columbia road e2
Columbia Road Flower Market street market is located in East London, Columbia Road is a road of Victorian shops off Hackney Road in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. The market is open on Sundays only.
Columbia Market was established in 1869 by the philanthropist Angela Burdett-Coutts as a covered food market with 400 stalls.
A planned railway line for the delivery of fish was never built, and traders preferred selling outdoors.
The market closed in 1886, after use as warehouses and small workshops. Prompted by Charles Dickens, she also built the separate U-shaped Columbia Dwellings, of several storeys, with a three-storey Gothic arch built into the brickwork of the central section.
The building was demolished in 1958, although the remains of railings can be seen in front of the Nursery School. Sivill House and the Dorset Estate replaced the Coutts buildings.
The market began as a Saturday trading market. It was moved to Sunday, by Act of Parliament, in order to accommodate the needs of local Jewish traders.
This also provided the opportunity for Covent Garden and Spitalfields traders to sell their stock left over from Saturday.
The enduring interest and demand for cut flowers and plants were introduced to the East End by Huguenot immigrants, together with a fascination for caged song birds – the pub at the end of the market is called The Birdcage.
The market suffered in World War II from rules prioritising food production, and went into a long decline.
A large civilian shelter beneath the market suffered a direct hit by a 50 kg bomb on the night of Saturday, 7 September 1940, at the height of The Blitz.
From the 1960s, new rules forced traders to attend regularly, and the market enjoyed a new resurgence with the increasing popularity of gardening programmes.
The market is in operation every Sunday from 8 am to 2 pm. Traders arrive from 4 am to set up their stalls. A wide range of plants, bedding plants, shrubs, bulbs and freshly cut flowers is available at competitive prices. Many of the traders are the second or third generation of their family to sell at the market
The market also has shops selling bread and cheeses, antiques, garden accessories, unusual international edibles, soap, candlesticks and Buddhist artefacts.
Much of Columbia Road is part of the Jesus Green Hospital Estate.
The market is popular not only with plant and flower buyers but also with photographers and television companies, who frequently film there.