Hidden away in Bermondsey is a collection of food producers who principally sell wholesale. However, on a Saturday morning, if you know where to find the railway arches they are located in, they open the doors to the public, and you can get a taste of heaven.
Every couple of months if I wake up early on a Saturday morning I either walk for almost two hours or if I am feeling less energetic take the London Underground and then walk (a much shorter half an hour trip) to Spa Terminus Saturday market. This collection of producers is one of my favourite places to visit. I have visited three times since July. Once because I heard that Little Bread Pedlar make the best almond croissants, they do! Secondly, because I was taking a tour of the markets with a guide to learn more about the history of food production in this part of London. Thirdly, because on my second visit I had bought my parents some English Preserves, and they had asked for more as a festive winter gift!
If you did not know it was there, it would be easy to miss this Saturday market. Spa Terminus is located about a seven minute walk from Bermondsey tube station or an enjoyable 25 minute walk from London Bridge station. A map to help you pinpoint the location can be found here. In this post, I will be talking about the producers shown on the map numbered from 7 through 20.
The shops are spread out over several nearby sites so you will end up walking around a bit to find them all. Depending on the direction you approach you may well miss the entrance to some parts until you notice them when exiting from another section. This has happened to me a couple of times :0). When walking keep an eye out for the blackboards to alert you to the entrance, especially the one for England Preserves and the Monmouth Coffee Company which is located opposite the entrance and chalkboard in the picture below.
The first time I visited I was on a mission. I had been chatting with a friend Amy, about how one of my favourite treats is an almond croissant. Amy told me about Little Bread Pedlar, and the lure of a buttery croissant filled with almond paste was too much of a temptation to pass over.
Little Bread Pedlar is an artisan bakery that is open to the public from 8.30am to 2pm on a Saturday morning. They sell bread and pastries, and you need to get there early, or they will sell out! The queue on a Saturday morning is a testament to the popularity of this producer.
And the almond croissant was the best I have ever tasted! When I went a couple of weekends ago, I was looking forward to a second tasting. However, I arrived late morning, and they had already sold out of almond croissants! Handily, for a producer of bread and pastries, there is also a coffee shop in the same arch. Coleman Coffee Roasters can sort you out with great coffee to accompany your cake of choice.
If honey is more to your taste, then you can check out The London Honey Company who sell a range of territorial, worldwide and seasonal honey varieties to suit every honey lovers preference.
In the same row of arches is Crown and Queue Meats who sell cured pork meat. The Ham and Cheese Company and Neal’s Yard Dairy provide the cheese options, and The Kernel Brewery acts as a bottle shop with a range of Pale Ales, India Pale Ales and old school London Porters and Stouts.
Across the road from this terminus are two of my favourite producers. England Preserves sells a range of preserves some of which I had not seen since childhood, including crab apple and bramble. My favourite preserve is apricot, and I was not disappointed with my jar. The apricot jam tastes heavenly atop soft goats cheese nestled on an oatcake. Next door to England Preserves is Monmouth Coffee Company. Now, I am not a big coffee drinker and only take decaffeinated when I do drink it. And I love the decaf that Monmouth serve up.
There is one other arch that I have visited on my three visits that I want to mention, and it is another cheese shop. In Arch 1 is Kappacasein Dairy. The dairy makes cheese in London using traditional 600 litre copper vats that were brought over from France. Copper is used because it has the best conductivity, so heat is dissipated evenly. The dairy uses raw milk brought in from a farm Kent still warm from the cow and animal rennet.
The area around London Bridge and Bermondsey has a lot of history around food production. Borough Market is the most well known and largest of the markets in the area. However, if you want something on a smaller scale then there is Maltby Street Market and then there is Spa Terminus Market which is an opportunity to buy from wholesalers direct. It is an intimate experience to go there and one that I recommend.
Spa Terminus is located in Dockley London SE16. The nearest underground station is Bermondsey. It is open on a Saturday morning only and it is worth checking the opening hours with a particular producer if you are planning to make a trip.