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Roy Reed At Billingsgate Market

August 2, 2017
by the gentle author

Roy Reed took these pictures of Billingsgate Market when he was a twenty-three-year-old documentary photography student at the London College of Printing in 1975 and they are seeing the light of day for the first time now.

Roy’s enthusiasm for the subject was greater than the interest of the student-journalist who asked him to take the pictures for a project on London’s dying markets. “When I suggested we get there early, she said, ‘See you there at eight,’” Roy recalled, rolling his eyes significantly. In the event, Roy got there at seven-thirty on a February morning and took his pictures just here as business was winding up at the nocturnal market. Forty years later, any disappointment Roy might harbour that the project was never written up and published is outweighed by his satisfaction in having taken these rare photographs of a lost world.

“It was nice chatting with the porters,” Roy remembered fondly, “No-one seemed to mind having their photograph taken – except maybe the guy in the tweed hat, you can see him looking at me suspiciously in the picture.” Taken at the time the market was already due to leave its ancient location next to London Bridge, Roy’s lively photographs comprise a fascinating record of a seemingly recent era in market life that grows increasingly remote.

Photographs copyright © Roy Reed

You may also like to read about

The Last Fish Porters of Billingsgate Market

At the Fish Harvest Festival

Charlie Caisey, Fishmonger

Around Billingsgate Market

The Markets of Old London

5 Responses leave one →
  1. Jim McDermott permalink
    August 2, 2017

    Great photos of a hard life. I’m glad the smell has faded!

  2. Greg Tingey permalink
    August 2, 2017

    A n other vanished world, like that of the steam-locomotive depots that ringed central London.
    Stratford was the closest to me & it was under where “Westfield” is now.
    ( I have some photos of it, still )

  3. Richard Smith permalink
    August 2, 2017

    A wonderful array of characters portrayed here – each with a fascinating tale to tell I’m sure!

  4. Jim McDermott permalink
    August 2, 2017

    A further point, GA – after reading this post I went back to your 2012 article on the markets of old London. The first two images, of Billingsgate in c. 1910, hardly look more dated than these – testament, perhaps, to the photographer’s excellent processing skills.

  5. August 7, 2017

    Thanks Roy. You certainly captured it!

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