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"Spend Yer Money, Take Yer Chance"


Today's post is a rather unseasonal one, prompted by some photo album housekeeping. No wonder I hadn't found it during December as the photo that inspires the piece was tucked away in a sub folder. So just in case your thoughts this week have turned to what you could have for this years Christmas dinner, this might be helpful.


Harts of Smithfield, a wholesale Butchers in Smithfield Market was once the site of a Christmas tradition, which goes back about a hundred or so years. Every Christmas eve it was the venue for possibly one of the most boisterous auctions you've ever witnessed as large lumps of meat would be sold off at knockdown prices. The street would resound with the auctioneer's foghorn voice calling out the bids while several of his colleagues would shout encouragement like the phrase in the title and whip up the assemble crowd, numbering around two hundred on the last time I attended with their banter.


The crowd are encouraged to wave their cash above their heads in an attempt to attract the auctioneer's attention and anyone enquiring if they could use ApplePay would to the delight of the crown get a rather short and caustic reply. The only prerequisite is that you bring your own bag, as joints would be passed unwrapped to the winners in something resembling crowd surfing at a music venue.


Covid curtailed the auction until it started up again last Christmas, but as the photo shows, Smithfield is in a state of transition and the old Harts building will become part of the new Museum of London. Proceedings are now held in Central Avenue in the heart of the covered market, but how long they will continue is unknown as Smithfield's future is uncertain, with rumours of a move to a new meat market in Dagenham.

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