London’s Great Market Share
The Great British marketplace is a legendary enterprise that’s as old as the country itself, and there’s nowhere better for a spot of weekend market-hopping than the UK capital, discovers Joe Mortimer.
Thanks to the hipster revolution and demand for all things retro, the British market scene has returned to its roots, with an abundance of options for discerning visitors. Whether you’re looking for vintage Chanel, rare vinyl or fresh lobster rolls, these London markets have something for everyone.
If you can’t find what you’re looking for in Camden, it’s time to give up and go home. This sprawling market covers half the neighbourhood, with various enclaves dedicated to international street-food, independent shopping and local design, stretching from the riverside food stalls of Camden Lock to the cavernous underbelly of the Horse Tunnel Market. Hunt hard and you might pick up a Mexican hammock, a Gambian hoodie or a corduroy Saville Row suit from the 1950s.
Alfie’s Antique Market
Tucked away in a quiet corner of Marylebone, Alfie’s is a multi-storey emporium of antiques, collectibles and vintage design, with more than 100 shops spread out behind an Art Deco façade on Church Street. Named after owner Bennie Gray’s father, Alfie’s is frequented by a patchwork of London life, from hardcore antique dealers and celebrity buyers to wide-eyed tourists. Look out for retro jewellery, vintage posters and furniture ranging from turn of the century kitsch to contemporary design.
Hackney Flea Market
This relatively young market in achingly cool Stoke Newington has quickly become one of the city’s favourites. Home to a mish-mash of stalls selling vintage vinyl, period furniture, retro clothing and everything else imaginable, the weekly event is just one more reason to visit East London. A rotating line-up of DJs man the sound system each weekend, playing a collection of rare and popular tunes as eclectic as the goods for sale at this unique bazaar off Church Street.
Maltby Street Market
The sons and daughters of folk that used to shop at Borough Market now spend their weekends perusing the stalls at Maltby Street Market. Come Saturday and Sunday, the workshops of LASSCO Ropewalk and the surrounding streets are converted into a warren of foodie shops and independent produce stalls nestled into and around the railway arches, with artisans selling everything form beard balm and chilli chocolate to biodynamic vegetables and homemade mead. Look out for the snug outposts of popular London eateries like St. Johns, Comptoir Gourmand and Neal’s Yard Dairy.
Brick Lane Market
Another East London favourite, the Brick Lane Market is a visual feast in the heart of one of the most vibrant parts of the capital. Sundays see the streets transform into a chaotic mass of humanity, with stalls selling collectibles, junk and everything in between, and street performers showing off the best of Shoreditch colour. If you tire of slogging through treasure troves of second hand goods, lift your eyes to see some of London’s best street art, or stop in for lunch at one of the myriad ethnic restaurants that line the neighbourhood.
Old Spitalfields Market
Everything in the world is crammed under one roof at Old Spitalfields Market, housed in a Victorian building that’s been flogging wares since the late 19th century. Quiet Mondays to Wednesdays see the covered market filled with regular traders, but the rest of the week is divided up into themed days for niche buyers. Thursdays are all about antiques; Fridays are dedicated to fashion and art; Saturdays mean vintage wares; and Sundays combine the whole lot for a mega-market, complete with street food stalls offering an endless variety of edibles.