Columbia Road Flower Market: LONDON While Olympic fever has gripped London over the past 2 weeks, we took some time out to visit 3 of the capital’s most trendy markets. Columbia Road flower market, Brick Lane and Spitalfields are all within walking distance of each other in London’s East End. These markets have undergone a huge transformation in the last few years and I think make for a unique and atmospheric day out. We started in Columbia road flower market at breakfast time, around 10 am and our senses were hit with a mass of vibrant colours of a huge range of flowers from giant pink and mauve hydrangeas, double headed white orchids, tight clusters of English roses and proud deep yellow sunflowers. The market stall holders scream out their prices all vying for your business, orchids at 6 pounds a pot, roses for 5 pounds all of which are a fraction of the price we’d pay in Dubai. Walk shoulder to shoulder with visitors laden with bouquets of flowers, potted plants and more, or walk either side of the main stalls and browse in the very trendy craft stores, furniture shops and boutiques. Have a fresh coffee and artisan pastry at one of the many independent cafes and soak up the atmosphere of live music, fresh flowers and conviviality. Next time walk with me to London’s Brick Lane market and savour trendy street fashion with food to match!
Brick Lane Market guide
Brick Lane Market is where Eastern promise meets East End chaos. As well as bric-a-brac and fruit and veg, you can now pick up everything from retro furniture to vintage jewellery
Brick Lane Market is growing faster than your waistline after a Bengal curry. Formerly just a trail of bric-a-brac and a smattering of fruit stalls, the now sprawling market has a buzzy new appendage every time you visit, from the fashion fare at the covered Upmarket to quirky T-shirts and jewels at the Back Yard, retro furniture at the Tea Rooms and an eclectic jumble of tat and vintage on the main thoroughfare.
The dolling up (and dulling down) of Spitalfields worked in Brick Lane’s favour, causing the more madcap and small-scale stallholders to migrate to the surrounding streets. Now Brick Lane Market is in many ways how East End veterans recall Spitalfields in its heyday: full of surprises, a bit ramshackle, very noisy and packed to the gunnels with strange smells, sights and stalls.
While you’rethere, have a look at some of the quirky shops neighbouring the market.Rough Trade East on Dray Walk is arguably London’s best independent music shop and plays host to an impressive line-up of in-store gigs.
Overzealous poppadom pimps poised outside curry houses; bikes sold by iffy-looking youths who hang out on Sclater Street – if it’s brand new, worth £500 and selling for £50, then it was stolen from the pub railings last night…
Grab a handmade gastro-burger from Moos Boosh on Dray Walk – where stallholders buy their lunch – or if you fancy a drop of London beer in an authentic East End boozer, then nip down to the Pride of Spitalfields (3 Heneage St).
Brick Lane’s top stalls
Maria Zureta Bijoux
This fabulous stall is a must-visit for anyone with a penchant for statement chainy jewellery. Designer Roberto Costa fashions together masses of different vintage trinkets – anything from a china clog to a bejewelled trout, and uses them to make gloriously OTT layered pendant necklaces with an antiquey feel.
Upmarket (near back, left-hand side).
The Tea Rooms
This orderly, well-laid-out furniture warehouse and tea room sees the cavernous space beneath 93 Feet East transformed into a haven of reasonably priced antiques, homeware, haberdashery and ceramics. Seek out Goodnight Vienna, a stall selling immaculate Ercol tables and chairs.
This weekly market has a variety of well organised stalls peppered with accessories, glam fur coats and cheap men’s suits which date from the 1920s to the 1990s.
F Block, Truman Brewery, 85 Brick Lane, E1 6QL. 11am-6pm every Fri and Sat, 10am-5pm Sun
Thelma Speirs, East End fashion celebrity and designer/partner in Brick Lane’s Bernstock Speirs hat emporium (www.bernstockspeirs.com).
When should you visit Brick Lane?
‘Every Sunday. It’s best to go as early as possible for bargains; it winds down at around 5pm.’
‘Twentysevenpalms.com is a lovely, colourful stall in the UpMarket section of Brick Lane, selling cushions made from bright printed fabric. The carpet stall (actually more of a wall than a stall) sells carpets and rugs very cheap. It is located just off Brick Lane on Bacon Street. In the main part of Brick Lane, near the corner of Cheshire Street, there is an occasional stall selling wonderful old luggage and trunks. Also, Hunky Dory Vintage is a shop at 226 Brick Lane that is the best place to buy clothes and handbags.'
What should you avoid?
‘The fur protesters who don’t appreciate my ’60s mink jacket.’
‘Combine your Brick Lane experience with a trip to Franze and Evans on Redchurch Street, an Italian café with the best coffee in town, and then drink it in the beautiful surroundings of nearby Arnold Circus. After the market, head for a stiff drink at The Nelsons Head on Horatio Street. It has lovely art on the walls and a fashionable clientele.’
Brick Lane (plus Dray Walk), E1. UpMarket & Backyard market: The Old Truman Brewery, 91 Brick Lane, E1 6QL (7770 6028/www.sundayupmarket.co.uk). Aldgate East tube or Liverpool St tube/rail. 10am-5pm Sun.
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I have never been to the Market before, but would like to come along, is there a best time to go, and what is on offer at the Market and surrounding area as I am a Newbie ! Thanks Christine
Yes that was me. Glad we managed to make a positive impression. Any time you're looking for some nice china we'll be there. Or check the Plant and Plant Facebook page. Happy New Year.
Hi John, I'm guessing then that you have the stall just inside the tea rooms on the right with the tea sets. You wre the only trader to welcome us all day. So much better than the lady opposite you who rudely blocked the entrance to her stall with stock she hadn't finished setting up in time and so wasn't interested in selling us any thing. Never Mind. I hope you had a good day.
Agreed it was not a good day today. Lot of traders didn't show up until late, and some not at all :-(. Did you come to the Tea Rooms? If so, I hope I at least had the chance to speak to you in a friendly and polite manner, though I was a bit occupied at times. Any time you want to give us another shot we'll be happy to see you.
Hi John, thanks, we came anyway but what a disappointing experience. Hardly any traders were there even In the open parts. Even then they weren't there when the market opened. The vintage market was awful, more like an expensive charity shop. Nothing special. We won't be returning I'm afraid. It's a lot of hype about nothing. Maybe Sundays are better but I wouldn't risk it!
Pip, sorry I didn't see your message till tonight. Tea Rooms and Backyard were open today. Almost everything will be open tomorrow (30th)
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Actually, Goodnight Vienna left the Tea Rooms two years ago. If Time Out would like to come back and do an update we'd all be happy to see you.
hi dog lovers -You can take any pooch - yes raelly- into the pink clad Vintage Emporium tea rooms- on 14 Bacon St - esp. good if its pouring rain in April showers, pop in and pop out when its stopped- outside is a very cheap knock off food stall ; the cheese selection at Â£1 for Brie Danish blue etc is legendary...
Just in case you are, wondering, the Tea Room and the Tea Room and the Backyard Market will be open Christmas Eve. 11am to 6pm. All day parking Â£8 in the Truman Brewery car park next door.
fantastic market - does anyone know when the insane soviet poster stall will be back ? It was there earlier in the year, but nothng of late tks
Parking? Saturdays you might find a space in Brick Lane itself, or on Cheshire St. Sundays the controls are fierce. Nearest free on street is just East of Vallance Rd. Beware of the Sunday morning closure of the top half of Brick Lane, which can send you back out onto Commercial Street. There is a carpark at the back of Tea Rooms/BackYard Market for Â£12/day, sometimes restricted if being used for yer typical East End film set. If you come, call in to us, 1st bay on right in the tearooms. Best old china in the market, amazing hand-made aprons.
An Update on the Vintage Market for everyone interested. This is Now weekly, upstairs from the Sunday Up Market. The Vintage Market runs every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. you can access it from 85 Brick Lane, or the stairs inside the Up Market on a Sunday. This vintage market is really gathering pace as THE destination for vintage clothes in the area, cheaper than Rokit and Absolute Vintage, with more discerning traders, offering better quality gems. Something for everyone in this market, so go and check it out.
Brick Lane ! Dont forget Big Game Steaks & Burgers, was at Upmarket, Eleys Yard, now the council has stopped that market, they are now along Brick Lane at the railway bridge, Zebra Steaks, Wilderbeest, Cheval, Python, Crocodile, Kangaroo, Ostrich, Bison, Wild Boar, Etc. Etc.
The council really needs to stop the sunday car traffic on Brick Lane. It's like a bunch of sat nav idiots with no clue to what's going on made it into town.
Without their elements of random surprises, serendipity and a bit of bazaar ramshackle, covered and open air markets aren't woth the hassle of parking or getting to. Hope Norman Foster and other clones take note?