Smithfield Market, London 1855.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Plate from the 'Illustrated London News'. Smithfield market, begun in 1798, was notoriously crowded and filthy, Dickens giving the following description: 'It was market-morning. The ground was covered, nearly ankle-deep, with filth and mire; a thick steam, perpetually rising from the reeking bodies of the cattle'. The market was eventually moved to the Agricultural Centre in Islington where the Cattle Show of 1862 was held. Experiments with breeding had lead to British beef becoming renowned for its quality and meat was in greater demand with an expanding and increasingly affluent population.