Billingsgate Fish Porter prototype character jug produced by David Sharp Pottery of Rye, England, circa 1990. Billingsgate Market began trading exclusively in fish in 1699. It comprised of two main groups: the merchants who sold the fish and the porters, who with their small, numbered enamel badges, traditionally worn on their aprons, had sole license to transport fish within the market. The portering system was based on the merchant paying the porter a fixed retainer and the fishmonger or customer paying for the delivered fish. A porter's work was one of hard manual graft, carrying heavy boxes of fresh fish and working unsociable hours. Yet these men were proud of their enduring role and tradition. The job of porter has often been passed down through family generations, resulting in a very tight-knit community, complete with its own humorous banter and camaraderie. The porters were the heart and soul of Billingsgate. In 2012, the City of London Corporation withdrew all trading licenses from the porters, revoking a bylaw dating back to 1876, ending this longstanding way of life. The fish porter's left arm forms the handle of the jug.
David Sharp Pottery
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