London

Smithfield Market: Thousands line-up for Christmas Eve meat auction

Market Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Customers began queuing early on Christmas Eve to grab bargain meat

Surplus stock from traders at Smithfield meat market has been auctioned off on Christmas Eve.

Customers queued from the early morning for the best position at the Harts of Smithfield meat auction in east London.

More than 1,500 people were expected to have visited the site for what has become one of London's Christmas traditions.

Sellers have been trading at the market since the 12th Century.

For more than 800 years a market has existed on the Smithfield site in some form. It closed in 1855, but was rebuilt and reopened on 24 November 1868.

The current set-up celebrated its 150th anniversary last year.

The present Smithfield Market in Charterhouse Street was established by the 1860 Metropolitan Meat and Poultry Market Act.

Market Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Market sellers have been trading from the Farringdon site since the 12th Century
Market Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Smithfield is the City of London's only major wholesale market
Marker Image copyright Reuters
Image caption A butcher holds up a piglet for sale during a Christmas Eve auction in Smithfield market in London
Market Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The meat auction is something of a Christmas Eve tradition
Market Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The market dates from when refrigeration was not an option, so all meat was sold off before the Christmas holiday to avoid it going to waste

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