The Globe at Borough Market

In 1977 I was taking some photos around Southwark using my brand new Canon AE-1, purchased using hire purchase as at the time it was the only way I could afford such a camera, and I was desperate to replace the cheap Russian Zenit camera I had been using. The main feature of this camera seemed to be a sticking shutter which ruined far too many photos.

A couple of these photos were of the Globe at Borough Market. A very different market to the market of today.

Globe at Borough Market

The same view 43 years later in 2020:

Globe at Borough Market

The Globe was built in 1872 to a design by architect Henry Jarvis. A lovely brick pub, the paint on the external walls in my 1977 photo has since been removed to reveal the original brickwork.

When I took the original photo, Borough Market was a very different place. Selling all types of fruit, vegetables, potatoes etc. The market started very early in the morning mainly selling to businesses such as the shops and restaurants of south London.

The narrow aisles between the market stalls meant that vehicles could not easily enter the market so porters were employed to transfer goods from lorries parked in the streets, into the market.

One of the barrows used by a porter is outside the corner entrance to the pub. This was why I took the photo as the barrow and pub seemed to be a good combination that in many ways summed up a London market at the time. There is another barrow parked alongside the Globe at left.

There were a number of pubs surrounding Borough Market, catering to the needs of those who worked in the market, which included being open much earlier in the morning than a normal London pub. Reading the licence information above the door of the Globe gives an indication of days and times that the pub served the market, and the trades of those who were expected in the Globe:

“NOTICE PURSUANT TO THE LICENSING ACT 1964 – Intoxicating liquors are permitted to be sold and supplied in these premises between the hours of six-thirty and eight-thirty of the clock on the morning of Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday of each week. Excepting Christmas Day, Good Friday and Bank Holidays for the accommodation of persons following their lawful trade of calling as Salesmen, Buyers, Carmen, Assistants or Porters and attending a Public Market at the Borough of Southwark”.

Another photo of the Globe in 1977:

Globe at Borough Market

And in 2020. The days of selling Double Diamond are long gone.

Globe at Borough Market

In the above photo, at the very top right corner, you can just see an edge of the Thameslink Viaduct that was built over Borough Market between 2009 and 2013.

The first floor of the Globe was the film location for Bridget Jones flat in the 2001 film Bridget Jones Diary.

Globe – the name of the pub in stone above the windows, seen in both the 1977 and 2020 photos:

Globe at Borough Market

If you go back to the photo at the top of the post, and look along the left side of the street, and in the distance is an arch with a sign above. The sign still remains although Lee Brothers Potato Merchants have long gone.

Globe at Borough Market

The origins of Borough Market are ancient, dating back for at least 1,000 years. Originally a market at the southern end of London Bridge, however by 1754 the City of London was fed up with the Southwark entrance to the bridge being congested by a market, and that the market was taking business away from the City markets. A bill was introduced to Parliament to stop the market trading in March 1756.

The local residents were not happy with the loss of their market and raised £6,000 to buy an area of land called The Triangle, and this became the new home of what is today Borough Market.

The market flourished, and the arrival of the railways with their local goods yards increased the volume of fruit, veg, etc. being sold at the market.

The end of the wholesale market started in the late 1970s and continued in the early 1980s. The City of London constructed New Covent Garden market in Nine Elms. This was a much larger market with considerably easier access and plenty of parking, unlike at Borough Market.

In parallel was the gradual replacement of the traditional corner shop and green grocer by much larger supermarkets who had their own supply chain and had no need to purchase fruit and veg from a local market such as Borough.

The market’s renaissance started in the late 1990s when specialist food suppliers started to move in, and food fairs were organised. Borough Market has since gone from strength to strength, and on most days (prior to the Covid-19 pandemic) it would be crowded with tourists and shoppers.

When walking among the stalls, it almost looks as if you could buy a different cheese for every single day of the year.

Along with the market traders, a wide range of restaurants have opened surrounding the market, and the old pubs that once served the market porters at 6:30 in the morning, have a new lease of life and are serving a very different customer – no longer are barrows left outside the pub door.

One of the pubs surrounding the market is the appropriately named The Market Porter on the corner of Stoney Street and Park Street.

Globe at Borough Market

The Market Porter dates from 1890, however the site was previously occupied by a pub named the Harrow.

Further along Stoney Street is another pub that looks in a rather strange location, squashed by the railway bridge directly above the pub. This is the Wheatsheaf:

Globe at Borough Market

The current Wheatsheaf building dates from 1840, although a pub had been on the site since the 18th century. It originally had three floors and was part of a terrace. The pub lost the third floor when the pub closed in 2009 for the construction of the Thameslink Viaduct which now runs directly overhead. The Wheatsheaf reopened in 2014 in its new, cramped looking condition, however thankfully this historic pub survived such a dramatic change.

Construction of the Thameslink Viaduct was a significant engineering achievement, with building such a structure above a working market. The viaduct runs for 322 metres across the market, and during construction, work included the removal and replacement of the market’s historic roof.

The following photo shows the Wheatsheaf in 1943, in its original condition (the building on the right), along with the same style of barrow that I would photograph in 1977:

Globe at Borough Market

Image credit: London Metropolitan Archives, City of London: catalogue ref: SC_PHL_01_376_F1582

On the corner of Stoney Street and Southwark Street is the Southwark Tavern, a lovely Victorian corner pub dating from 1862:

Globe at Borough Market

However a more remarkable building is alongside the Southwark Tavern. This is the imposing Hop and Malt Exchange.

Globe at Borough Market

The Hop and Malt Exchange dates from 1867 and was designed by the architect R.H. Moore, and was the premises of the Hop Planters Association.

The frontage along Southwark Street is 340 feet and it covered more than an acre of land.

Although the building looks impressive today, it was originally a much taller building, however after a fire in 1920 which gutted much of the building, the top two floors were demolished. The original, larger facade just after the fire can be seen in the photo below:

Globe at Borough Market

Image credit: London Metropolitan Archives, City of London: catalogue ref: C_PHL_01_375_574c_2

The Hop and Malt Exchange was built in Southwark, as it was close to the main railway stations and goods depots that served the hop growing counties of Kent, Sussex and Surrey and provided a place were growers and buyers could meet in one place to conduct the sale of hops.

The main entrance to the Hop and Malt Exchange:

Globe at Borough Market

The pediment above the main entrance contains some wonderful decoration showing hop and malt production. Hops being grown and picked in the centre. Barley being grown on the right for the production of malt, with these products being carried in a sack on a barrow on the left.

Globe at Borough Market

Looking through the iron gates of the entrance (which are also beautifully decorated), we can glimpse the main Exchange Room:

Globe at Borough Market

The Exchange Room was the central point for trading activities. It was 80 feet long by 50 feet wide and 75 feet was the original height to the top floor. The roof was glass allowing plenty of natural light to shine on the floor below. There was a central lantern feature running along the length of the roof, and in the pre-fire building, this was 115 feet above the floor of the Exchange Room.

The Exchange Room was surrounded by four floors of offices and show rooms where growers could show off their products to potential buyers. First and second class refreshment rooms were also provided. Presumably you used the first class when trying to impress a buyer, and the second class for normal refreshment.

A view of the Exchange Room after opening:

Globe at Borough Market

Today, the Hop and Malt Exchange has been restored and is currently a location providing office, corporate hospitality and a live events space, so in some ways is still true to the original use of the building – although no longer trading in hops and malt.

Borough Market and the Hop and Malt Exchange highlight that this area was a significant place for trading agricultural products. What started off as a market on the southern end of London Bridge, grew considerably with the arrival of the railways. Road and rail access to the southern agricultural counties turned this part of Southwark into a key location where London’s shops, restaurants and breweries could negotiate and buy the key agricultural products they needed for their business.

My 1977 photo captured the very end of that long period, but Borough Market still remains serving a new, 21st century customer.

21 thoughts on “The Globe at Borough Market

  1. Paul Ridgway

    As for the hop business, the old three figure telephone exchange number for the Borough was HOPbinder, that is 407.

    1. Trevor Haynes

      Having seen pictures of trams terminating in Southwark Street, showing HOP EXCHANGE as the destination, I used to think they terminated at a telephone exchange! London’s trams were never allowed into the City, so they terminated at the nearest convenient point, the Hop Exchange being one and the extreme southern point of Southwark Bridge another.

  2. Janice

    My brother Keith had a stall in the market selling mushrooms and soup for much of the early 2000`s until his death 10 years ago.

  3. Don Tallon

    Thanks so much for this article. It brings back many memories of my childhood. The Borough Market was one of the many of the ‘playgrounds’ that I and my brother used to visit back in the late ‘50s and early’ ‘60s. You see, we lived in Park Street (referenced in your article when mentioning the Market Ported pub), but at the western end adjacent to Southwark Bridge where our parents were licensees of a now demolished pub called the Windmill. It was a Courage and Barclay pub (which the Wheatsheaf mentioned in your article was later to become) and we used to exchange stock if either pub was running low. We often walked through the then wholesale Borough Market to London Bridge station to catch a train to visit cousins In Forest Hill on Sunday afternoons. Many’s the time that me and my brother (and cousins) would play on those porters’ barrows!

  4. Judy

    Lovely post! I’m definitely going to explore that area whenever I get back to London. (I had a sweet little workhorse Zenit too, with its funny little light meter. I loved that camera, but let it go in the digital age.)

  5. Charles

    Brings back memories of the pre-trendy Borough area. Becky’s Dive Bar was in the basement of the Hop and Malt Exchange in 1973 when I first started working nearby. My colleague Clive was a CAMRA member and he took me there to drink the Ruddle’s ales on a few occasions. It was a pretty insanitary place (see this post ) and our boss warned us that we should wear bicycle clips to stop the rats running up our trouser legs.

  6. Randy Moore

    Love this area; my company had offices in Thames House, at Park Street and Red Cross Way in the late 1980’s. Visited The Globe several times, but for lunches we typically frequented The Market Porter, The Southwark Tavern, Old Thameside Inn, The Anchor, The George and The Hop Cellar (was in the Hop Exchange building). I recall walking through the market from London Bridge to Park Street, dodging fork trucks and piles of decaying veg, trying not to get my suit spotted. This was just prior to the gentrification of that neighborhood, which even at that time we knew was inevitable. But I just love the Victorian architecture and streetscapes of the area.

  7. Alan White

    Great post as usual. South east London is my area. Born in Peckham in 1945, Wapping, The City, Greenwich, The old Kent road, Bermondsey, Dulwich, Camberwell, Forest Hill, Sydenham, I could go on!! Love those areas. I left in 1967 at 22 and worked all around the world primarily in Australia. Retired in 2012 and moved back to Europe with my Dutch wife. We live now in Belgium. Try to get to London 3-4 times a year but of course not this year. Whenever we take friends or family with us to London Greenwich, Peckham, and of course Borough market are always on the itinerary. I have always loved the fact that London the greatest city in the world is what shaped me.

  8. James Adlam

    The Southwark Tavern is reputed to have been built on the site of a debtors’ prison. I don’t know if that’s true, but the basement drinking area is divided into little rooms that definitely look like cells.

  9. John McGrory

    I really enjoyed this article, thanks.

    My parents were running and lived in the Globe when I was born in 1978, so seeing the photos from that time is fascinating. I’ve popped in more than a few times if I’ve been working in London… in fact, when I visited around 2005, a barmaid who’d worked for my parents was still working (Mary, I believe) and she remembered me!

    I’m not sure on the etiquette on asking for this, but if you were to have some hi-res digital images created from your photos, my family and I would be extremely grateful?

    Either way, thanks for a great article!

  10. Beryl James

    Hello, I found this article very interesting mainly because in the 60s and 70s my husband worked for what was then British Railways. He and a colleague were sent to the tunnels under London Bridge to sort out some paperwork which was kept there. While doing so they found two very old pewter mugs hidden in the roof. I still have the one that my husband found, inscribed The Globe Borough market with a very ornate W P, this has always fascinated me and I often wonder who W P was? Was he a famous customer? Any interest ?


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