A London Icon
Icon is an overused word. Be careful how you chuck it around. Iconic status can only be earned. It cannot be bought or created by marketing campaigns. New Covent Garden Market has earned iconic status. It earned it by being a vital part of London for longer than Big Ben, Buckingham Palace or St Pauls.
We’re still hard at it when the last Tube stops. It, literally, never stops. That’s how an icon is created. Imagine a London without New Covent Garden Market. It would be a London with all of the flavour and colour turned off. Almost half of the fresh fruit and vegetables eaten in London’s restaurants, cafes, pubs, hotels, schools and hospitals comes, fresh, from us every day.
The majority of fresh flowers in London’s royal palaces, hotels, offices, shops and parties all come from New Covent Garden Market. In the best possible way, Brand New Covent Garden Market is not going anywhere. It is staying right here. A true icon in its right place. It is just getting a whole lot better.
To those who plant, tend, pick, pluck and dig.
To those who drive it to the market.
To those who get it off the lorries and vans and into the market.
To those who set it out and get it looking lovely.
To those who come along, when the world is asleep,
and carefully select and, crucially, buy.
To those who get the stuff out to the waiting cars, vans and lorries.
To those who then drive it to where it needs to be.
(Remember, the world is still fast asleep)
To those who then arrange, boil, grill, drizzle, roast for the
pleasure of those who are, just, beginning to wake.
To all of those: we salute you.
Our Story So Far
Covent Garden dates back to medieval days when the Abbey of Westminster owned the ‘Convent Garden’ from which surplus produce was sold to Londoners. A regular market grew and in 1670, Charles II granted a charter to hold a formal market there.
The market grew rapidly and the ‘Charter’ Market was erected in 1829/30. It spread to some 30 acres and by the end of the 19th century it was the most important fresh produce market in the UK. Produce from around the Empire and beyond would come to London’s docks and into the market to serve the capital’s hotels, restaurants, high street shops and street stalls. Much of the innovative and exotic produce was also distributed nationally, up to Scotland and across to Ireland.
Although successful, the market was a chaotic place and by 1890 people were complaining about the congestion in the narrow streets.
After WWII, and with the advent of larger vehicles, congestion became even worse. The Government recognised that public sector involvement would be necessary and in 1961 Covent Garden Market Authority was established. Nine Elms was selected as the new home for the market and construction began in 1971.
On Monday 11 November 1974 the largest wholesale fruit, vegetable and flower market in the UK began trading on the new site. For 40 years New Covent Garden Market has been proudly feeding and flowering London from its home at Nine Elms. Over those years, the market evolved into distribution, servicing London’s burgeoning hospitality industry.
Through its long history one thing has never changed; a passion for the freshest produce.