Leather Lane, EC1N 7TS
Tube: Farringdon, Chancery Lane
Open: Monday-Friday 10.30am-2pm
For years Leather Lane stood as a fine example of a general weekday market providing groceries and household goods to the locals of Clerkenwell. There are still remnants of that old atmosphere and local charm, but recently many of the market's stalwarts have left, including the well known stall at the top of the market selling discounted magazines. In there place have arrived street food businesses offering food from all over the globe and drawing in a hungry lunch time crowd.
The range of food here and the number of food stalls is remarkable and includes Indian curry, Thai food provided by Yum Bowl (also on Whitecross Street). The Caribbean jerk chicken is another favourite with the local shop workers in search of some spicy protein on their lunch break. The Korean fast food stall has long queues and plenty of regulars coming back for more. Further along a stall specialising in vegan food makes delicious lentil wraps with salad. Of course before all the street food arrived there was always a much loved baked potato van and they are still here and still serving up their delicious slow baked potatoes with plenty of fillings to choose from.
The change in style has left some of the more traditional stalls a bit surprised. Lisa has been selling bags on the street for 27 years and wanders what's happened:
With a cheerful smile and a shrug she goes about her business, tidying her stock and waiting for some last minute trade before packing away.
The flower stall run by Louise and her partner is another established business offering great value cut flowers and a small selection of healthy looking pot plants. Her cucumber plants for just a few quid are proving really popular with the local Indian shoppers who love to grow and eat there own fresh vegetables. Further along is one of the few surviving fruit and veg stalls run by Michael, who explains that after university and an office job, he really liked helping his grandfather on the market and eventually decided to hang up the suit and take over the stall. After 15 years here he still enjoys it and even loves the street food and the new traders who regularly give him a free lunch, which is often rewarded with some veg on the house.
At the far end of the market is a small square where most of the clothing is now concentrated. The emphasis here is on cheap street fashion and there are plenty of good quality bargains to be found with few items over £10. Another regular at this part of the market is the cheap packaged food stall with lots of biscuits, sweets and tinned foods. It's a comfort to see a few of the old style stalls still selling their wares, lets hope they can continue.