The City of London has approved plans to move both the Billingsgate and Smithfield markets to a site it owns in Dagenham.

The City has been looking for a new home for its three major markets for some years, and in 2018 bought a huge plot of land next to Dagenham Dock currently occupied by a power station, in a preemptive strike to stop other bidders getting their hands on the land.

New Spitalfields (fruit, veg & flowers) moved to Leyton in 1991, while Billingsgate (fish) moved to the Canary Wharf area in 1982 — only Smithfield (meat and poultry) remains in its 800 year old home.

In 2019, the City approved plans to consolidate and relocate three historic wholesale food markets, Smithfield Market, Billingsgate Market and New Spitalfields Market — at the new site in Dagenham. However, the plans have changed, and now just Billingsgate and Smithfield wholesale markets will move to Dagenham, while New Spitalfields market will remain in Leyton, although the City still aims to move it to Dagenham eventually.

London’s wholesale markets, and many others across the country, are governed by legislation which means they can only be moved to a new location with consent from Parliament. The City will deposit a Private Bill with Parliament on 29th November that will then seek Parliament’s permission to move the market.

The new market at Dagenham Dock is expected to open between 2027-2028.

There had also been a lot of local opposition to the move from the Smithfield meat traders, but they’ve now accepted the deal to move to Dagenham.

The City of London says that it will invest nearly one billion pounds directly into Barking and Dagenham to regenerate 42 acres of industrial land into a wholesale food market, bringing around 2,700 new jobs to Barking and Dagenham and supporting 7,850 jobs across the UK – an expected increase of 17% on the jobs supported by Billingsgate and Smithfield currently.

Apart from being right next to the A13 for wholesalers, it’s also a short walk from Dagenham Dock station for people wanting to visit the site.

Dagenham Dock markets – planned building (c) City of London

Once the markets have moved, Smithfield Market has been earmarked to be converted into a cultural hub to sit next to the relocated London Museum. The land at Canary Wharf that will be unlocked by relocating Billingsgate could provide around 2,000 new homes and other social infrastructure.

Hopefully, Smithfield’s annual Christmas Eve Auction will continue in its new home, although Greg Lawrence, who runs the auction, will start accepting Christmas orders from his online shop next week if you prefer to shop that way.


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  1. Alex says:

    I’m not familiar with the proposed site. Is there infrastructure to facilitate movement of goods by rail, or at least opportunities to create such infrastructure ie nearby routes which could be accessed via new sidings? Such a high-profile use should do everything it can to set a good example for how industry, particularly distribution and storage, can become more sustainable.

    It is a shame to see yet another industrial use leave inner London, but at least the new site is within Greater London, and the plans seem to align with the industrial strategy in the Mayor’s London Plan.

    • ianVisits says:

      Have a look at the site on a map and you’ll see what the local transport infrastructure is like.

    • Kevin says:

      The site is right next to the main line running through Tilbury and past the docks located there, the opportunities are huge. I know there’s some sentimental value attached to the current historical site, but this new location would be far better for the future of these markets going forward…

  2. John Wickham says:

    In the case of Smithfield this is another case of money being the driver over a great tradition that is part of the character of London. Talkng of culture, Smith field Market is one of the few remaining places that define London and its people rather than the empty and cold glass towers. Hope no more of these appear in Smithfield or in Poplar.

    • ianVisits says:

      You might want to read the article linked to above about the plans for Smithfield, and then respond explaining how you thought it would be replaced with glass towers?

    • Charles says:

      People probably objected when Smithfield’s was built. What is new now will be old in 50yrs time and people will be sentimental about those. It’s great to see these places go and release the areas to the larger London community instead of the narrow trades associated with the market. I personally do not feel any cameraderie with market traders

  3. Greg says:

    I understand the logistical advantages of moving to Dagenham but I will be sad to see the Market go. Aside from buying my Italian cheese there, as already noted it is the last remnant of the old City, a link going back back to medieval London and in my experience one of the few places you actually hear a proper Cockney/London accent! With the progressive takeover of the area by trendy bars and nightclubs over recent years, another area of our City will have succumbed to gentrification.

  4. Wozzy Brewster OBE FRSA says:

    It’s disgraceful that government continues to dissect London’s cultural history and move it’s heritage in the name of regeneration that serves no purpose to local communities who have been serviced by these markets for centuries!! Shame on this rich government who have no understanding of such cultural heritage or the people’s history. Another demonstration of its sole interest of selling off our historical sites.

    • ianVisits says:

      This was not a government decision, and the markets are mainly for wholesale, they are not local community markets.

  5. Trucker Terry says:

    Whilst some think this is a great idea I currently work next to the proposed site in Dagenham and this will cause complete havoc as the current infrastructure will not be able to cope. There is one road in and out of this site and with the current usage there are severe traffic jams on a daily basis. This will only add to the very poor conditions unless there is another relief road planned then this will be dire. I will definitely be looking for somewhere else to work when this change happens.

  6. Johny says:

    “Smithfield Market has been earmarked to be converted into a cultural hub…”
    I wonder what is cultural hub. Another central library packed with homeless?

  7. Matt Ware says:

    Grab your chance to see and do a tour of historic Smithfield whilst it still remains in its original central London location with qualified City of London Guides, who have permission to guide during market hours (6:30am) , followed by a hearty breakfast.

  8. Peter Dew says:

    Regarding them being wholesale markets giving no benefit to locals, surely locals used to run the markets, didn’t they ?

    • ianVisits says:

      A century or so ago. Not many people working in the market can afford to live locally though – so they commute in.

  9. Wozzy Brewster OBE FRSA says:

    The City of London, as like the other 32 London boroughs, receives funds from central government, which means that it’s also influenced by central government. These markets may be primarily wholesale markets but individual shoppers, like myself, family,friends and colleagues shop there. London is pricing out the working classes…cultural hubs with overpriced housing!

    • ianVisits says:

      If you can send me your evidence that the central government instructed the City of London to move the markets, then naturally, I would be exceptionally interested to see it. If not, then you are making stuff up, and please don’t do that as it’s a waste of everyone’s time.

  10. joe bloggs says:

    what good is that move going to do for locals like me ?when it goes to that dump Dagenham .I do not drive and enjoy just getting a bus up to Smithfield in the early hours and spending a few quid saving a lot in the process .moving to dagenham is a joke and money driven imo I hope it falls flat .

  11. Leo says:

    This should have happened years ago. It’s insane to keep it in the central London while city is trying to tackle pollution and congestion

  12. Jim robinson says:

    I worked at Smithfield ( kilby) 50 years ago when they had cast iron spiral staircases, wholesale only and you had to use a porter to take your bought goods to your vehicle, best job I ever had for characters, atmosphere and the manual work I loved .A huge part of London History going down the tubes sad.

  13. Hadrian v2.0 says:

    The wealth of nations is built on the propensity to truck, trade, and barter. Quote: Adam Smith. Every civilisation is a market and removing people geographically or financially from their markets erodes our personal connection with civilisation. At least every week on the D7 to Billingsgate I am transported; to the Forum of Rome, the Agora of Athens, and Tsukiji of Tokyo. Community is a market, remove the people and there is little else.

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