MORE plentiful than any other kind of fish in London, are brought from the western coast, and afford during their season (which commences in May, and lasts to the close of July,) a livelihood to numbers of men and women, who cry them through the streets every day in the week, not excepting Sunday; Mackerel boats being allowed by act of Parliament to dispose of their perishable cargo on Sunday morning, previous to the commencement of divine service. No other fish partake that privilege. Mackerel are at first sold at one shilling and sixpence each; but the quantity brought shortly reduces them to tenpence, eightpence, sixpence, and not unfrequently three may be bought for one shilling. A second season for Mackerel is in autumn. The preference is given to the spring Mackerel, and many more of them are brought to London: those of autumn are dried by the inhabitants of the coast of Mount's Bay, where they are chiefly caught for their winter stock of provision.
Billingsgate, situated in Lower Thames-street, eastward of London-bridge, is the great fish-market whence the metropolis and its neighbourhood are wholly supplied with fish. Billingsgate, as seen in the Plate, is built in the form of a quay, and the fishing-vessels come close to it to deliver their fish. Each day is market-day at Billingsgate. The market commences at three o'clock in the morning in summer, and four in winter. Salesmen receive the cargo from the boats, and announce, by a crier, of what kinds they consist. These salesmen have a great commission, and generally make fortunes. The market is attended thus early by fishmongers, who keep shops in various parts of London, and, serving the richer inhabitants, buy the prime fish; and by the hawkers, who cry fish in the streets, with all their stock in baskets on their heads. The market for wholesale buyers is over by six or seven o'clock. Many private families send their servants to Billingsgate to purchase fish, as persons keep retail stalls in the market throughout the day, and are supposed to sell cheaper than the fishmongers or the hawkers. Nearly opposite to Billingsgate, on the north side of Thames-street, is the Coal Exchange.