West Poultry Avenue, Smithfield EC1

I set off to go and draw the architecture of the South Bank. Walking through West Smithfield on the way, I thought, The South Bank will always be there, but Smithfield is about to be redeveloped. Draw it Now.

Green painted iron protectors for the door posts.

So here is Denton Bros , on the corner of West Poultry Avenue and West Smithfield. I like this building. The green objects at the base of the doorposts are made of iron. I think they must be to protect the brickwork from being bashed by market trolleys. The windows are well made and ornate. The lower panes are wood, which must have been for some specific purpose. I wonder if it is so the supervisors can open a wooden door and lean out to examine proceedings below. Or perhaps it was to stop lowly clerks on the first floor from wasting time looking out of the window.

Denton Bros. West Smithfield.

Smithfield is the main wholesale Meat Market in London. The East part of the Market is fully operational. Opening hours are 2am to about 7am, Monday to Friday. It sells meat to restaurants and butchers, and also to any members of the general public who show up. It has been open right through the pandemic, which has been very useful.

The West part of the market is dilapidated, as you see in the picture. It was due to be demolished in 2012 and replaced by restaurants, offices. The demolition was prevented by campaigning groups, ‘Save Britain’s Heritage’, and others. Now the plan is that the Museum of London will relocate there, from its current site in the Barbican. They will preserve the façade of the existing buildings. See the picture below. The place I drew will be part of the “portal” welcoming visitors in. Here is a an extract from the Museum of London website, downloaded 2nd June.

Visitors will enter through West Poultry Avenue. It will be both part of the city and a portal to the museum, and its character will remain that of a street. It will be a place of arrival, orientation and promise. Our team will welcome visitors and help them to navigate the museum – and, if they need it, the city itself. From here, visitors will move into the General Market or the Poultry Market, or they can stop awhile for a drink in The Cocoa Rooms café. This space will reflect London in real time – the present not the past, the London we experience today, the 24-hour city, constantly on the move. Data visualisations incorporated into the street will reflect London in the moment.

Here is where the new Museum of London will be, and what it will look like. You can recognise the building I drew.

The existing wholesale Meat Market, in the eastern part of the site, will relocate to Barking, that’s the plan. I don’t know what will go where the eastern market is now.

I had better do some more sketching around Smithfield, before the whole thing is swathed in plastic and transformed. Here is work in progress on the sketch. It took one and a half hours. The colours are: Phthalo Turquoise, Mars Yellow, Perylene Maroon and a bit of Transparent Pyrrol Orange.

Here are some maps to show you where it is. Click to enlarge.

Here is a collection of my drawings of Smithfield: click on the words to see more information.

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