Located on the doorstep of Canary Wharf, Billingsgate Fish Market is the largest inland fish market in the UK, covering 13 acres of land behind Barclays HQ.
An average of 25,000 tonnes of seafood are sold through its merchants each year, with the ground floor of the building containing a large trading hall with 98 stands and 30 shops a well as two cafes, cold rooms, a 1,500 tonne freezer, an ice making plant and 14 lock-up stores.
But some might be unsure of which day to go, what time to go and what to do when they go there for the first time.
For those Billingsgate Beginners, CJ Jackson, CEO of Billingsgate Seafood School, has provided eight tips to prepare fish eaters for their first trip.
1. Wear the right clothes
With the opening hours from 4am to 8am, it can get quite cold, especially with the number of fridges and chilled fish. So CJ recommends closed toe, non-slip shoes and a jacket is a must.
2. Bring cash
Yes, even in 2016 and the era of contactless cards, many merchants won’t take a card or cheques so make sure you bring enough cash with you. Not a problem with Canary Wharf and its cash points close by.
3. Choose your day
Members of the public come to the market in hordes on a Saturday – so give yourself plenty of time to park, shop and choose. Friday is often a better day as it is less busy.
4. Choose your time
The market opens at 4am and it is busy with wholesale buyers. We think the best time to come is around 6-6.30am. Merchants who don’t break up boxes of fish and focus on wholesale will be off the market by then.
5. Don’t haggle
The merchants will sell small quantities of fish, but they don’t take kindly to haggling over price as the mark up is very small anyway.
6. Take time to look around
Check out the whole market before buying anything and always check the price. Know what to look for in a fresh fish too.
7. Don’t forget to stop by the cafe
According to CJ, the cafe has the best bacon sarnies and full English breakfast in London
8. Take advantage of Billingsgate Seafood School
If you want to join one of the early market visits, educational trips that help participants buy fish and include breakfast, call the school on 0207 517 3548.
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