A history of Borough Market

A history of Borough Market

The renaissance

Revival of interest
Borough Market’s current incarnation has its roots in the revival of interest in artisan foods which took shape in the 1990s. When the likes of Neal’s Yard Dairy and Brindisa—pioneering food businesses which had moved into the area’s empty warehouses—began to host special retail events for the public at their respective premises and around the Market, their instant popularity presaged a new direction. The Market’s trustees could see that a specialist retail market could offer a brighter future.

Thanks in part to the encouragement of these traders, Henrietta Green was asked to hold a three day Food Lovers’ Fair at the Market in November 1998, which gathered together around 50 of the best food producers in Britain as part of the annual Southwark Festival. The event was a roaring success, with many traders selling out within hours.

International institution
This clear evidence of its potential led to a decision to hold a regular retail market at Borough on the third Saturday of every month, with British traders joined by those offering produce from around Europe and the world. This soon became a weekly affair, its popularity bolstered the endorsement of just about every chef in the country. In what seemed like the blink of an eye, it was a genuine international institution—probably the most famous food market in the country. It is now open six days a week, and its activities have broadened considerably, but that sense of excitement has never dissipated. Many of the traders who started the Market’s modern boom are still here, still playing their part in its gradual evolution and the Market's trustees continue to work to ensure the Market's survival for generations to come.

The bridge that began it all is still there too, of course; still bringing customers over from the City—thankfully now unencumbered by fear of prosecution for the medieval crime of shopping in Southwark.