RESEARCH Independent Task-Columbia Road Flower Market

“On Sunday the street is transformed into oasis of foliage and flowers. Everything from bedding plants to 10 foot banana trees are up for grabs. The air is intense with the scent of flowers and the chant of the barrow boys “Everthin’ a fiver”?”

One of our independent tasks for this week was to research either Borough Food Market or Columbia Road Flower Market as they are both events in London of cultural importance. After researching both for a bit I obviously picked the latter as I am a sucker for beautiful flowers/plants.

Columbia Market in the Illustrated London News, 1869

“A trip here is sure to be a sensory one. The colours of all the plants being bought and sold are stunning, as are the perfumed smells that seem to have permanently settled over the market. This market is unique in London as it focuses solely on plants and has continued almost unchanged since Victorian times, providing Londoners with the opportunity to explore both the home-grown and the exotic varieties.”


  • Owned by Tower Hamlets London Borough Council
  • The Address is Columbia Rd, London E2 7RG
  • Nearest Tube Stations: Liverpool Street / Old Street
  • Open on Sundays only from 8am to 2pm
  • Started in 1869
  • A large civilian shelter beneath the market suffered a direct hit by a 50 kg bomb on the night of Saturday, 7 September 1940, at the height of The Blitz
  • From the 1960s, new rules forced traders to attend regularly, and the market enjoyed a new resurgence with the increasing popularity of gardening programmes
  • Huguenot immigrants came to the area from France in the 17th century and encouraged a demand for cut flowers
  • Nearly 60 independant shops on Columbia road now
  • Traders arrive from 4am to set up their stalls
  • A lot of the flower sellers grow their own plants or import flowers from around the world
  • The Flower market began as a Saturday trading market but as the Jewish population grew a Sunday market was established
  • Columbia Road began its life as a pathway along which sheep were driven to the slaughterhouses at Smithfield
  • Columbia Market was built upon an area known as Nova Scotia Gardens
  •  Many of the traders are the second or third generation of their family to sell at the market
  • The market is popular not only with plant and flower buyers but also with photographers and television companies, who frequently film there

“Every Sunday, along this narrow cobbled east London street, you can find over 50 market stalls selling flowers, plants, and gardening supplies. It’s a truly vibrant experience. The restored Victorian terraces along both sides of the street house art galleries and vintage clothes stores, plus pubs, cafes, and restaurants. There are no chain stores here as this street is the preserve of independent retailers.”







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