Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Food and Factory Merge at the Maltby Street Market

I don't know about you, but when I think of a food market, I usually picture rows of vendors selling fresh fruits and vegetables in the sunshine with a sprinkling of craft stalls and prepared food vendors thrown in for good measure.

London's Maltby Street Market at Ropewalk isn't that. 

Ropewalk is a narrow alley, about the length of a city block, situated in Bermondsey, steps from the Thames and within eye-shot of the Shard.  

At one end is Jensen's Gin Distillery and at the other, Buddy's Buyz, a junk shop filled with an eclectic jumble of second hand vintage treasures.  While I was there having a browse, Buddy was humming along to a Beatles record playing on a turntable.  After a few minutes I joined in.

Lost luggage, coffee sack cushions and a 16th century ladder - a few of the re-purposed treasures at LASSCO

On one side of the alley is a huge warehouse and retail space owned by architectural  salvaging specialist LASSCO. Their shop is beautifully organized and filled with interesting re-purposed goods making it a destination unto itself.  

Opposite LASSCO and spanning the length of Ropewalk is a succession of 6 metre high, arch-fronted weathered brick barrel vaults.  Above the barrel vaults is a railway bridge.  Altogether the opposite of a pretty Farmers' Market scene.

During the week, LASSCO stockpiles reclaimed wood, floorboards, and industrial equipment within the barrel vaults. But on the weekends, food vendors arrive to create pop-up cafes, complete with cooking equipment, tables, chairs, and food displays, transforming the space from industrial stockyard to the Maltby Street Market.

And why not?  The stockyard is closed on the weekends and given London's often wet weather, the arches are a perfect place to keep dry and set up dining and food prep areas.

I'd be the first to admit that it sounds odd on paper but this unlikely union creates a unique, vibrant, and completely enchanting place.  Photographically it was a gem.

Having lived in Monaco and France for almost 15 years, a collaboration of this sort would be unlikely here.  Interdit!  Pas possible!  Complètement fous!  (Not allowed!, not possible!, completely crazy!)  But here it was in London, it was genius, and by 10 o'clock it was completely packed and buzzing with customers.

If you're looking to buy fruits and vegetables you'd probably be better off fighting the crowds at the Borough MarketIf, on the other hand, you're looking for a place to meet friends, do a bit of shopping and enjoy a meal of sustainable foods prepared by passionate British food artisans, in an unusual and inspired setting, this would be it.

Bring your camera, an appetite and arrive early.


One fresh food vendor and a Focaccia craftsman
Oysters with herb butter, spinakopita and beautiful bread
Salmon, vendors, and forklift
The menu at Comptoir Gourmand


Heather Robinson said...

That looks right up my alley! Er, street! ;) Thank you for sharing this and it is a treat to watch your photography getting better and better...

Gustia said...

You are so sweet to say so. Thank you. And yes, it would be right up your alley. We need to go sometime.

Jambican said...

Lovely and makes sense.. A gathering of creative producers.

suzanne said...

as liz lemon would say, "I want to go to there!"

Gustia said...

You would have loved it. Really good energy.

Karen Barnaby said...

That is way too fantastic! I have friends in London. Hmm....

Gustia said...

It was really quite the experience. I hope the concept catches on.

kathy said...

Sounds like a wonderful place. You really need to post more often.