Smithfield Meat Market: A London Secret

When thinking of London, England the first sights that may come to mind include Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, London Eye, and Tower Bridge. However, amongst all of the typical tourist sites, London is home to buildings with rich history dating back hundreds of years. One of those, Smithfield Meat Market, will be celebrating it's 150 year anniversary in September.

Smithfield Meat Market is the largest wholesale meat market in the United Kingdom and possibly the biggest of its kind in all of Europe. The market accepts deliveries starting at 11:00 PM from local farmers, and at 2:00 AM the trading begins. Restaurants and hotels are the main customers at Smithfield and they do all of their buying before the market closes at 10:00 AM. The general public is also welcome to come purchase products at a wholesale price, but they have to take the product "as is".

The architects that designed Smithfield wanted to ensure the building design was attractive by including decorative columns and intricate details. The beautiful interior still remains today, with the addition of refrigerator units and cooling rooms to stay up to code on meat handling requirements. The main aisle separated the meat market from whole carcasses on the south side, to individually packaged meat items on the north side of the building.

England is known for their traceability with their meat products, labeling where the products were produced and butchered. While at Smithfield, we noticed that there were beef products that were labeled as "Grass-Fed" and also products advertised as "Grain-Fed".  Some shops specialize in specific cuts of meat or country of origin for their products.

Between the buildings is an old bell that was historically rung at the start and end of trading each day, now it only rings at 11:00 AM on November 11th to pay tribute to those lost during war.
One special event that Smithfield Meat Market hosts is an auction on Christmas Eve. There are 10 to 12 traders that get together to decide what cuts they will be selling, and the last bidder of the day gets a free turkey!

Fun Fact: There are 100 sheep heads sold each day at Smithfield Meat Market!


Paige and Maggie


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