Ensuring that the quality of fish sold in London has been one of the responsibilities of the Fishmongers’ Company since the middle ages. For more details see www.fishhall.org.uk/ and http://www.billingsgate-market.org.uk/
|A general view of the market hall. This, and the picture below, taken from http://www.seafoodtraining.org/ the website for the Seafood Training School run at Billingsgate Market by the Fishmongers' Company and offering a wide range of interesting courses. |
|A view of the entrance to the market. Canary Wharf on the left. |
I can also remember the pervasive urban myth at the time of the move that the deep freeze storage in the basement of the old Billingsgate had created a crust of permafrost that kept the building firm on its foundations and that once turned off it would melt slowly into the Thames. Urban myths are usually far more exciting than the reality and the building, restored by Norman Foster, still stands.
Back to Billingsgate. As we arrived the market was in full swing, it is open betwen 5.00 and 8.30. The Fishmongers maintain, at their own expense, a small team of inspectors to ensure the high quality of seafood sold at New Billingsgate
The Fishmongers’ inspectors took us round the main trading floor. This comprises a over fifty dealers with varying sized stands selling a huge variety of species. We were initiated into a whole range of useful information. How to spot a factory farmed turbot from a distance, the way that species of fish differed in detailed colour and texture depending where they are caught and the huge expansion of more exotic species, led by the ubiquitous tilapia, being introduced into the trade.
Afterwards it was back up river to Fishmongers' Hall by the commuter catamaran for a breakfast that, of course, included a good, fishy kedgeree.