When I was small, Tom used to take me on quite a few outings. One place that was always exciting to visit was Petticoat Lane market, across the river in the East End.
“More than a thousand stalls spread over two streets make up Petticoat Lane Market. This East End market which has been operating since the 1750’s or earlier, is named after the petticoats and lace once sold there by the Huguenots who came to London from France. The street was renamed Middlesex Street in 1830 by the Victorians who wanted to avoid references to women’s underwear, but the name had stuck. The market specialises in new goods ranging from running shoes to kitchen utensils.” (quoted from here)
“Visiting tourists looking for the East End’s most famous market could be forgiven for being confused. In fact, you will sometimes see them outside Aldgate East station, or at the foot of Middlesex Street, scratching their heads as they pore over their A to Zs. Because, of course, there is no such street as Petticoat Lane – and nor has their been for around 170 years.
..like so much of London, Petticoat Lane was altered forever by the Great Plague of 1665. The rich fled the dangers of London, and property prices plummeted. As so often in Spitalfields, a new wave of immigrants replaced the old. This time it was Huguenot and Jewish weavers, carrying on the tradition of garment workers in the area. It’s astonishing to think that this thread of tradition is unbroken – though the faces, clothes, names and nationalities of immigrants have changed – more than 300 years later.” (quoted from here).
The place was worth a visit for the “patter” of the Cockney street traders alone. They would stand on the backs of their lorries or piles of crates and put on a show for potential customers. They were very funny and impressed the crowd by juggling with their merchandise, including crockery.
This photo of the market was taken in 1962.