Columbia Road is still one of my most favourite places to stroll through on a Sunday despite it finding itself firmly on the London tourist trail. it is more than just a flower market, it is a pulsating hive of activity during the weekends that splashes creativity, vintage wares, curiosities and delicious food onto the streets and draws crowds from near and far.
Columbia road itself is a row of Victorian shops that date back to the 1860s. Today many of the shops open only at the weekend and the flower market itself takes over the street on Sundays.
A bit of dark and twisted history:
Columbia Road was once a Brick Yard before it evolved into undesirable below ground-level housing area known as Novia Scotia Gardens. Here lived some members of a gang of notoriously unsavoury ressurection men, body-snatchers that sought out and murdered people to then sell on their remains. The gang were caught after a delivery of a suspiciously fresh body to This School of Anatomy in the Strand. Bizarrely, the public had a great appetite for such grisly goings on and the superintendent in charge of the arrests opened Novia Scotia dwelling to the public for 5 shillings a peep! If you are wondering what come of the gang….
“Bishop and Williams were executed outside Newgate in the presence of thirty thousand spectators, who set up a shout of exultation that was prolonged for several minutes. The bodies were removed the same night, Bishop to the King’s College, and Williams to the Theatre of Anatomy, in Windmill Street, Haymarket, to be dissected. They were publicly exhibited on Tuesday and Wednesday, at both places, when immense crowds of persons were admitted to see their remains.”