The market place and the market's place in London, c. 1660-1840
This study explores the contemporary collective significance of over seventy London markets in the 'long' eighteenth century. Markets are loosely defined as those institutions which were publicly recognized as places of regular trade in basic commodities: meat and livestock, fish and corn, fruit and vegetables, hay and straw, cloth, coal and animal skins. Their characteristics and development were shaped by a range of factors: principally 'market forces', but also political concerns and the growth and modernization of the metropolis. This thesis represents the first attempt to consider the markets of London during this period collectively and eclectically. One of its principal elements, therefore, is the classification of markets according to various criteria (e.g. size, ownership, location) over time (Chapter Two). One key trend is the apparent rise and fall of food market retailing, which is explained by various economic and cultural factors (Chapter Three). The economics of wholesaling demonstrate that formal market mechanisms generally adapted to changing times and performed the task of distribution with reasonable efficiency (Chapters Four and Five). Political influences on the geography and development of the markets - the role of market rights and regulations - highlight the distinctive and complex political economy of the metropolis (Chapter Six). A final dimension of inquiry concerns the relationship between markets and the city environment, and the extent to which metropolitan growth and 'improvement' impinged on the traditionally focal and symbolic status of markets (Chapter Seven). In general, markets' collective identity was fragmenting: some prospered whilst others declined; wholesale-retail distinctions established themselves; the boundaries between formal marketing and other forms of exchange became increasingly blurred. Nevertheless, the market place was not made obsolete by the process of metropolitan modernization. The abiding impression of the study is one of London's commercial, topographical and political complexity and diversity.