Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Three Windows

Years ago I lived in Borough Market. When I moved there in 1998 it was pretty much an abandoned area of London frozen in time: a little Dickensian enclave. Filthy vegetables were sold wholesale 2am–6am, the corner pub opened 6am–9am to serve the market vendors, but for the other 17 hours each day it was more or less empty apart from shady characters up to no good amongst the deserted stalls and sooty arches.

I took the photo below exactly ten years ago today, 23 February 2000. See those three windows on the first row, the second set in from the left? Those looked out from the front of my flat, 11 Stoney Street:

Here are the same three windows a year or so later, in June 2001. I can't remember what was going on at the time with the flat upstairs but boarded-up windows were pretty common in the area.
And talking of shady characters, you can see the three windows again top-center about a minute into the first scene of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Here's Bacon on the run after the cozzers turn up:
(The B.J.D. SUPPLIES LTD sign was put up for the filming in 1998 and taken down afterwards)

The whole neighborhood has changed quite a bit now; I visited a couple of weeks ago as I passed through London. These days it's glistening sun-dried tomatoes rather than muddy sprouts, and instead of piles of trash on the corner it's carts offering slivers of imported jamón or nuggets of organic falafel. It's upscale and lavish and epicurean and gastronomic. How incredible that an institution 150 years old (or 700 at a stretch) can transform so dramatically and so suddenly.

The three windows are still there. The windowless ground floor, however, which used to house my downstairs neighbor (a reclusive artist) in the late 90s, is now a glass-fronted oyster place.

Wright Brothers

For the nostalgic, I've got on Flickr a set of shots of Borough Market in its pre-tapas days.


Unknown said...

No photo's of the Wheatsheaf or the Market Porter. Were they around then?

Isaac said...

They were both around then (the Market Porter was the one with the special early-opening license to serve the market folks when they got off work). Here's one of the Wheatsheaf: http://www.flickr.com/photos/hepwori/2320260270/