Esoteric London

No. 987: East Poultry Avenue, EC1

Posted in Food, Markets, Shops by esotericlondon on December 10, 2013

© Roger Dean RED_5964 copy

Smithfield Market, East Poultry Avenue, London, EC1. Photo © Roger Dean 2013

Unsentimental Journeys: or Byways of the Modern Babylon – James Greenwood, 1867:


The butchers of Squalors’ Market number two less than the gin and beer sellers, and are, dear reader, by no means quiet, well-behaved creatures, such as you are acquainted with. Your butcher wears a hat, generally a genteel hat, and a blue coat, and a respectable apron; perhaps, even snowy sleeves and shiny boots, and a nice bit of linen collar above his neckerchief. You give your orders and he receives them decorously, and wishes you good morning as you quit his neatly-arranged and sawdusted shop. Contrasted with him the butcher of Squalors’ Market is a madman – a raving lunatic. He unscrews the burners of his gaspipes, and creates great spouts of flame that roar and waver in the wind in front of his shamble-like premises, endangering the hats of short pedestrians and the whiskers of tall ones; far out from his shop, and attached to roasting-jacks, revolve monstrous pigs’ heads and big joints of yellow veal, spiked all over like a porcupine with figure-bearing tickets, that announce the few pence per pound for which the meat may be bought. He wears on his head a cap made of the hairy hide of the bison or some other savage beast; his red arms are bare to the elbows, and he roars continuously, “Hi-hi! weigh away – weigh away! the rosy meat at three-and-half! Hi-hi! “- clashing his broad knife against his steel to keep time.

[The coat of arms in the above photograph is that of the Worshipful Company of Butchers. R.D.]

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