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City of London Billingsgate Market

Billingsgate is the United Kingdom's largest inland fish market. An average of 25,000 tonnes of fish and fish products are sold through its merchants each year.

The history of Billingsgate can be traced back to 1400, when Henry IV granted a charter giving citizens the right to collect customs and tolls at Cheap, Billingsgate and Smithfield.

Since then, the City's role as Market Authority has been confirmed by various acts of parliament including the Billingsgate Market Acts in 1846 and 1871 which gave it responsibility for making byelaws and regulations, and the collection of rents, tolls and other charges.

In the past, the area was called Byllynsgate or Blynesgate, and only became Billingsgate later on.

It's not certain what the origin of the name might be, but some have speculated that it might be named after a watergate for the landing of goods, which was owned by someone called "Biling", hence "Biling's Gate". Others think it could be connected with King Belin from as long ago as 400BC.

Originally a general market for corn, coal, iron, wine, salt, pottery, fish and various other goods, Billingsgate doesn't seem to have become associated exclusively with the fish trade until the sixteenth century.

An Act of Parliament was passed in 1699 declaring it "a free and open market for all sorts of fish whatsoever".


There was a single exception: Dutch fishermen who had boats moored in the Thames were allowed to sell eels. This was in recognition of their role helping to feed the people during the Great Fire of London.

Until the mid-nineteenth century, the fish market didn't have a permanent building on the site. There were individual sheds and stalls around the dock or hythe', and fish was sold from those. As the size of the market grew, it became necessary to construct a purpose-built building.

A Permanent Home

The first market building was located on Lower Thames Street in 1850, but such was the rate of growth of the market that this soon became too small.

It was demolished in 1873 and was replaced by the building which stands on the site today. Designed by Sir Horace Jones and built by John Mowlem, the market building opened for business in 1876. The building is now listed by English Heritage.


The Market does not offer regular escorted tours for individual members of the public, however it is open to the public and you are welcome to visit.

Escorted tours can be arranged for groups of students, chefs, food establishments etc. Children under the age of 12 are not permitted on the market floor.

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Tube: From London Bridge, Stratford & Waterloo take the Jubilee Line to Canary Wharf (10 minutes walk).

DLR: From Tower Gateway, Bank, Beckton, Stratford - to Canary Wharf (10 minutes walk) or to Blackwall (change at Limehouse) (5 minutes walk)

Road: From the City - A1100 Tower Hill - A1203 East Smithfield - The Highway - Limehouse Link Tunnel (follow signs to Royal Docks) on exit form tunnel into Aspen Way. Take the 1st slip road and follow the signs to Billingsgate Market.

From the South - A102 via Blackwall Tunnel take first exit on North side follow signs to Canary Wharf / Isle of Dogs

City Airport: By road - follow signs to City, exit onto Aspen Way flyover Junction A1206. Follow Canary Wharf signs (Billingsgate is sub-signed). By DLR - as from Beckton above.

City of London Billingsgate Market Postcode for SatNav: E14 5TD


+44 (0)2079 871 118
+44 (0)2079 870 258

Trafalgar Way
Greater London
E14 5TD

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