Opening Times: Tuesday to Sunday: 10am to-5.30pm Getting there: Greenwich Market, London, SE10 9HZ, nearest tube: Cutty Sark (DLR) Social: Contact the market on Twitter and Facebook to find out the latest news and up-to-the-minute information. Greenwich Market has been around since the early 1800s. Like many other London markets, the Victorians made this one a much more permanent institution by covering it with a fantastic wrought-iron structure in 1845. Since then the market has gone from strength to strength, with the roof protecting you from the elements (making it a firm favourite with Christmas shoppers!). From wood-turners to blacksmiths and jewellers to quilters, this is the place to see designers and craftspeople actually at work on pieces. Surrounding the stalls are shop units where you can buy everything from modern art to superb shoes and at the entrance to the market you can't fail to be enticed in with the aromas of street food. Based in the heart of Royal Greenwich, just a stones throw from the Thames, and surrounded by pubs, restaurants and boutiques, this is a must-visit destination for anyone hunting for that perfect gift.
I spoke to Market Manager, Ben Niblett, to find out more about this ever-evolving jewel in the heart of Greenwich and plans to open seven days a week. Tell me a little bit about Greenwich Market?
"In the last four years we have been concentrating on being a predominantly craft market. We have hand-picked independent designers and craftspeople, mainly local suppliers, to help change the general make-up of the market. This has been a gradual process to ensure we get the balance right for customers and visitors, and create the right blend of shops and stalls. Many of our traders have moved into the shops surrounding the market and we even now have a craft workshop above the market, where offices used to be. We have an average of around 150 stalls on a main day - right down to maybe 20 on a freezing cold February!"
What other changes have you seen and what does the future look like?
"We have increased our food options over the years, people want to have the option of grabbing a bite to eat, but we have to make sure we don't take too much space away from the dealers. At the moment we are open six days a week (except Monday's) but from Easter we are hoping to go seven days a week. On Tuesdays we tend to have collectables, Wednesday is a focus on crafts and on a Thursday antiques take over. Friday's are generally a mixture of stalls and at the weekend, you can buy arts and crafts. Having these identities mean you know what you are going to get which ever day you visit. We have invested a lot of money in the market, with new-style stalls and we are working hard on the site so we can open every day of the week." [slideshow_deploy id='10060']
What is your advice for someone wanting to set up a market stall?
"I don't think people realise how cheap it can be to get started, We have trial days during the week for traders starting from as little as £10. This gives them a chance to try it out and see for themselves whether they are the right fit for the market, and vice versa. It's almost like a nursery or training ground for first-time traders. It gives them a chance to learn their craft as they start out and build their confidence. The general atmosphere with our traders is supportive, you often see collaborations for instance, which adds to the opportunity to learn and grow. It's pretty old-school, clearly these days people have a website offering, so taking a stall can be a little bit of a leap of faith for some people, but it can reap dividends."
What can you expect from a visit to Greenwich Market?
"We think we have a good affordable offering and are trying to appeal to as many people as possible. We are a really good place for families to visit, and we try and put on events for kids in the holidays. Of course we welcome tourists, but we haven't gone down the route of selling the obvious "London" stuff. In fact they often visit and are delighted to go home with something bespoke and personal, like a locally made pot of jam. You know you can buy a unique gift that has been handmade by a local. We have also become a market for the locals to come and shop and it has a real "neighbourhood feel". Greenwich is proving very popular with people travelling down from the city. It is easily accessible by train and tube, along with the river boat and The Cutty Sark attraction reopening has also given us a massive boost. This, with the parks and museums, means this is the place to visit for a day out."
To read our other special market features, including our "Guide to London Markets" - check out the links below.