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Billingsgate Fish Market

Early Morning Visit with Breakfast


19th April 2018

The Ward Club trip to the Billingsgate fish market started at 6.30 a.m. which must have been the earliest event in the Club’s history. The maximum allowed group of 22 members managed to find their way there on a sunny Thursday morning in April. This was some feat in itself as, once you had arrived at Poplar DLR, you could see the market, but how did you gain access? There were few signs. In the end I followed a group of Chinese shoppers who knew the way in.   

We had a welcoming cup of coffee in the committee room during which the Superintendent (CEO of Market) gave us a brief introduction. He said that the three markets (Billingsgate, Smithfield and the New Spitalfields) were likely to merge in the future to create a ‘one stop shop’.

We were then split into three groups. My group was led by a member of the management team who was a real fish expert and a proud member of the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers (one of the posher companies, with Princess Anne as the current master. He started the talk in the cookery school which is used for short courses and events.

Then down to the market floor, which was very wet. There are 98 stalls and most were still open. We visited a number of them starting with a lobster tank and then onto stalls selling Brill, Dover Sole, Sea Bass, Eel and Turbot. It was very educational and luckily, there was a member of our group, Pauline Jenkins, who was able to answers any questions he posed. I could relax and concentrate on not slipping over.

A few of us bought items and afterwards we returned to the committee room for a very tasty poached eggs and smoked Haddock breakfast. The food was delicious. As a memento of the visit our Master distributed small goldfish (of the plastic variety) that cleverly double as ice-cubes.

At 9.30 am we wended our way home, in my case to Waitrose at Canary Wharf to buy other Fish related memorabilia.

Overall a very enjoyable trip.

                                      Kevin Kiernan

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