Eye-opening pictures have given a glimpse of how London’s historic Smithfield Market on Grand Avenue will appear when it reopens in 2025 as the new home of the Museum of London.
Smithfield’s 1960s poultry market has been shut since November last year and its annex is set to become the capital’s new museum, which is moving just half a mile from its old location at London Wall.
The museum’s old building, located near the iconic Barbican, was due to be converted into a concert hall, but the project has been paused.
The new site at Smithfield is noticeably bigger, including a large covered area for events allowing more room for exhibitions.
A design of what the exterior look like when it has been redesigned as the Museum of London’s new home
Pictured is Smithfield’s Poultry market shortly before it closed
The iconic Smithfield’s market has been shut since November 2022 to carry out the work
The Smithfield’s 1960s poultry market and annex is due to reopen as home of the Museum of London
A group of men stand around King Charles as he visits Smithfield Market in 1980
A butcher holds a pig’s head at Smithfield market in central London in 2006
This image shows what the poultry market is expected to look like after reopening as the London Museum
Smithfield meat porters loading meat on to Army lorries driven by RASC troops at Smithfield Market in London, England, during a strike
A large skylight window goes along the ceiling in this visualisation as people are depicted sitting down in the space
An salesman laughs as he stands among the turkeys hanging by their feet near Christmas time
Iconic: Men inspecting meat at Smithfield Market, City of London in 1903
Architectural plans show a green space with many different species of plant, along with a seating area
A photo shows scene in Smithfield Market where souvenir editions of newspapers were quickly bought and read by the market porters
The Museum of London are moving just half a mile from their old space near the Barbican
British bantam weight champion Alan Rudkin works at Smithfield Meat Market in London 2 days per week in 1970
The new site is due to be particularly bigger, including a large covered area for events
This rendering displays people walking down some stairs to go to a different exhibit
Meat porters shifting baskets, which have been unloaded from the early meat train to Smithfield Market, London, January 1870
A birds-eye view drawn up by Stanton Williams Architects of what the new building will look like
Butchers stand around at Smithfield meat market in London in 1935
A visualisation shows people walking on a cobbled street outside the Smithfield’s market
Shoppers looking for a last minute bargain gather around the poulterers stalls in Charterhouse Street close to Smithfield Market as the turkey auctions begin on Christmas Eve in 1953
Architectural visualisations show the outside of the new Museum of London
Irene Moffatt took a trip down to Smithfield market in 1969. She is wearing a swimsuit, hat, slippers and goggles made entirely of turkey feathers
A rendering of what the new entrance will look like, with a sign that says ‘Londoners unite for London nights’
A picture of the renowned Smithfield market in London in 1960. Customers and butchers gather around the stock
The new site is due to be particularly bigger which will allow more room for exhibitions
Traders at Smithfield Market in London auction Christmas turkeys in 1953
Stanton Williams Architects have drawn up a general view of what the new space will look like
Traders and shoppers moving between rows of animal carcasses at Smithfield Market in 1979
One of the entrances to the new Museum of London, as a man depicted walking through a door
Smithfield workers having a pint or two in the public bar of the Victoria Public House in 1975
A rendering of an Museum of London exhibition, with different dates marked along the floor
Workers put the final touches to the New Smithfield poultry market in London in 1963, which was designed by Sir Thomas Bennet
An area leading to different spaces such as a chat rom, the market, a reading room and a different section altogether
A birds-eye view of the historic space in designs made by Stanton Williams Architects
Despite its history, the 800-year-old market receives only a fraction of the footfall of Covent Garden, Bloomberg reports, but that may change once the museum opens.
Paul Williams, Director of Stanton Williams Architects, which is designing the new space, said: ‘We are immensely excited about being given the opportunity to work with the Museum of London on this wonderfully challenging project – participating in an endeavour that will transform an area of London that has such a rich history, but sadly has been in decline for many years.’
Loyal shoppers at Smithfield can look forward to new wholesale mega-market, which is due to open in 2027, occupying a 42-acre site at Dagenham Dock.
The meat sellers from Smithfield’s market will occupy this new plot alongside traders from New Billingsgate and New Spitalfields, which are wholesale fish, fruit and flower markets.
However, the Evening Standard reports that traders said this move will have a ‘big impact’ on their businesses.
One independent trader said: ‘I think it will have profound impact on all the businesses once Smithfield is moved to a site like that,’ he said.
‘I don’t think we’re going to have the room to do what we do as wholesalers now.’
However, they added the merger of markets would have some benefit, adding: ‘If and when we move we would benefit from being with the fish and the fruit and veg companies in one big market – that we’re interested in.’
Villains, wars, and lots of flesh… the amazing history of London’s old Smithfield Market
A painting from the 1800s shows livestock traders negotiating with customers at the historic market
Smithfield is the largest and oldest EU approved wholesale meat market in the country.
The large London market, designed by architect Sir Horace Jones, is over 140 years old, set up in 1860 by an Act of Parliament on Charterhouse Street. Livestock, however, has been traded on the site for around 900 years.
Originally known as Smoothfield, the area was a large open space just outside the city boundaries on the edge of St Bartholomew’s Priory, used as a vast recreational area in the 12th century where jousts and tournaments took place.
By the late Middle Ages the area had become the most famous livestock market in the country.
Smithfield was used as a place of execution for criminals, including Wat Tyler, leader of the Peasants’ Revolt, and Scottish hero William Wallace, from the early 13th century.
It was also the location of Bartholomew Fair – three days of three days of merrymaking, dancing, selling and music which over the centuries became the most debauched and drunken holiday in the calendar.
The market was closed during the Second World War for storage purposes, and to act as the theatre of secret British government experiments – and was even bombed during the Blitz.
Its original Poultry Market, now a Grade-II listed building was destroyed by a fire in 1958, but was reopened in the 1960s.