First designs of £337m Museum of London set to move next to Smithfield Market are unveiled

These are the first designs of the planned, new £337million Museum of London, which is set to be one the capital’s top tourist attractions if its bid is successful.

Currently based one mile away at the Barbican, the Museum would move down the road into largely derelict buildings by the old Smithfield Market in Farringdon, London.   

If the bid to construct a new museum one mile away in West Smithfield is accepted, museum bosses hope the massive new exhibit will be open to the public by 2024. 

These are the first designs of the new Museum of London which is set to be one the capital’s top tourist attractions. It is set to move into derelict buildings next to the Smithfield Meat Market, in Farringdon

Proposals to move the Museum over to Farringdon were submitted last month, revealing its floor space would double from its current 12,500sqm at the Barbican to 26,000sqm. 

With seven million exhibits detailing thousands of years of history, the hopefully-new and improved Museum of London is expected to be a major tourist attraction. 

The Museum of London, which already attracts 700,000 people annually, hopes to double the number of visitors – up to 1,500,000 per year – by moving down the road. 

The new museum, should it plans to move one mile down the road be accepted, hopes to be 26,000sqm - double the size of the existing Museum at the Barbican - at just 12,500sqm

The new museum, should it plans to move one mile down the road be accepted, hopes to be 26,000sqm – double the size of the existing Museum at the Barbican – at just 12,500sqm

The museum - which has seven million exhibits - is expected to be the top-10 in London and will be open 24 hours a day. It documents the history of the UK's capital city from prehistoric to modern times attracting 700,000 people annually

The museum – which has seven million exhibits – is expected to be the top-10 in London and will be open 24 hours a day. It documents the history of the UK’s capital city from prehistoric to modern times attracting 700,000 people annually

The City of London Corporation contributed £197million to deliver the scheme along with £70million by the Mayor of London. It replaces The Smithfield Market which can be traced back as early as the 10th century on the same site

The City of London Corporation contributed £197million to deliver the scheme along with £70million by the Mayor of London. It replaces The Smithfield Market which can be traced back as early as the 10th century on the same site

Over the past five years the cost of the prestigious project has ballooned and the timescale has been pushed back significantly. The Museum of London attributes this to an increase in floor space, a change in layout when adjacent buildings became available and the historic market buildings being in a worse state than was first thought

Over the past five years the cost of the prestigious project has ballooned and the timescale has been pushed back significantly. The Museum of London attributes this to an increase in floor space, a change in layout when adjacent buildings became available and the historic market buildings being in a worse state than was first thought

The Annexe buildings, currently with a 1960s infill, would be renovated, while the sheer scale of the plot would allow museum planners to stage a series of street festivals.

Visitors could enjoy perusing object stories dating back thousands of years, split between the two main buildings on the site – the Poultry Market and the General Market.

Whereas the General Market would be home to vaults, galleries, a huge central display, a restaurant, and a cafe and shop, museum goers could slip through a new build joining both market halls to observe learning and exhibition workshops, as well as miscellaneous learning centres. 

Sharon Ament, director of the Museum, said: ‘This is an important milestone for the project, as we formally set out our plans to transform the West Smithfield site and in doing so transform the idea of what a museum can be.

‘It has been [more than] four years of hard work by a dedicated and talented project team in order to get here and, while we still have a while to go and money to raise before we open the doors to the new museum, this is nevertheless a significant step forward to turning our vision into reality.’

Paul Williams OBE, principal director at the Stanton Williams, lead project architect, added: ‘The opportunity to help reinvent, reimagine and transform a group of existing market buildings into a 21st century museum is an extraordinary opportunity – especially in an area of London so rich in history.’

Over the past five years the cost of the project has ballooned, pushing the schedule back significantly.

The Museum of London attributes this to an increase in floor space, a change in layout when adjacent buildings become available, and the historic market buildings being in a worse state than was first thought.

The competition had an indicative price tag of £150million but when the scheme went out to consultation in the summer it had grown again to £332million. The City of London Corporation contributed £197million to the scheme, along with £70million by the Mayor of London.

Fleet Market (above) was set up to the west of Smithfield, after the River Fleet was covered over in 1736

Fleet Market (above) was set up to the west of Smithfield, after the River Fleet was covered over in 1736 

It would replace derelict buildings in West Smithfield, next to Smithfield Meat Market, the prigins of which can be traced back as far as the 10th century on the same site. 

Smithfield was described by clerk William Fitzstephen in 1174 as a ‘smooth field where every Friday there is a celebrated rendezvous of fine horses to be traded, and in another quarter are placed vendibles of the peasant, swine with their deep flanks, and cows and oxen of immense bulk.’

The market supplies inner City butchers, shops and restaurants with quality fresh meat, with trading starting as early as 2am with most of the trade completed by 8am. 

A young boy (above) is pictured pushing a trolley in front of the Central Meat Market at Smithfield, around 1890

A young boy (above) is pictured pushing a trolley in front of the Central Meat Market at Smithfield, around 1890

This wonderful photograph shows butchers down at Smithfield Market selling Christmas turkeys to the public, from 1958

This wonderful photograph shows butchers down at Smithfield Market selling Christmas turkeys to the public, from 1958 

A tower in London's Smithfield Market is pictured undergoing demolition, as German bombing during the Second World War had made it unsafe. A crowd gathered to watch the spectacle in 1941

A tower in London’s Smithfield Market is pictured undergoing demolition, as German bombing during the Second World War had made it unsafe. A crowd gathered to watch the spectacle in 1941

One butcher can be seen auctioning meat to the public during the Christmas Eve Auction at Smithfield, December 2015

One butcher can be seen auctioning meat to the public during the Christmas Eve Auction at Smithfield, December 2015 

Villains, wars, and lots of flesh… the amazing history of London’s old Smithfield Market 

A painting from the 1800s shows livestock traders negotiating with customers at the historic market

A painting from the 1800s shows livestock traders negotiating with customers at the historic market

Smithfield is the largest and oldest EU approved wholesale meat market in the country. 

The large London market, designed by architect Sir Horace Jones, is over 140 years old, set up in 1860 by an Act of Parliament on Charterhouse Street. Livestock, however, has been traded on the site for around 900 years. 

Originally known as Smoothfield, the area was a large open space just outside the city boundaries on the edge of St Bartholomew’s Priory, used as a vast recreational area in the 12th century where jousts and tournaments took place. 

By the late Middle Ages the area had become the most famous livestock market in the country.

Smithfield was used as a place of execution for criminals, including Wat Tyler, leader of the Peasants’ Revolt, and Scottish hero William Wallace, from the early 13th century. 

It was also the location of Bartholomew Fair – three days of three days of merrymaking, dancing, selling and music which over the centuries became the most debauched and drunken holiday in the calendar.     

The market was closed during the Second World War for storage purposes, and to act as the theatre of secret British government experiments – and was even bombed during the Blitz.

Its original Poultry Market, now a Grade-II listed building was destroyed by a fire in 1958, but was reopened in the 1960s.  

 

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