Nine Elms Lane, SW8 5ALwww.saundersmarkets.co.ukRail: Battersea Park, Queenstown RoadRail/Tube: VauxhallOpen: Sunday 7am-2pm
Vauxhall Market has changed a lot in recent years and is bigger and more popular than ever – there are now signs for the market in Vauxhall tube station, giving some indication of just how important it is to the area. The signs are usually not needed – just follow the crowds heading in the direction of the market on any Sunday. The social make up of the area and those coming to the market has also changed with many of London’s Eastern European and African communities visiting and trading here. You can hear anything from Russian to Yoruba spoken, amid the cockney, as you make you make your way towards the event.
The market takes place in the concrete landscape and steel warehousing of New Covent Garden wholesale market and the Sunday market is managed by Saunders Markets on behalf of the New Covent Garden Market Authority. The site might lack the charm of places like Portobello and Brick Lane, but it does have an atmosphere all of its own, complete with loud music, the smell of freshly cooked foods and the sounds of thousands of people chatting and joking as they wonder the isles in search of a bargain.
Clothing is a big feature of the market with several stalls offering piles of boxer shorts, t-shirts, ladies’ underwear and socks at incredibly low prices. It’s worth looking around before you part with your cash, because further into the market there are stalls offering high quality high street returns and surplus stock for a fraction of the the usual price and nearly all the garments sell for between five and ten pounds. There are also great shoe stalls offering anything from workaday boots to designer trainers, but all at well below shop prices. Kitchenware, bedding, toys, fake flowers, plants, DIY tools and materials, towels and bedding are all to be found here with the one common denominator being very low prices. Ironically, although New Covent Garden is one of the country’s largest fruit and veg wholesale markets there is only a limited range of veg on a Sunday. What is available is good value with lots of fruit and veg sold by the box or large bag for just a few quid.
Running parallel to the market is a large car boot sale run by the same organisers. The far end of the concrete complex is the heart of the car boot, Here you can find lots of second-hand gear including bikes, tools, second-hand clothing and all kinds of car boot clobber from a china Alsatian to a well used industrial drill. Visitors will find it hard to tell where the market ends and the car boot sale starts, but in truth the market and car boot combine to make one event with a great mix of new and used things.
This feature is taken from our forthcoming book:London’s Markets by Andrew Kershman