This film is part of Free

The Story of Our Food Supply

The original foodie city: from bustling Bermondsey Wharves through Smithfield and Billingsgate to London's street markets and general stores.

Public Information Filler 1928 20 mins Silent


Striking aerial views of the docks between Tower Bridge and London Bridge set the scene for this examination of the capital's imported foods. Flat-capped stevedores and Thamesside cranes unload items which public health inspectors sample and scrutinise for signs of decay. They check food vendors too: the wholesale markets at Billingsgate and Smithfield, grocers and trader's stalls on Southwark Park Road and a milkman delivering by handcart. Look out for the hygiene item rendered from some rotting inedibles!

Bermondsey Borough Council was a pioneer in public health education in the period before the NHS, and produced a number of public information films like this one in their efforts to inform and educate the local population. Films were shown in schools and clubs, as well as on the streets and in the borough's public spaces via a cinema van kitted out for mobile exhibition. Much of the film's contemporary interest lies in its presentation of the working city before containerisation of cargo closed the central docks and Billingsgate Fish Market relocated from the City of London to the Isle of Dogs.