The place-name Blithehale or Blythenhale, the earliest form of Bethnal Green, is derived from the Anglo-Saxon ‘healh’ (angle, nook, or corner’) and blithe (‘happy, blithe’), or from a personal name Blith. Over time, the name became Bethan Hall Green, which, because of local pronunciation as Beth’n ‘all Green, had by the 19th century changed to Bethnal Green.
The ‘traditional street market’ in Bethnal Green flourished during the 18th Century. In 1833, the Bethnal Green Road Market was chiefly for fruit and vegetables, with the Costermonger replacing the weaver as the quintessential figure of Bethnal Green. By 1901, there were 136 stalls on Bethnal Green Road, open 7 days a week
Licenses were issued for 222 stalls in 1930-1, for Bethnal Green Road. By 1959 stalls were choking the streets and the council attempted to relocate Bethnal Green Road Market, with little success. By 1986 there had been many shop closures but district shopping centres remained in Bethnal Green Road and weekday markets, mostly for food, remained.
The street market is now recognised as a major local shopping area and an important social meeting place for the community. The market is sells a wide range of items from clothes to fruit and vegetables and is open 7 days a week.