything about. But that soon changed with the arrival of Fabric in 1999 and very quickly the buildings around the market changed to cater for the change in clientele and the shift in the meat market trade.
There are still some lovely old buildings in the area. Look up and around you – there's lots to see.
Charterhouse Street – Top: Cold Storage, a Fabric lion and a ram at 79-83 with more from that building on the second row. 
Just along from the Italianate Cold Storage building on Charterhouse Street and next door to Fabric is the 1930s Meat Inspector's Office built in Portland stone with lovely reliefs of cattle and sheep with rams heads at street level.

Lindsey Street and Long Lane. Both buildings demolished for Crossrail.
Crossrail has demolished all the buildings in Lindsey Street along the Western side of the market. Nothing Crossrail erects here will ever compare to the charm of the exterior of Edmund Martin's tripe shop or the Art Deco exuberance of Saville House that used to sit on the corner of Long Lane. It's criminal that this could not have been incorporated into Crossrail's designs.
Moving round into Long Lane itself, the deco building at 51-52 (first pic below) is still there but at the time of writing is covered in scaffold and nettings.


Evans & Witt are still trade at No.58 (phew!). The Barley Mow at No.50 ceased trading as a pub in 2006 though the building and the old pub name at the top still remains.


The pics above were taken in Sept2016 of the Farringdon end of Charterhouse Street. The poultry market looking as if it's actually being used, though the caging/fencing belies that. Hart's still had it sign up for last Christmas' auction. I had assumed that this had been the last one and the sign had just been there ever since as a sad reminder. However, I just checked and can report they had the auction as usual last month. So all is not lost. The PLA building still stands as imposing as the day it was built there to keep an eye on imports and exports to/from the market.
For info on Smithfield Market and the immediate area click here.

I wrote a few months ago about the closure of two pubs in the Smithfield area. I also noticed that in a fond piece written by Giles Coren about A. A. Gill in the Saturday Times magazine a week after Gill died he was pictured in The Hope, one of the pubs mentioned above. It seemed a strange ironic choice of image to me.

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