As early as the first century A.D., the Romans used an area on the north bank of the River Thames, just east of the London Bridge, as a place for loading and unloading water borne cargo. It is probable, therefore, that fish trading has been carried out in this area, later known as Billingsgate, for over 2,000 years. The exact origin of the name Billingsgate is lost in the mists of time. One legend states that Belin, ancient king of the Britain’s, built a fortified town at this once shallow crossing point in the marsh surrounding the River Thames. It is conceivable that the words Belins Gat have passed down through the centuries virtually unaltered to the present form, Billingsgate.
Billingsgate evolved over time into the most important center for fish distribution in the London area. For hundred of years, fishermen from every port along the coast of England have been sending their catch to Billingsgate in London. In turn, Billingsgate Market has prided itself on supplying its public with what they want, not only quantity and variety, but also superior quality.
In 1881, a baby boy was born in a small village in Sussex, England. Bert Malthouse's early years were like that of most youngsters, school, play, looking forward to making his place in the world. After leaving fourth form, Bert entered into Gentlemen’s service before being lured away by the call of the railroad. Starting on the London Country Railway as a ticket taker, he advanced to driver with a route which took him daily past the historic Billingsgate Market.
The particular attraction between Billingsgate and the young tram driver was never properly explained, however 1907 saw an ambitious new Canadian purchasing a pony and trap in an attempt to bring the London Billingsgate-type of distribution and service to the sparsely settled Prairies of Canada, and the future city of Calgary.
Though miles from any great ocean and lacking any amount of capital, Bert Malthouse started about the task the only way he knew, through hard work. What the tram driver from England pioneered with a horse and cart became Billingsgate Fish & Seafood Market of Calgary; A fully integrated operation throughout the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s. Offering wholesale and retail distributions of fish & seafood and also a manufacturing and processing plant.
Bert Malthouse's dream continued to flourish under the guidance of a second, third, fourth and now fifth generation. The Fallwell reign beginning when a young and spry Frank Fallwell married Margery Malthouse, paving the way for the third generation Frank Fallwell Jr, whom then raised fourth generation President and acting CEO Bryan Fallwell with wife Zlathy Fallwell, and now fifth generation son Frank Fallwell IV and daughter Melanie Fallwell. This making Billingsgate Seafood Market & Restaurant Calgary one of the oldest continually owned and operated family businesses not only in the City of Calgary but all of Canada, and North America.
January 1980 heralded a new and exciting chapter in the Billingsgate story as the tiny fish market moved from its original location at 222 - 8th Avenue S.E. to become a neighbour to Fort Calgary Park. Located now in East Village (630 7 Avenue S.E.), Billingsgate Seafood Market Calgary was one of a handful of modern Federally Inspected fish processing plants in Western Canada.
May 2006 saw another relocation for Billingsgate Seafood Market Calgary, opening a new retail store in Stadium Shopping Centre following a tragic accounting scandal. The resilience and work ethic of Bryan Fallwell saw Billingsgate MKT continue its retail supremacy all the while expanding yet again with the opening of Billingsgate Restaurant.
Unfortunately tragedy struck again when a fire tore through the Stadium Shopping Center, destroying multiple storefronts and restaurants, including Billingsgate MKT and Lighthouse Cafe. Through hard work and co-operation with another local business, Billingsgate MKT opened up a pop-up location inside Community Natural Foods while relocation plans are being finalized.
Having celebrated over 100 years in supplying Calgary with the utmost quality and excellence in 2007, we eagerly await 2017, marking Billingsgate’s 110th anniversary. Today, Billingsgate Seafood Market offers Calgary the goods and services dreamed of and implemented by its original founder, Bert Malthouse. Together with Billingsgate Market's dedicated staff and their commitment to creating a mecca for the Food & Seafood Enthusiast, we invite you to come and share in the wealth of food and seafood knowledge when visiting Billingsgate MKT and talking to our experts.