The street market originated in Green Street at the boundary between East Ham and West Ham in the late Victorian era when the new suburb of East Ham began to be developed. Originally the stall holders were Jewish traders from Whitechapel and the East End, selling clothing and vegetables. The traders were pushed into Queens Road in 1904 to stop them obstructing the main road and to allow for the passage of trams. It was not until 1925 that the borough obtained statutory powers to regulate street markets.
The modern market is now largely covered but remains ethnically diverse, selling a mix of household objects and exotic vegetables. The market is open 7 days a week as it has started a Sunday Market though it is not currently popular.
In November 2006, in the face of a vigorous local campaign of opposition, Newham Council proposed a redevelopment of the existing market site which was to include a supermarket and luxury housing above a much smaller covered market. Following the local campaign, in May 2009 Mayor of London Boris Johnson directed Newham Council to refuse planning permission to redevelop the market.
A notable trader at the Queen's is Muhammad Shahid Nazir, more commonly known as the '£1 Fish Man'. He rose to fame as a fish trader at the Queen's Market through his composition of a market trader's song. It became a viral hit through shoppers at the Queen's Market recording him and uploading to YouTube. It has also given Nazir a record deal, with his single released on the 7 December 2012.