Victorian London - Markets - Newgate Market

[demolished 1869, ed.]

It would scarcely be credited that, in splendid London, women are subjected to various kinds of severe and repulsive toil .... For example, the porterage of meat at the wholesale markets, as Newgate and Leadenhall, is performed by women, many of them old. You will see these wretched creatures stagger under the weight of a side of beef, or having an entire sheep upon their heads, conveying their burdens to the butchers carts, drawn up in the vicinity of the market ...

The World of London, by John Murray, in Blackwoods Magazine, July  1841

Newgate Market is the second great place for country- killed meat; and at both Leadenhall and Newgate markets are sold pigs and poultry killed in the country, together with hog- meat, game, fresh butter, eggs, &e. to an astonishing amount. These markets supply the butchers of London and its vicinity almost entirely, and the surrounding towns and villages pretty generally to the distance of twelve miles and upwards; the prevailing opinion among these people being that cattle can be bought cheaper at Smithfield than at any other place: the poulterers and porkmen of London and its vicinity all purchase their supplies at Leadenhall and Newgate markets.

Mogg's New Picture of London and Visitor's Guide to it Sights, 1844

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from The Illustrated London News, 1845

NEWGATE MARKET, between NEWGATE STREET and PATERNOSTER ROW, originally a meal market, now a meat market, and much frequented. The West End carcase butchers come to this market for almost all their meat. ... This market grew into reputation as a meat market when the stalls and sheds were removed from Butcher-Hall-lane and the localities adjoining the church of St. Nicholas Shambles. Newgate-street, on a market morning, has not been unaptly likened to one continuous butcher's tray.

Peter Cunningham, Hand-Book of London, 1850

Newgate Market, abutting on the south of Newgate Street, is most extensive for the sale of carcase and retail butchers' meat; adjacently is Tyler's Market, of a similar description; Newgate Market, so important for the extent of its business, is yet one of the nuisances in the city of London. The slaughterhouses for sheep are almost exclusively in cellars underneath the shop where the pieces or joints are sold in retail. The access to these cellars is by steps, over which a board is occasionally placed, to act as an inclined plane, for the animal to slide down ; more frequently a much more summary process is had recourse to, the animal is seized by the butcher, and pitched headlong into the cellar by main force, where, unable to rise from broken limbs, or other injuries sustained by the fall, they lie awaiting their turn to be slaughtered. In this market poultry is also sold.

London Exhibited in 1852, 1852

see also James Greenwood, Unsentimental Journeys c.III - click here

In the afternoon, went from Charing Cross to Cannon Street by rail, and thence walked up to certain old bookshops, beyond Finsbury Square. On my way back I rambled through the oldfashioned streets about Cripplegate; attracted first by the fine massive antique tower of Cripplegate church, which is a-repairing. In the quiet of a Saturday afternoon, when offices are closed and busy men departed, the world of modern life disappears for a moment, and these old 17th & 18th century streets and alleys, these deserted old churches, bring back something of the interest and delight with which one wanders through a mediaeval town abroad. Far better it is to ramble here, at such a time, than in some bustling suburb, mean, newfangled, fashionable or vulgar. I went, probably for the last time, through the mazes of old Newgate market: long low alleys, glazed in of late years, but walled on both sides with butchers' shops nearly as old as the Fire: open sheds, with massy beams and rafters and blocks, browned and polished by age and friction. Many of the alleys were closed and dark, for the butchers had removed to the new Market in Smithfield: but two or three were lighted up & busy with buyers and sellers- long rude vistas of meat and men.

Arthur Munby, Diary, 12 December 1868