Billingsgate Fish Market

These are a few of my photos taken at the famous London fish market. This was the first of several trips I plan to make, and more of a recce to try and understand the people and the environment. This is the start of an ongoing project to document the British food industry and uncover the usually unseen world of an industry that sustains an ever expanding population. 

I arrived at 5 am on a Saturday morning as it opened to the public. It was already a bustling hive of furious activity. Getting there early ensures the pick of the best fish. Unexpectedly, the majority of people were the general public buying for the family. I had expected fish mongers, and other food industry types searching out the best fresh produce to sell on. Speaking to one of the traders, this is becoming the norm, especially on Saturdays. 

I carefully meandered through the crowds, avoiding getting knocked down by heavily stacked pallets of fish flying up and down the busy walk ways. I have tried to capture the essence of market, the proud traders and merchants and the endless array of fish laid out on show.

Technically the challenge was the low light, not being able to use a tripod and the speed at which everything was happening. As to capturing the shots I was looking for, I was disappointed that none of my shots really capture the furious activity, they will have to wait for my next visit. 

I came face to face with many gruesome fishy characters, some that looked like they would bite your hand off, others with poisonous spikes and some that looked truly miserable having been plucked from their home in the depths of the ocean. Of course, correctly filleted and cooked by a skilled chef they would all become tantalising tasty dishes.

Mostly the men and women that worked the market were happy with me pointing a camera in their world, getting used to it with the market becoming another popular stop on the tourism list of places to visit. 

The market is an amazingly interesting and energetic place. It gave me my first glimpse at the shear volumes of fresh food that are traded on a daily basis. It also helped me to appreciate why many people are worried about over fishing. Weekly thousands of tonnes of fish pass though this one market alone The official City of London website quotes “an average of 25,000 tonnes of fish and fish products are sold through its merchants each year. Approximately 40% of that tonnage comprises fish imported from abroad. The annual turnover of the Market is estimated to be in the region of £200m”. You have to wonder, with markets like this one dotted all over the country and world, how long can the oceans keep pace with human need…


Billingsgate Fish Market

Bustling Saturday

Fishy Choice

Little Miss Trader

Crab Wrestling

Salmon Seller

Pick me

Trader 2

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