The Today Programme has commissioned internationally renowned photo journalist Nick
Danziger to capture Britain at 6am. Each week we will bring you a new theme, from a Belfast mosque to a London meat market. Be sure to return regularly to watch this stunning exhibition unfold.
Smithfields meat market, London
Smithfields is a wholesale meat market in the centre of London. It is very much a ‘male environment’. Women are the exception, but they are present, mainly at the cash tills. The busiest time is between 4am and 6:30am (it has recently got even busier as customers try to avoid London’s congestion charge) although it remains open until midday. The carcasses are hauled from articulated lorries and then the ‘shopmen’ take care of cutting the meat, bagging it and carrying it to the stall displays. Some retail butchers still employ “bumarrees’, market porters, to carry the meat or poultry to their vehicle. It is said if you want meat from anywhere in the world be it Australian, African, European or North or South American you can buy it at Smithfields.
Nick was born in London but grew up in Monaco and Switzerland. He developed a taste for adventure and travel from a young age, and, inspired by the comic-strip Belgian reporter Tintin, took off on his first trip to Paris aged 13. Without passport or air ticket he managed to enter the country and travel around, selling sketches to make money.
Nick’s initial ambition was to be an artist, and he attended art school, got an MA and representation from a gallery. But his desire for travel remained - he applied and was awarded a Winston Churchill Memorial Fellowship in 1982 and used it to follow ancient trade routes - he travelled on foot or traditional local transport from Turkey to China and documented his adventures in diaries.
The diaries formed his first book, the best selling Danziger’s Travels , and he never looked back. He has since travelled around the world taking photographs and in 1991 made his first documentary in Afghanistan, War Lives and Videotape, based on children abandoned in the Marastoon mental asylum in Kabul. It was shown as part of the BBC’s video diaries series and won the Prix Italia for best television documentary series.
Nick has since travelled the world taking photographs and making documentaries about the people he has met. He has published four books, including his latest, The British, for which he returned to his roots.