The first Columbia Road market was conceived in 1869 as an attempt to wean costermongers from the streets. Today, the Sunday morning flower market in Columbia Road and nearby Ezra Street has become something of an institution. Selling cut flowers, pot plants, herbs, trees and even mature shrubs, the market spills out into back streets with all the charm of Camden, but none of the commercialism and none of the goths. Get up by dawn.
Adapted from The London Encyclopedia (1985), by Hibbert, Weinreb, Keay & Keay.
Columbia Road began its life as a pathway along which sheep were driven to the slaughterhouses at Smithfield.
Columbia Road (2010).
“I have been trading for 35 years on Columbia Road. I sell herbs including Fern Leaf Dill, Rosemary, Purple sage, Sweet Basil, Coriander, Lemon Thyme. My father worked in the Romford markets and he came from a family of fruit sellers.”
Simon Grover, Columbia Road trader since 1973.
Dr Sophie Duncan is Fellow in English at Christ Church, University of Oxford. She works regularly as a historical advisor and as a dramaturg for theatre, TV, radio and film. She likes theatre, detective fiction and cocktails.