PhotoStories | Covent Garden Market: Of street performers, antiques and touristy hordes
Since its history is so interesting, I’ll touch upon it briefly here. If history is not your thing, you could skip straight to the pictures below. The Covent Garden Piazza hosted one of the most famous fruit and vegetable markets for over 300 years – from the 1660’s (post the Great Fire) through to the 1970’s – by which time, the market had grown into a shabby, congested nightmare. The greengrocers were moved to Nine Elms in Battersea (south London) and the market was closed down for a few years but reopened with great celebrations in the late 1970’s. Over the years it has regained its original glamour and colour, although now it is known for its street performances, its central courtyard, its dedicated vendor markets (Apple and Jubilee) and the high profile lifestyle stores and pubs that outline the Piazza.
When I walked in yesterday, I was struck by the sheer number of people there on a late Monday afternoon. There were lots of tourists, no doubt, but there were also a suprising number of Londoners around. (Recession?) Hordes were glued to street performances. On James Street, the main street that links the market to the Covent Garden Station was this Indian ‘magician’, whose glib humour was keeping everyone more entertained than his trickery. While I clicked away, he suddenly noticed me, stopped mid-sentence and gave me a ‘pose’, which shook the whole crowd with laughter (including me, which explains the camera shake).
There were other performances going on in the main square and in the central courtyard (which is reserved for classical music performances). I’ve heard that Covent Garden is the only licensed street performance area in London, but I’m not sure this is true, because I’ve seen street performances at the South Bank at other times.
And then there was the Antiques market, held every Monday in the Apple Market in the main hall. I’m not sure how many of these are real antiques but you could find a bargain here if you looked hard enough. It was so crowded that most of the time, tiny me and my big camera were jostled around and I could only manage a few un-blurred pictures.
Not everyone who was there was part of the shopping, eating, selling, performing frenzy though. I spotted some souls who had managed to create their own isolated islands in the middle of all the bustle about them.
By the time I got to Jubilee Market though, it was nearing 6PM and most of the stalls had wrapped up their wares. So now you know – if it’s the antiques you’re interested in, take the whole day off. No more bluesy Mondays, either way!