Islington Cattle Market

Islington Cattle Market

Map of Islington, showing the market

  The Cattle Market in Islington, the rural area north of London, was opened in 1836 in competition to Smithfield Market. The enterprise was not a success. Adverse publicity, and continued complaints from the City Corporation, City publicans, and Smithfield livestock salesmen, all of whom had vested interests in Smithfield's continuance, ensured that sales at the new market never reached viable levels.

Cattle market

The Architectural Magazine, June 1836

The new cattle market at Islington, which opened on April 17th, is stated to be the sole property of Mr. Perkins of Bletchingly. It stands upon an area of 15 acres, the whole of which is Mr. Perkins's freehold. It is capable of accommodating 7000 head of cattle, 500 calves, 40,000 sheep and lambs, and 1000 pigs. The pens and stalls are so arranged, that the dealers will have the opportunity of proceeding, without any inconvenience, close to the animals, and minutely examining them. In the centre of the market there is a range of buildings, containing eight distinct banking-houses, or money-takers' offices; and enclosing a spacious circular area for the purposes of an exchange for the meeting of salesmen, graziers, and others engaged in the business of the market. The cattle lairs are supplied with troughs filled with spring water; and which, at any season of the year, must prove a great relief to the cattle. The grazier will thus have the opportunity of fairly exhibiting the cattle for sale, instead of exposing them in the limited space in which they frequently appear at Smithfield. The market is approached on three sides, by wide and spacious roads, from which there are six handsome and convenient entrances, with iron gates, to be closed at night. At the principal entrance there is a splendid building, called the market-house, which is intended to furnish accommodation to the clerk of the market, and to be devoted to other purposes connected with the establishment. This great undertaking was commenced on the 17th of November 1833, and completed at an expense of 100,000l. The whole was built and arranged under the superintendence of Mr. John Wrigglesworth, who deserves the highest praise for the admirable manner in which it has been executed. (Morning Chronicle, April 17)

Old and New London, Volume 2

Walter Thornbury, 1878

The Islington Cattle Market (like the Thames Embankment, projected by Martin, the painter, and others, and the Holborn Viaduct, projected by Mr. Charles Pearson) was planned out nearly half a century ago, by active London minds. In 1833 John Perkins, Esq., of Bletchingley, in Surrey, struck with the dirt and cruelty of Smithfield, and the intolerable danger and mischief produced by driving vast and half-wild flocks and herds of cattle through the narrow and crowded London streets, projected a new market in the fine grazing district north of the metropolis. The place was built at an expense of £100,000, and opened under an Act of Parliament, April 18th, 1836. So strong, however, was the popular and Conservative interest in old abuses, that the excellent new market proved a total failure, and was soon closed. The area for cattle at Islington was nearly fifteen acres, abutting on the road leading from the Lower Street to Ball's Pond. It was enclosed by a brick wall, ten feet high, and had vast sheds on all the four sides. A road ran entirely round the market, which was quadrated by paths crossing it at right angles, and there was to have been a central circus, to be used as an exchange for the greasy graziers and bustling salesmen, with offices for the money takers and clerks of the market. The market was capable of accommodating 7,000 head of cattle, 500 calves, 40,000 sheep, and 1,000 pigs. The principal entrance from the Lower Road had an arched gateway, and two arched footways. Poor Mr. Perkins, he was before his age. The spot was excellently chosen, lying as it does near the great roads from the northern and eastern counties, the great centres of cattle, and communicating easily with the town by means of the City Road, which was also convenient for the western part of London. Twenty years later, in 1852, the nuisance of Smithfield (thanks, perhaps, to “Oliver Twist”) became unbearable, even to the long-suffering abuse-preservers; so Smithfield was condemned to be removed, and a new cattle-market was opened in Copenhagen Fields in 1855, and that enriched district now rejoices in many cattle and all the attending delights of knackers' yards, slaughterhouses, tripe-dressers, cats'-meat-boilers, catgut-spinners, bone-boilers, glue-makers, and tallow-melters.

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