|Covent Garden Market|
|The thumbnails below are linked to larger pictures
The older generation of Londoners (including myself) still remember Covent Garden as the largest fruit and vegetable market in England. This recent history of Covent Garden began in the 1630's when land formerly belonging to Westminster Abbey, the 'Convent Garden' was developed by the 4th Earl of Bedford, in what was then the the first experiment in London, of town planning and the creation of the first public square in the country.
Inigo Jones the most important architect of the time designed the Piazza with arcaded houses to the north and east. The fruit and vegetable market in the square began in a very small way in 1649, but by 1760 occupied much of the piazza. The main building in the Piazza we see today was erected in 1830 by Charles Fowler.
Even before the last war it was evident that the country's principal fruit and veg market could not remain for much longer in this very congested part of London. It was eventually relocated to Nine Elms in 1973, leaving empty market buildings and numerous vacant premises in the surrounding area.
A vigorous campaign by local residents and the public, defeated the planners vandalistic intentions to knock down most of the buildings, and instead the Market was renovated to become the popular shopping centre and mecca for arts, crafts and theatre that it is today. Gradually the streets around have also been transformed into a similar mecca for shoppers and niche businesses, encouraged by the success of the central market.
Many photographs on this page were collected during the Moroccan Culture festival held at Covent Garden in June 2003, which included music, dancers, acrobats, craft demonstrations and food, all very colourful.
For more information plus details of current events see http://www.coventgardenlife.com