Above: A corner shop selling poultry.
Most people are familiar with Leadenhall Market today. Some of us remember how it used to be in the 1970s and 1980s. At that time it was still very much a market for food. As you entered the market area from Gracechurch Street there was a fishmonger on the left, followed by a butcher. On the right was a florist and also a greengrocer.
At Christmastime it was a common sight to see chickens and turkeys hanging up in the shops along with other festive decorations. It was, in short, a working market for edible produce which had served the City of London for several hundred years.
The greengrocer was run by two brothers whose shop was laid out to serve any customers who might pass by. Not only were they a shop for the general public but they also supplied many Company Halls with produce for their important lunches and dinners. Being so local, if the chef organising a function had forgotten to order enough onions for a lunch, he could ring through to the shop. It was so local to many of the halls that the a box of onions could be put on a trolley and wheeled round to the appropriate location in a matter of 20 minutes.
As the 1990s came and went, many of the shops found that trade was declining and by the turn of the millennium most of the traders had closed their businesses for good. The premises were taken over by coffee shops, restaurants and unrelated shops selling things like clothes or books. The old days of the market had gone for ever.
The author was reminded of how the market used to look in the 1970s after seeing a Victorian print of a corner shop in Leadenhall Market owned by Messrs John S Fitter & Son, Meat Salesmen, Leadenhall Market. The company became the first appointed agents in England for New Zealand and Australian frozen meat which arrived in refrigerated ships that use to moor alongside the wharves in Tooley Street.
If you visit the market today the meat and poultry shop has long since changed hands but outside you will see hundreds of large metal hooks. They were, of course, used to hang poultry outside, as well as rabbits, turkeys, ducks, pheasant and all manner of other exotic game birds. Something else that was to be seen hanging in the shop would have been sides of smoked ham. All of that is aptly illustrated in the above print.