Barter Street, WC1A

Place Name

When Bloomsbury Market, the original name for the street, opened here in 1730, it was designed to service the houses of Bloomsbury Square. John Strype described the Square in 1720 as “a large open Place railed in, with Rows of large Buildings on all sides”. The buildings themselves had been developed decades earlier in the 1660s by the former landowners, the earls of Southampton. It is highly likely the first bartering was done by the servants from the houses of Bloomsbury Square. The market though was never a great success – perhaps because Southampton’s heirs, the dukes of Bedford, already owned Covent Garden Market and did not want the competition. It was finally demolished with the building of New Oxford Street in 1847. Today, Barter Street runs south from Bloomsbury Way to Bloomsbury Court where it continues east to Southampton Place, and west to Bury Place. On John Rocque’s 1746 map of the area, the east and west trajectories were called Silver Street and Hide Street respectively. By the time the 1934 Ordnance Survey Map had been produced Bloomsbury Market had been renamed Barter Street, and Silver Street applied to the entire east to west course. By the early 1950s, it was all Barter Street.

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