While lying in bed at 5am on a dry, dark weekday morning in early October, I really didn’t think that getting up for my tour around Billingsgate Fish Market was such a great idea. But I changed my mind as I walked up to Billingsgate Market, in the dark, and realized that a lot goes on here long before the rest of the city is even having their first cuppa. The parking lot before me was heaving with activity with lorries and people scattered in organized chaos.
Based in the heart of the Docklands the market is Britain’s largest inland fish market with over 25,000 tonnes of fish passing through annually supplying shops, restaurants (including Four Seasons Hotel London at Canary Wharf) and the public with some of the countries freshest seafood. We got an inside look into the daily comings and goings of the market through the market’s seafood training school, a non-profit organisation established to increase awareness of the industry to school children as well as educate those already in the industry, or for curious foodies like us.
The 12 of us from the hotel were split up into two groups. Because there is so much activity on the floor and the possibility of getting run over shifting seafood is a very real possibility, groups are kept small. My group was fortunate to have the Principal and Chief Executive, Ms. CJ Jackson, lead our tour. She was knowledgeable and engaging though it was her banter with the fish mongers that made this tour for me. As the first woman porter on the floor, she had to prove herself but it seems that she has and then some.
At the end of the hour-long tour, we all had a small breakfast and then it was off to work. It was strange to accomplish so much even before the day had started. I did carry back a rather fishy smell apparently, but that’s okay. My colleagues got used to it eventually.
Top Tip: Check out the school website for a wide variety of classes that cater to a variety of interests.
Tracey Chatters, Communications Manager at Four Seasons Hotel London at Canary Wharf. Tracey is a Canadian who has been working and living in London for 3 years.