In 1937 the Manchester Guardian complained that London’s open-air markets, including Berwick Street market, had lost some of their character and picturesqueness ever since the oil flares were replaced by electric lights over the stalls. They went on to describe Berwick Street as where Noel Coward bought smart socks and Gertrude Lawrence smart stockings at bargain prices in their early days. Corsets, face cream, glassware, and cheap antiques are also there and in the overflow markets in the little neighbouring alleys.
Berwick Street itself was built probably just short of 1700 and probably named after the Duke of Berwick, an illegitimate son of James II. The market began at some point in the 18th century when shop keepers started to display their wares on the pavement but it wasn’t officially recognised until 1892. Berwick Street market is still running today but perhaps not as thriving as it once was with much re-development going on around the area.
Would you like to support Flashbak?
Please consider making a donation to our site. We don't want to rely on ads to bring you the best of visual culture. You can also support us by signing up to our Mailing List. And you can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. For great art and culture delivered to your door, visit our shop.