Cheap Street

London’s street markets and the cultures of informality, c.1850–1939

By Victoria Kelley

Cheap Street


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-9922-9
  • Pages: 224
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £80.00
  • Published Date: August 2019
  • BIC Category: History, History, HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain / Victorian Era (1837-1901), HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain / 20th Century, BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Economic History, London, Greater London, Humanities / British & Irish history, Economics, finance, business & management / Economic history, Humanities / Social & cultural history


Cheap street is a lively and scholarly account of London's street markets, which were an overlooked site of urban modernity and the most vigorous outgrowth of the informal economy that flourished below and beyond the recognised institutions of the consumer city. Kelley brings together design and material culture history, urban studies and social and cultural history to analyse the street markets' distinct characteristics. These included the flaring naked flames of their naphtha lights, their impermanent yet persistent unofficial occupation of space, and the noisy performative selling that took place there. The result is a new interpretation of London's urban geographies, moving beyond the accepted view of the West End as the consumer city and the East as the city of poverty, and demonstrating that the informality of the street markets was a powerful force in shaping representations of London and its people.


1. What is a street market?
2. Things
3. Streets
4. People
5. Street markets, informality and the performance of London
Select bibliography


Victoria Kelley is Director of Research and Education, and Professor of the History of Design and Material Culture, at the University for the Creative Arts

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