Metropolitan Cattle Market Pubs

It’s surprising how much of the history of London is effectively hidden, even when it’s out in public. Perhaps, strangely, it’s never more hidden than when it’s surrounded by housing. There is very little remaining in the residential area of (Lower) Holloway between Caledonian Road and York Way that gives much indication of its former usage during the late-19th and early years of the 20th century. For it was here, on an area once known as Copenhagen Fields, that the Metropolitan Cattle Market was based for half a century from 1855 after moving from Smithfield.1 Even when the livestock had moved elsewhere, the Caledonian Market continued in its place until the First World War, when its largely antiques-based trade moved to Bermondsey.

The Lamb (Holloway N7), now closed
Figure 22. The Lamb (Holloway N7), now closed.

What is left, then, apart from its magnificent clocktower2 and some old iron railings along Market Road, are the pubs which served the market and stood at its four corners. A plan dated 1862-1871 (reproduced on the market’s Wikipedia entry) shows the layout of the site most clearly.

Of the four corner pubs, three have been preserved. At the south-west corner, The Black Bull has made way for council tower blocks of the Caledonian Market Estate (as have the Queen’s Arms and the City Arms along the northern side, just off North Road). However, the other three buildings — The Lion at the north-west corner, The White Horse (now a building named ‘The Gin Palace’) at the south-east, and The Lamb (fig. 22) at the north-east — all survive. The last of these still boasts its pub regalia, though like the others is now sadly closed. There was one other pub called The Butcher’s Arms at the south-west along Brewery Road, another access road to the market.

Of course, even if this area is no longer a destination for most Londoners, there are still plenty of active markets with prominent pubs, about which I hope to write in future.

[1] The area where Copenhagen House and its surrounding estates stood, between York Way and Caledonian Road, north of the canal, is in fact sometimes referred to as ‘Copenhagen’. Historical details used in this post can be found in the entry under this name in Willey (2006), p. 117. (See Bibliography for further details.)
[2] The clocktower stands at the north side of what is now Caledonian Park, right in the centre of where the Meat Market was situated.

11 responses to “Metropolitan Cattle Market Pubs

  1. Great site, I have added this page to my social bookmarks

  2. My G Grandmother was born in a Pub opposite the Cattle Markets on the corner of York Way and Camden Park Road, the Pub was called “The City of London”, it now has been demolished sadly.

  3. Kate, thanks for your post. I have been looking for info about this pub. I couldn’t remember what it was called. You wouldn’t happen to have a photo of it?!

  4. Thanks Cat for the prompt.
    Kate, sorry I was waylaid and forgot about the photo. I would love to see it too.

  5. i am looking for information on the black bull public house . on market rd. .. what happen to it wand when?
    any details . thanks alan

  6. the last of the 4 pubs .the Red Lion closed last Oct 2014.i am currently looking into the history of the Black far it is not on the OS mape on 1905. the building is there but not names. the other 3 pubs are operating. I lived in the area from 1951-1968.. around 1960-65 it was pulled down to make way for the Corporation of London flat .Lambfold House ,built around this time and still there now..

  7. Hi
    My Nan and grandad monty and kit owned the white horse in the 60’s and I am trying to find a photo from this time if anyone is reading this and has one or has a way of me being able to get one please get in contact regards

  8. fantastic , i bet she had some great stories. It is a great place to live today.
    And great view from he top.

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