Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

Shepherd’s Bush Market

August 28, 2010 · 7 Comments

market video_0001

We spent the morning at Shepherd’s Bush Market in the area of Shepherd’s Bush, near Hammersmith. To get there, we took the Tube to Shepherd’s Bush station, a modern and pretty elegant-looking building. Once we were at the station, we actually had trouble finding the market. There were no obvious signs near the station, and the first person whom we asked had no idea what we were talking about. We took a wrong turn and wandered through a very new shopping and restaurant development in the same style as the station, but could not find the actual market. Someone did direct us, however, and we found the entrance.

When we entered the market, we readily realized why this place was little known.  The Shepherd’s Bush Market is no more than a narrow strip of walking space, about the length of a city block and no wider than an average road, jammed with shops on either side.  As we ventured into the market, inspecting the market’s goods and snapping photographs, we drew strange looks from shoppers there, who were invariably first generation immigrants, mostly from the Middle East.  Popular items in the market were the necessities, food and clothing accounting for over half of the market’s goods.  This suggests that, unlike other popular London market destinations, Shepherd’s Bush caters predominantly to the area’s immigrant community and their day to day shopping needs, rather than to tourists and day shoppers out for a bit of fun.  Of the food shops in the market, halal butchers were the most prevalent.  In immediate area surrounding Shepherd’s Bush Market, the same type of commerce thrived, with more halal butchers and restaurants and a few money exchange centers scattered about. Despite a heavy immigrant influence within the market, residential areas surrounding the area were largely native and seemed more affluent.

One aspect of the neighborhood that really struck us was the proximity of the local, immigrant-centered market with an enormous, modern shopping center. The Westfield Shopping Center, which opened in October 2008, is supposedly the largest shopping center in Europe. Inside we saw hundreds of people shopping at stores that ranged from Prada and Gucci to Nike and Adidas to H & M and other [slightly] more inexpensive stores. The mall was so big that there were several interactive map kiosks that would map out routes to certain stores for people. To read more about the mall, see Westfield’s website, http://uk.westfield.com/london/centre-information/about. Most of the shoppers here seemed to be white, probably native British. Both the shoppers and the elegant, silver architecture were a stark contrast to the colorful and cosmopolitan nature of the much smaller market. It seemed very strange that such a huge concentration of high-end stores was right in the middle of an area of so many immigrants. It did not match the streets around the market at all, but we noticed that there seemed to be more commercial development taking place on the other side of the mall.

Categories: 2010 Benjamin · 2010 Holly · 2010 Luke · Markets

7 responses so far ↓

  •   battilaj // Aug 28th 2010 at 17:01

    Did you see who the sales people were at the mall or ask any of the residents what they thought of it? I’m wondering if it provides extra commerce for the community or drives up property values.

  •   osterhoj // Aug 28th 2010 at 17:20

    That’s such an interesting image: a market and a huge mall juxtaposed like that. I can totally imagine, though, that the mall would be full of upper class whites when the market was frequented by more of an immigrant population.

  •   guya // Aug 28th 2010 at 17:25

    I am struck by the juxtaposition of rich and poor and as well. This is really seeming like a recurring theme in London neighborhoods.

  •   jamie // Aug 28th 2010 at 18:29

    From your blog it almost seems that the Market was not welcoming, but then again it might just be how I am interpreting it. Did you notice if within Shepard’s Bush Market they predominately spoke in their respective native tongues?? If so do you believe it makes it almost necessary for a Westfield type of shopping center be constructed for other types of people??

  •   melissag // Aug 28th 2010 at 19:20

    It would be very interesting to hear the residents take on the addition of Westfield Mall. I can only imagine that with more higher end developments it will completely transform the ethnic make-up of this neighborhood- eventually driving the immigrants out and attracting more upper class whites.

  •   Elizabeth Barr // Aug 29th 2010 at 02:42

    The Westfield Centers are really popular in the US, California especially. I wonder if Brits in general, not just the community you guys witnessed, see it as a symptom of American influence . . .

  •   stepheniem // Aug 29th 2010 at 19:56

    In regards to your market being near Europe’s largest shopping center… Our market (Walthamstow) claimed to be Europe’s longest market, which is making me wonder if by labeling as “Europe’s largest/longest/etc.” if those who run the market are trying to say something or attract a particular audience. Did anyone else who visited other markets notice a similar trend in claiming world status?

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