Blooming Mavellous at Columbia Road Flower Market

By Justine Tabak

Blooming Mavellous at Columbia Road Flower Market

There's nothing quite like the endless inspiration which can be gleamed from a simple flower. Delicate or bold, vibrant or subtle, flowers are nature's gift to spark the senses. And as a designer of dresses, it's no surprise that I love a floral print. 

This autumn, in celebration of all things floral, we visited nearby Columbia Road to shoot our latest images. The colours of the buildings (and the local pub!) were the perfect foil to our floral dresses, no surprise as the area is imbued in rich floral history ...

Columbia Road flower market in Hackney takes place every Sunday, with flower and plant sellers filling the street with their colourful blooms. It's one of my favourite places in London with traders vying for attention with loud cries and bargains galore for seasonal bouquets through to herbs and cool cacti. The only outdoor flower market of its kind in the UK, running since 1949, the market is steeped in history with many flower stalls passed through the generations, this market is East End London at its finest. What's more, this bustling street is lined with brilliant independent shops and eateries, providing the perfect weekend jaunt.

Simply throw on your favourite floral dress and take a trip down memory lane with us. Blooming marvellous!

Justine x

Our newest Liberty 'Ruby Sprig' print for our ever favourite Camden Passage dress.

London has a great tradition of flower selling, but a dedicated open-air market didn't exist till the 1940s. During Victorian times flower sellers would sell flowers from huge baskets at the roadside. 

Up until the 19th Century the flower trade was mainly local, with flowers grown from large private gardens and nurseries. From then on, new flower farms emerged, like this one in Wisbech in 1908 showing rows of hyacinths.

Our new Alicia Bell Bohemian and Mill Town dresses are made in a Liberty eco-viscose, a beautifully draping fabric made from the bi-products of the cotton industry. 

Columbia Road flower market was originally an indoor food market built in 1868 by Angela Burdett-Coutts, a millionaire heiress and philanthropist.

The East End of London was very poor; once an area inhabited by Huguenot silk weavers but following the decline of the silk trade, the area too declined and led to urban depravation in the 1800s. 

This huge Neo-gothic building provided 400 stalls and lodgings in the rooms above for local traders, however just a few short years later in 1871 the building was gifted to the City of London due to lack of use. With no direct transport connections in the area it had not been popular with traders, and so a new smaller street market sprung up in the road, later becoming Columbia Road. 

 Another new Liberty, classic 'Cosmos', for our London Fields shape.

 

The market as we know it today was born in 1949 with many of the early traders on Columbia Road growing their own flowers from their own nurseries.

Despite a decline in the 70s, with the support of the community and regeneration in the area, Columbia Road has become a lively London attraction, full of colour and character every Sunday.

The Gentle Author has written a wonderful piece interviewing George Gladwell, a trader who has been selling his blooms from the first day the market launched.

Best of the Bunch! We've scattered our favourite flowers across the Autumn range this season, from new Liberty florals to a dreamy 'deadstock' Dahlia print for our easy drawstring Bloomsbury dress.

Columbia Road flower market is open every Sunday from 8am-2pm, I hope to see you there!

 



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