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Trading in the Edwardian Era- Photographic Overview of the Markets and Shops in the 1900s

Ian Smith

The Edwardian era stands out as a time of peace and plenty. There were no severe depressions, and prosperity was widespread. Britain’s growth rate, manufacturing output and GDP (but not GDP per capita) fell behind its rivals, the United States and Germany but the nation still led the world in trade, finance and shipping, and had strong bases in manufacturing and mining.The industrial sector was slow to adjust to global changes, and there was a striking preference for leisure over entrepreneurship among the elite. However, major achievements should be underlined. London was the financial centre of the world—far more efficient and wide-ranging than New York, Paris or Berlin. Britain had built up a vast reserve of overseas credits in its formal Empire, as well as in its informal empire in Latin America and other nations. It had huge financial holdings in the United States, especially in railways. These assets proved vital in paying for supplies in the first years of the World War. The amenities, especially in urban life, were accumulating—prosperity was highly visible. The working classes were beginning to protest politically for a greater voice in government, but the level of industrial unrest on economic issues was not high until about 1908.

Below there is an interesting photographic overview of the markets, street vendors and shops during the Edwardian era. Take a look:

Billingsgate Market, ca.1910

Billingsgate Market, ca.1910

Book sale at Caledonian Roadd Market, ca.1910

Book sale at Caledonian Roadd Market, ca.1910

Boy selling fish from a basket in Boston street market, October 1909

Boy and man selling fish from a basket in Boston street market, October 1909

Caledonian Road Market, ca.1910

Caledonian Road Market, ca.1910

Clare Market, ca. 1900

Clare Market, ca. 1900

Covent Garden Market, ca.1910

Covent Garden Market, ca.1910

Covent Garden Market, London, early 1900s

Covent Garden Market, London, early 1900s

Floral hall at Covent Garden Market, 1910

Floral hall at Covent Garden Market, 1910

The extent of this trade was huge. Railways all over the world were built by the British, and equipped with machinery made in Britain. Germany also became a powerful nation, and the United States was already becoming an industrial giant. By Edward VII’s time. both of these countries were as industrially advanced as Britain.

Most British people in the “Edwardian era” were sure that British progress would continue. They were certain that the United Kingdom would continue to be very powerful.  The era came to an unexpected end with the First World War. Economically and in human terms, this was a disaster for most of the European nations.

There was a lot of inequality in society in the United Kingdom in the Edwardian era, as there always had been. Rich people and poor people had very different living standards at this time.Most adult men could vote, but women could not. Suffragettes were fighting for the right to vote.

Fruit venders, Indianapolis Market, 1908

Fruit venders, Indianapolis Market, 1908

Hester Street market in Lower Manhattan, NY, 1903

Hester Street market in Lower Manhattan, NY, 1903

Hoxton Street market, Shoreditch, 1910

Hoxton Street market, Shoreditch, 1910

Indianapolis Market, August 1908

Indianapolis Market, August 1908

Leadenhall Market, ca.1910

Leadenhall Market, ca.1910

Market place in Whitby with the Town Hall in the background, ca. 1900

Market place in Whitby on a busy day with the Town Hall in the background, ca. 1900

Mulberry Street, New York City, 1900

Mulberry Street, New York City, 1900

Shoppers in open air market, Market Square, Edmonton, Alberta, ca. 1910

Shoppers in open air market, Market Square, Edmonton, Alberta, ca. 1910

Two traders in a street market in Whitechapel, 1901

Two traders in a street market in Whitechapel, 1901

Vendors selling fish at a market in New York City, Ca. 1900s

Vendors selling fish at a market in New York City, Ca. 1900s