Archive for August, 2012

Dickens’s Victorian London, 1839-1901 (book #123)

4 August 2012

Alex Werner and Tony Williams, 2011.

Some of these are from John Thomson and Adolphe Smith’s 1877 book Street Life in London. Others are from the archive of the Society for Photographing Relics of Old London (see my review of Lost London). Other photographers include William Strudwick – see biography here and here. He died in the workhouse in 1910. There’s an 1896 letter in which he describes his mobile darkroom.

St John’s Gate, Clerkenwell, c 1875. I like the “LUNCHEON &”.

Shops in Fleet Street, 1885. I like the gusto of the painted text and the flourishes of the balcony.

Lower Fore Street, Lambeth, c 1865:

This street was right on the river and was evidently very poor. In John Snow’s account of the cholera outbreak in 1848 he writes

In the evening of the day on which the second case occurred in Horsleydown, a man was taken ill in Lower Fore Street, Lambeth, and died on the following morning.

Now, the people in Lower Fore Street, Lambeth, obtained their water by dipping a pail into the Thames, there being no other supply in the street.

Elizabeth Manners lived in Lower Fore Street in 1851 and was a book sewer.

The Claspers in the ad for boat builders must be Harry and John Hawks Clasper. Harry Clasper was evidently a professional rower and also developed outriggers, whatever they are. He doesn’t seem to have worked in London, but his son John Hawks Clasper had a yard in Putney, and one of the buildings is still in use as a boathouse (see last link). His company’s letterhead is here.

As for R Bain, here’s a picture of his loading yard.

Looks like there were at least three other boatyards in the same street in 1852.

There are a couple of other photographs of Lower Fore Street around the same time here, and another here. There’s information about cholera in Lambeth in the Newsletter of the Friends of Medway Archives and Local Studies Centre.

And, people, you need to give more detail. What did the postcard say?

Stangate Dry Dock, c 1865:

Shop selling old clothes, Lumber Court, St Giles, 1877:

Booth describes Lumber Court in his notebooks:

“small shops. General dealers. Everything from rusty nails to oil paintings for sale. “Are most of them receivers.” A few Irish, poor, rough, noisy most nights. The Old Bailey records list Lumber Court 6 times as a crime location or home of a defendant, including: a woman with the wonderful name of Prothessia Gray was found guilty of stealing two shillings (1777); John Watson (1790) was transported for breaking into a house (he seems to have stolen a grate and then tried to sell it back to someone who turned out to be the owner – “I directly said, my good man, this stove is mine” – but this is all a bit unclear as he was found not guilty of the actual theft); Mary West stole a leg of beef from a butcher’s in Lumber Court in 1812. They all sound unpleasant people. One defendant, Margaret Downing (1822) says of her accuser “she is an infamous woman; she starved me and the boy for four days, and when we were going to leave, she said she would floor us – she lives with Crawley, the fighter”.

There’s a description of this particular shop here:

As a rule, second-hand clothes shops are far from distinguished for their cleanliness, and are often the fruitful medium for the propagation of fever, smallpox, &c. In this case, however, the floor was well washed, the shop carefully dusted, the goods kept in order of merit, and the grate resplendent in all the glory of unstinted black lead. A door at the back admitted a thorough current of air, and the presiding genius of all this adroit organization seemed fully alive to the importance of good ventilation. Perhaps these rare qualities explain the fact that trade is slack with her. Cleanliness is essentially distasteful to, and is even considered “stuck up,” by a large section of the population.

Seems a bit disingenuous of Werner and Williams not to use this primary source but instead to quote Dickens on the “heaps of filth”. Like the shop below, this woman sold books and paintings as well as old clothes.

Seller of old furniture, Church Lane, Holborn, 1877:

Original essay here. I want to know what the books are.

King’s Head Inn Yard, Southwark, c 1881:

Street Doctors, 1877:

“Caney” the Clown, 1877:

“Caney had worked as a clown for many years when a varicose vein burst while he was performing and his stage career was over.” He started repairing cane chairs and umbrellas instead – the picture apparently shows a child’s high chair. I like the careful posing of this image(given the long exposure times) – the woman watering the window-box. The original article accompanying the picture is here.

Chubb, Round and Co’s Works, West Ferry Road, Millwall, 1885:

“vast mounds of coconut husks waiting to be made into rope and matting … A row of terraced houses overlooks the site showing how industrial premises in London were often hemmed in”.

Itinerant photographer on Clapham Common, 1877:

This is another Thomson photograph, but I can’t find a link to the essay.