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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): CLA/017
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1630, 1859 - 2009
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 13.35 linear metres
Name of creator(s): Corporation of London


Administrative/Biographical history:

Smithfield Market was well established by 1174, when a Friday market for horses, pigs and cattle was held. The City of London gained rights over the market in 1327, under a charter granted by Edward III. In 1852 the live cattle market was relocated to a new site in Islington to ease pressures of space.

In 1860 the market was reorganised and renamed following the passing of the Metropolitan Meat and Poultry Market Act. Work began in 1866 on rebuilding the two main sections of the market, the East and West Buildings. The buildings, designed by architect Sir Horace Jones (who also designed Billingsgate and Leadenhall Markets), were completed in November 1868. These buildings were built above railway lines, enabling meat to be delivered directly to the market.

The principal meat market buildings were opened as the Metropolitan Meat and Poultry Market on 1 December 1868. An additional building was opened as the Poultry and Provisions Market on 30 November 1875. A few months earlier the market complex had been renamed the London Central Markets.

During World War Two the wholesale distribution of meat was decentralised and only the poultry and provisions sections of the market operated from Smithfield. This continued until 1946 when (controlled) distribution of meat was re-established. Meat rationing ended in 1954 and Smithfield returned became a free trading market once again.

The original poultry market was destroyed by fire in 1958. The conflagration began on 23rd January of that year and raged for four days.

The City of London Corporation appointed architect T P Bennett and Son to design the new Poultry Market building which was opened in 1962. The East and West Market buildings underwent major refurbishment in the 1990s.


Scope and content/abstract:

The collection (with the exception of CLA/017/LC/05/001 which dates from 1630) dates from 1859 onwards and includes:-

Records of the Metropolitan Meat and Poultry Market, Smithfield, 1859-1898 (CLA/017/MP) : administrative and financial records.

Records of London Central Markets, Smithfield 1863-2009 (CLA/017/LC) : annual reports submitted to the Court of Common Council by various Markets Committees; annual and monthly reports from the Superintendent to the Central Market's Committee; details of tonnage received at the market; analysis of supplies; monthly and weekly reports; rental and tenancy agreements; account books; average prices; Acts of Parliament relating to the market; porter's licences; reports; brochures, handbooks, photographs and audio-visual material. Also papers relating to the investigation by civil engineers B L Hurst & Peirce into the cause of the movement of cracks which appeared in Entrance 20 of the market building.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

CLA/017/LC: London Central Market; CLA/017/MP: Metropolitan Meat and Poultry Market.

Conditions governing access:

Available for general access.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright is vested in the City of London.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Corporation of London Records Office

Allied Materials

Related material:

For Corporation of London records relating to Markets see: CLA/009: Markets, CLA/010: Billingsgate Market, CLA/011: Leadenhall Market, CLA/012: Foreign Cattle Market, Deptford, CLA/013: Spitalfields market, CLA/014: Newgate Market, CLA/015: Metropolitan Cattle Market, CLA/016: Smithfield Market, CLA/017: London Central Markets, Smithfield, CLA/073: Coal Exchange and Market, COL/CC/BLM: Court of Common Council Billingsgate and Leadenhall Markets Committee, COL/CC/CEM: Court of Common Council Central Markets Committee, COL/CC/CTM: Court of Common Council Cattle Markets Committee, COL/CC/MKC: Court of Common Council Markets Committee, COL/CC/MRI: Court of Common Council Markets Improvement Committee, COL/CC/MRJ: Court of Common Council Joint Markets Advisory Committee, COL/CC/MRK: Markets Committee, COL/CC/MRS: Select Markets Committee (Smithfield Fruit and Vegetable Market), COL/CC/SMC: Special Markets Committee, COL/CC/SPM: Spitalfields Market Committee, COL/CCS: Comptroller and City Solicitor, COL/CCS/CO: Comptroller, COL/CH: Charters, COL/CHD/RN: Chamberlain's Department: Rents and Rentals, COL/PL: Plans, COL/PLD/PL: Planning Department Plans, COL/SVD/PL: Surveyor's Department Plans, COL/TSD/PL: Technical Services Department Plans.

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
February 2009

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