Trading over 25,000 tons of fish a year, Billingsgate Fish Market is the UK’s busiest fish market. It may be hidden away from central London on the Isle of Dogs in East London, yet well worth an early morning schlep to buy the freshest catch of the day and witness London’s friendly fishmongers in action.
London’s only dedicated seafood market originally traded on the streets near Billingsgate Wharf off Lower Thames Street in the 16th century before moving into a purpose built facility in 1850. The space quickly proved to be insufficient and a grand arcade style market with a Renaissance facade was erected in 1877. For over 200 years the market thrived in the space (which is now referred to as Old Billingsgate Market and used as an events venue) until relocating from the middle of the city to the Docklands.
Billingsgate Fish Market is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 5:00 am to 8:30 am attracting London’s restaurateurs, fishmongers, fish and chip shop owners, and catering companies. Buying in bulk is required, so either plan on sharing or have plenty of freezer space (kind of defeats the purpose though). Rise early for the finest catch or later if you’re after a bargain. Dress in old clothes, wear non-slip shoes or boots, and bring a bucket for your purchases. Expect lots of fun banter and phrases you won’t understand. Kids under 12 are not admitted.
Billingsgate Fish Market
Canary Wharf Tube
Video tour of London’s Fish market by Roger Barton
Video by VisitBritainTV