Dr Barton’s Airship

Staying at home has provided the opportunity for more research into a number of London related subjects, and in this post I would like to introduce you to one of the early pioneers of flight, who built his machine at Alexandra Palace, and flew from Alexandra Palace to just outside of Romford, Essex. This is the story of Dr Barton’s Airship.

At the end of the 19th century and during the first years of the 20th century there was considerable competition to demonstrate powered flight. The concepts were clear, but the design and build of a machine were challenging with the technology and materials available at the time.

The Wright brothers in the US were working on a machine that led to the first powered, heavier than air and manned flight in 1903. The Wright brothers machine was very rudimentary, but was something that today we would recognise as an aeroplane. Other inventors were taking a different approach.

One was Francis Alexander Barton, a medical doctor from Beckenham in Kent. Born in 1861, Barton had always been interested in mechanical invention and was an early user of the motor car. He had also been experimenting with balloons and by the end of the 19th century was President of the Aeronautical Institute.

Dr Barton looking suitably late Victorian / Edwardian:

Dr Barton's Airship

He had been working on a design for a powered airship that used some of the principles that would be adopted into the design of aircraft – the use of aeroplanes, or small wing-shaped structures, that would allow the airship to be navigated without the use of ballast or the release of gas, constraints that limited the time an airship could spend in the air.

Barton saw his airship as a stepping stone to a future aircraft design where the balloon of an airship could be removed and the craft would be held aloft and navigated by the use of aeroplanes, or wings as we would call them today.

Dr Barton proposed an airship design to the War Office, who in 1901 gave him an order for a machine.  He hired Frederick Rawson as a consulting engineer for the project and in 1902 they started work on the machine in space that had been provided to him at Alexandra Palace in north London.

A model of the proposed airship used to support the proposal to the War Office is shown below:

Dr Barton's Airship

A hydrogen filled balloon provided the lift for the machine. Below this was a bamboo structure with a platform for those who would operate the airship. At the rear was a large rudder to steer the craft left and right, and along the platform are the “aeroplanes” which would help provide up and down navigational control to remove the need to release gas, or use ballast.

Diesel motors also supported on the platform were connected to propellers which would push the airship through the air.

The crew of the airship would also sit on the platform, surrounded by the bamboo structure and a hydrogen filled balloon just above.

Dr Barton had some competition and the Brazilian Santos-Dumont was also using a similar design. The following view of his machine shows how exposed crew were below the balloon:

Dr Barton's Airship

Dr Barton’s airship was gradually taking shape at Alexandra Palace. Building the machine was relatively standard engineering, however the real risk was with the generation of sufficient hydrogen gas to fill the airship balloon. Hydrogen is an exceedingly flammable gas and early 20th century, amateur airship builders were perhaps limited in their approach to safety when dealing with hydrogen.

A report in the Daily News on the 5th July 1904 covered an explosion at Alexandra Palace where Dr Barton was very lucky to survive:

“DR BARTON’S AIRSHIP – EXPLOSION OF GAS – INVENTOR BADLY INJURED. The work of constructing Dr. Barton’s airship at Alexandra Palace has been attended by numerous incidents, none of which, however, have occasioned personal injuries to those engaged in the undertaking. Yesterday, what might have been a much more serious affair, attended by the gravest results to the balloon and its inventor, occurred in the early hours of the morning.

The airship itself is rapidly approaching completion. The gas necessary for the inflation of the balloon is manufactured in a miniature works just outside the shed which contains the airship. Here iron shavings are thrown into a very strong solution of sulphuric acid, which is contained in specially constructed lead-lined generators.

About two o’clock yesterday morning, Dr. Barton fancied the generator was not working as quickly as it should; so, standing on the platform which is fixed about halfway up the generators, he removed the plate and threw in another pailful of iron shavings.

A tremendous explosion ensued, the force of which may be gathered from the fact that it woke the manager of the works, who was asleep in his house a mile and a quarter away, and blew the pail which Dr Barton had been using to the boundary of Alexandra Park.

The labourers engaged immediately ran to the assistance of Dr. Barton, who was found lying on the platform, the railing of which had prevented his being blown to the ground. He was at once carried into the airship shed, and medical aid was sent for.

In the meantime the injured man became unconscious. Two doctors arrived about three o’clock, and he was carried to his home some distance away on the ambulance stretcher attached to the Palace. There it was found that the patient had received serious burns about the face, and his hair and moustache were partially burnt away.

The worst injury, however was to the eyes, a number of fine particles of iron having been blown rather deeply into both. By the aid of a powerful magnet these were all removed, and Dr. Bremner, who with Dr. Maler performed the operation, believe that in the absence of complications Dr. Barton will be quite restored within a week.”

Despite this set back, Dr. Barton was made of strong stuff and was soon back at work.

Dr. Barton standing in the bamboo frame of his airship:

Dr Barton's Airship

Dr. Barton, and the Alexandra Park Trustees were also in trouble with the council in 1904 as the borough surveyor had found out that waste from the gas-producing plant was being dumped in the Council’s sewers. The surveyor was told to monitor the situation.

The first trial of the airship was in July 1905, when:

“A preliminary trial of Dr Barton’s airship took place at the Alexandra Palace, and it claimed that at a height of 40ft, she obeyed her helm well and readily forged ahead against the wind, which was blowing at an estimated rate of between 15 and 20 miles an hour. The airship was not allowed to make an unfettered trip. The balloon, which it will be remembered, was originally designed for the War Office, is 180ft long, 60ft high, and 40ft wide. The aeroplanes and motors, the propellers and rudders, all worked smoothly, and the balloon had a lifting capacity of several tons.”

By 1905, construction and flight of the airship had taken so long that the War Office had cancelled the contract, and Dr. Barton was now funding the airship from his own funds.

Soon after the trial, also in July 1905, the airship would make its first, and only flight. The Essex Newsman reported on the 29th July 1905:

“Immense interest was taken in the ascent of Dr. Barton’s airship at the Alexandra Palace on Saturday afternoon. The airship rose gracefully at 4.45, and it was universally agreed that the ascent was a magnificent one. Dr. Barton was in charge, and he was accompanied by Mr. E. Rawson, Mr. Spencer, and Mr. Gauderon. 

In the upper air the ship was cleverly maneuvered, but a wind was blowing, in the teeth of which it was found impossible to steer the ship. After some clever tacking, therefore, Dr. Barton gave up the idea of steering the airship back to the Palace grounds. After over an hour’s sail he descended at Havering. The airship was well seen from various parts of Essex, and the ease with which the tacking operations seemed to be done evoked great admiration.

After the descent, alas the ship was wrecked. At Heaton Grange, Havering, at the house of Sir Montagu Turner, a garden party was in progress, and the descent of an airship close by was not the least interesting item of the day’s proceedings. Two farm labourers ran after the trail rope and hung onto it. 

At that moment the keel touched the turf and she bounded about 50ft in the air, throwing the men head over heels. In the rebound, the ship cleared a hedge which divides the field from a few acres of potatoes on the other side, and the anchor catching in the obstruction, the ship pulled up and sank gracefully to the earth, which she touched without a tremor.

Then came an exciting time. As the ship lay there, on a perfectly even keel, Mr Gaudron and Mr Rawson, in a moment of forgetfulness, joined Dr. Barton in the bow, where the latter was receiving the congratulations of the garden party. This sudden shifting of the weight upset the equilibrium and the stern of the airship rapidly rose in the air. 

With presence of mind, Mr. Harry Spencer, who had remained in the stern, grasped the ‘ripping gear’ with which the ship was fitted and tore open the balloon from end to end. Once the rip started, the imprisoned gas did the rest, and with a noise comparable to that of a dozen rockets being fired at once, what remained of 200,000 feet of pure hydrogen was liberated and the vessel sank back to earth.”

The flight had been a success, flying a straight line distance of over 14 miles, and landing perfectly. The airship was destroyed through the excitement of those who had made the flight, rushing to meet those who had come to see them.

It must have been quite a sight – the following view is of Dr Barton’s airship before take off at Alexandra Palace.

Dr Barton's Airship

The route of the airship (Maps © OpenStreetMap contributors):

Dr Barton's Airship

The landing-place on today’s map, just north-west of the Gallows Corner roundabout on the A12:

Dr Barton's Airship

Dr. Barton had put a considerable part of his life and money into the project. The final paragraph of the Essex Newsman article provides a rather poignant summary of the day’s flight:

“In the potato patch as the aeronauts passed home there stood a solitary policeman, engaged in a nocturnal vigil over all that remained of the labours of twenty years and the expenditure of more than £4,000.”

Dr. Barton would not construct another airship. The future was flight without hydrogen balloons, and Dr. Barton did have an attempt at a float plane which he built at the Isle of Wight. This was also constructed of bamboo as it was a strong and importantly cheap material. There was no engine of sufficient light weight for the plane, so Dr Barton conducted some tow tests, but the float plane was wrecked on one of these tests.

He did briefly look at another airship design just before the first world war, however he was unable to get enough support for the project, and he returned to medicine.

Dr. Francis Alexander Barton died in April 1939 – a turn of the century amateur inventor and pioneer of flight, and probably one of the few people to have flown from Alexandra Palace to Havering, near Romford in Essex.

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New Crane Stairs and the Anchor and Hope Pub

In the week before the lock down was implemented, I walked from London Bridge to the isle of Dogs. One of my favourite walks as the views of the river are wonderful in the gaps between old warehouse buildings. I am gradually working through as many Thames Stairs as I can find, and for this week’s post, let me take you to New Crane Stairs and a lost pub.

New Crane Stairs can be found at the corner where Wapping High Street turns away from the river towards Garnet Street. the entrance is tucked away between the old New Crane Wharf building and a recent new apartment building, with the entrance to the River View Chinese restaurant at the entrance to the stairs.

New Crane Stairs

The view along the passageway leading to the stairs:

New Crane Stairs

At the end of the passageway, New Crane Stairs lead down to the river foreshore:

New Crane Stairs

Despite the name, New Crane Stairs are an old set of stairs down to the river. They appear in Morgan’s 1682 map of the whole of London. The word “New” at the start of the name is interesting as it implies there may have been an earlier set of stairs with the Crane name. There are other examples of this, for example Horselydown Old and New Stairs on the south bank of the river, east of Tower Bridge.

The London Borough of Tower Hamlets Wapping Wall Conservation Area document states that: “Great Jubilee Wharf and New Crane Wharf (following the post medieval river wall line) form a continuous ‘wall’ of buildings between the street and the Thames.” Intriguing to wonder if New Crane Stairs could possibly date back to a route over the medieval river wall to the river.

The following photo shows the view of New Crane Wharf from the river, with the stairs to the left:

New Crane Stairs

I cannot find a source for the name, whether there was an earlier set of stairs with the Crane name, or whether the name was in reference to the nearby installation of a “new crane” which perhaps in the 17th century or even earlier would have been worthy of note.

Rocque’s 1746 map clearly shows New Crane Stairs at the point where the road turns north, in the centre of the following map:

New Crane Stairs

The first written reference I can find to the stairs, in addition to the above maps is a rather touching newspaper report from the 4th August 1758:

“Thursday, the Wife of John Newcomb, a Waterman, belonging to New Crane Stairs, Wapping, was delivered of three fine boys, and all are like to do well.”

That this was newsworthy probably indicates how rare it was in the mid 18th century for three babies to be born, presumably without any complication – although typical for the time, the wife’s name is not given, or her health following the birth.

Five years later, in July 1763 there was one of the disastrous events that were relatively common in the wooden, close built houses and warehouses crammed with combustible materials:

“Sunday morning, about One o’Clock, a most dreadful Fire broke out at the New Crane Stairs, Wapping, which burnt with great Fury for 4 Hours before it could be stopped, and consumed all the Houses from New Crane Stairs to King James’s Stairs, and from the River-side back to the Garden Ground which includes both sides of the Street called Wapping Wall, and Part of Gravel Lane; it ended in consuming Mr Wilson’s large and fine Cooperage: The Number of Houses burnt are computed around 170, besides Shops, Warehouses and Docks, &c. and it is reckoned 1500 Persons, Housekeepers, Lodgers, &c. are burnt out. The loss is immensely great.

In the Dock by New Crane Stairs was the Mary Gally, captain Clarke, a fine Ship in the West-India Trade, almost ready to come out, which was entirely consumed to the keel, with all materials about the Dock. 

It is said the Fire broke out in a Small-Beer Brewery, which immediately communicated itself to the Ship Alehouse; and the Wind blowing strong from the South carried the Flames to the Dock-Yard and other Houses adjoining; and the street being narrow, greatly impeded the working of the Engines. Two men are said to be buried in the Ruins and a Fireman had his skull fractured by the falling of a Wall.”

The damage caused by the fire can be judged by Sun Fire Office alone paying out £40,000 to those who had suffered losses in the fire.

It was a sunny and peaceful day when I walked down New Crane Stairs. The following photo is looking back up the stairs, the green algae demonstrating the height of high water on the stairs and surrounding buildings.

New Crane Stairs

Part of the foreshore at the base of the stairs is covered in large concrete blocks, possibly the remains bombed buildings, river wall of structures that once ran into the river.

The foreshore at the base of many of the Thames stairs are remarkable places. I very rarely see anyone else, they are very peaceful, but have the full view of the river and adjoining buildings.

New Crane Stairs

To the east (the above photo), the foreshore is almost beach like with a fine silt covering much of the surface. To the west as shown in the photo below there are more of the large concrete blocks:

New Crane Stairs

The foreshore is covered with the tide worn remains of bricks and the chalk blocks that were used to provide flat and firm bases on the foreshore for barges and lighters.

New Crane Stairs

When the tide is low it is possible walk some distance along the foreshore, but not today – and always with care to watch the tide and access to and from the river.

New Crane Stairs

A rather tragic event at New Crane Stairs in 1911 demonstrated the lack of care for people really struggling and probably with mental health problems. The following article was titled “A Lucky Escape”:

“James Rick, 48, a meat porter of Angle-street, Walworth, was charged with attempting to commit suicide by jumping into the River Thames at New Crane Stairs, Wapping.

Police-Sargent Anderson, stated that early on Saturday morning he saw the accused struggling in the water. He rowed to his assistance, and succeeded in getting him into the boat. When questioned at the station, the accused replied ‘I have lost my wife, and everything has gone wrong. Everything seems to have gone wrong with me’.

Prisoner was remanded for a week.”

That someone who had attempted suicide, and had been driven to that fate by who knows what tragedy had been treated as a criminal seems incredible, but was a standard approach at the time.

A different example, but which also shows how people were treated comes from 1832 when Hugh Elliot of the coal ship Flora from Sunderland was charged with assaulting John Morrison, a boy belonging to another collier.

The boy had been assaulted at midnight at New Crane Stairs where he was waiting for his master, when the prisoner and several other ‘north country seamen’ came down and asked the boy to row them to their ships. He refused as he was waiting for his Captain, and Hugh Elliot assaulted him with several blows about the face and body.

This was bad enough, but the boy had been waiting since 10 pm and was “almost perished with cold”. It was apparently common practice for the masters of colliers to get their apprentices to row them to shore, then wait in the cold whilst they got drunk in the pubs. The report adds that a few winters ago, two lads were found by their officers frozen to death while waiting for their captains.

New Crane Wharf, to the east of the stairs is one of the pre-war warehouses, however the building to the west of the stairs is a new apartment building replacing a smaller building seen on the left of the following photo of New Crane Stairs in 1971:

New Crane Stairs

Image credit: London Metropolitan Archives, City of London: catalogue ref: SC_PHL_02_0639_71_35_518_11

We can get an idea of the industry in the immediate vicinity of New Crane Stairs by looking at maps of the area. The following extract from the 1894 Ordinance Survey Map shows New Crane Stairs in the centre of the map, with a causeway extending out into the river.

New Crane Stairs

Credit: ‘Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland’ 

There is a jetty extending into the river, and to the upper left of New Crane Stairs are a “Commercial Gas Company’s Works”. More detail can be seen in the 1948 Ordnance Survey Map below, where New Crane Stairs is shown with a “Hard” extending into the river, the pier is still there with a conveyor which I suspect was used for taking coal to the Gas Works, which by 1948 are now shown as disused.

New Crane Stairs

Credit: ‘Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland’ 

There is a 1929 Britain from Above photo which shows the area covered by the above two maps. Ignore the large white ship, rather look to the right and there is a smaller ship with two square holds which I suspect carried coal which would then be transported via conveyor to the Gas Works, the area to the right of the gas holders.

New Crane Stairs

New Crane Stairs are to the upper right of the smaller ship, between the large warehouse (New Crane Wharf) and the smaller building.

Coal for the Gas Works was at continual risk of theft. An article in the East London Observer on the 29th May 1920 reported on two boys, John Vincent and John Bullman, both of Whitehorn-place, Wapping who were charged with the theft of 84lbs of coal, the property of the Commercial Gas Company. They had been seen by Constable 393 H who was on duty at New Crane Stairs coming from the barge Spaniard with a large sack.

They were up before the magistrate at Old Street Police Court and were given some “good advice” and bound over to be of good behaviour for twelve months.

I suspect the large amount of broken concrete blocks on the foreshore to the west of New Crane Stairs could be the remains of the jetty, or other infrastructure which was part of transporting coal from moored ships to the gas works.

The two maps also show a causeway or hard extending from the stairs into the river. There was no sign of that on the day of my visit, however on a visit a couple of years ago when the tide was lower, remains of this feature were visible existing out from the silt of the foreshore into the river, as shown in the following photo:

New Crane Stairs

The following drawing from the LMA Collage archive, dated c1870, shows the New Crane Stairs on the far right, along with the smaller warehouse building shown in the maps, Britain from Above photo and the 1971 photo.

New Crane Stairs

Image credit: London Metropolitan Archives, City of London: catalogue ref: p540958x

In the centre of the drawing is a pub. This is the Anchor and Hope public house, the building labeled P.H. just to the west of the stairs in the 1894 Ordnance Survey map.

I cannot find any photos of the pub, or much written about the pub, although there are plenty of newspaper references to the pub, either as a reference point for some event, or to activities using the pub. These references are always useful in understanding more about life in London as they record the day to day events that were important at time.

The unhealthy state of the River Thames is clear from an article in The Sportsman on the 14th January 1889 when the capture of a fish justifies an article:

” Perhaps the most startling incident in the world of sport during the last few days is the catch of a large carp in the Thames at Wapping. On Tuesday afternoon, opposite Mr Bat Murphy’s well-known hostelry, the Anchor and Hope, Wapping, a lighterman caught a very fine specimen of an English carp in the river, weighing more than 7lb. Mr Murphy has given instructions that this ‘below-bridge novelty’ should be stuffed and placed in a glass case.”

So perhaps the carp in its glass case was on display in the Anchor and Hope. The article goes on to mention a previous capture of a carp in the Thames, which was cooked for a special dinner to commemorate the capture of such a fish in the river, however after one bite, the taste was so bad that the diners had to reach for the brandy – a possible indicator of how bad the pollution of the river was in the 19th century.

Pigeon racing was a popular sport in East London and in August 1883, Mr Murphy, representing the Anchor and Hope came 3rd and won £3 in a race that started from the Derby Arms, Charlton.

In August 1880, the City of London, Tower Hamlets, Middlesex, Shadwell, Wapping and Ratcliffe Annual Regatta took place and all watermen and lightermen’s apprentices of the River Thames from Teddington to Gravesend were invited to enter their names at the Anchor and Hope, New Crane, Wapping for their annual coat and silver badge, and freedoms of the Watermen’s and Lightermen’s Company.

Pubs were used as a meeting point, both for activities at the pub and also as a reference point for unrelated activities. An event in 1806 is a reminder of how General Elections were very restricted and the appointment of MPs controlled by the MPs, who often held seats for very long periods of time.

In the November 1806 General Election, George Byng was returned to Parliament for Middlesex. He had already been an MP since 1790 and would remain an MP for Middlesex until his death in 1847.

Voting was limited to Freeholders, and one way to get Freeholders to vote was to arrange their transport, and George Byng was advertising in newspapers that on election day:

“the Friends of Mr Byng are respectively informed that Carriages are provided for the conveyance of Freeholders in that Gentleman’s interest, and stationed at the following places, viz. Near the Anchor and Hope, New Crane, Wapping.”

As well as the Anchor and Hope, the advert then lists an additional 8 locations across East London and the City where coaches would be provided to transport his supporters to the election at Brentford.

I can identify exactly how and when the Anchor and Hope pub closed. The following is from an article titled “Exciting Scenes At Wapping” in the Daily News on the 5th July 1904:

“The East-end was the scene of an exciting fire in the early hours of yesterday morning, at which two persons were injured and three had very narrow escapes.

Shortly before two o’clock a fierce fire burst out in the spirit stores on the first floor of the Anchor and Hope public-house, Wapping High-street. In a short time the entire floor was blazing.

When the Shadwell firemen arrived they were informed that there were people in the burning building. Dashing up the staircase, and beating back the flames with a hydrant as they went, the crew of the escape brought down a man and a woman – the latter, Mrs Margaret Allen, 68, being in a condition of semi-unconsciousness. Meanwhile a third person had leaped out of the second floor window to the foreshore of the Thames. Her name is Ann Donovan, 43, and when she was picked up and removed to hospital it was found that she had broken her leg in two places, and was otherwise injured.

The fire was not extinguished until the public-house and it contents had been practically destroyed.”

It may be that fires were at the start and end of the Anchor and Hope, probably built after the destruction of the 1763 fire, and destroyed in the 1904 fire. After the 1904 fire, the area once occupied by the pub seems to have been included in the space occupied between river and gas works, probably used for the movement of coal from river to gas works.

I continue to be fascinated by Thames Stairs. They are some of the oldest features to be found along the river and almost certainly date back many hundreds of years.

Most times when I walk down stairs and on to the foreshore, even on a glorious sunny day, they are quiet. It is not often I find someone else on the foreshore.

A perfect place to watch the river and consider the considerable human history centred around these places that form the boundary between land and river.

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Hidden London – Moorgate

Moorgate Station has a complex mix of different transport lines. The Northern, Circle, Metropolitan and Hammersmith & City underground lines and Great Northern National Rail line.

The station both above and below ground has also had a complex history, as lines were built and extended, use of lines changed, intended extensions came to nothing, and the surface station disappeared under a wave of post-war building.

Change is continuing as Moorgate Station will be at the western end of the Liverpool Street Station on the Elizabeth Line.

The London Transport Museum included Moorgate as a new tour in their Hidden London series of station tours and back in February on a chilly Saturday afternoon, I arrived at Moorgate looking forward to walking through the hidden tunnels of another London underground station.

The following photo shows one of the entrances to Moorgate Station (the brick building to the right) along with the construction area for Crossrail / Elizabeth Line to the left.

Moorgate

Moorgate started life as a surface station when the Metropolitan Line was extended east in 1865. The station’s appearance was much like any other surface station with open tracks and platforms, and the following Ordnance Survey extract from 1894 shows the station in the centre of the map with lines leading off to the north-west.

Moorgate

Credit: ‘Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland’ 

The area was heavily bombed during the last war and Moorgate Station did not escape. The following photo from 1949 shows Moorgate Station at the bottom centre of the map with the rail tracks running north through the space now occupied by the Barbican development.

Moorgate

1940 view of a badly damaged station and burnt out train at Moorgate.

Moorgate

Image credit: London Metropolitan Archives, City of London: catalogue ref: M0019308CL

The above view is looking to the east, the burnt out buildings face onto Moorgate, and behind them you can see the domed top of 84 Moorgate, or Electra House, that I used as a landmark to locate the position of one of my father’s photos in my post on London Wall a couple of weeks ago.

Post-war rebuilding of the area around London Wall, the Barbican and Golden Lane Estates led to the re-route of part of the above ground rail tracks into Moorgate, and the station disappearing below a series of office blocks.

Part of the old above ground Moorgate platforms as they appear today.

Moorgate

The deep level underground arrived at Moorgate Station in 1900 in the form of the City & South London Railway extension from Borough to Moorgate. This route would be later extended onto Old Street, Angel, King’s Cross and become the eastern leg of the Northern Line, meeting the western leg at Kennington in the south and Camden Town in the north.

When the original City & South London station was built, lifts were used rather than escalators, so underneath Moorgate today are old lift shafts and access tunnels to these lift shafts, and it was some of these that formed part of the tour.

Moorgate

One thing that fascinates me in these tours of disused stations and tunnels is how they can be read very much like an archaeological excavation, although rather than horizontal layers of history, in these tunnels layers are multi-dimensional as new walls are added, utilities installed, old signs and adverts part covered, graffiti added etc.

Moorgate

No Smoking and Way Out To The Lifts (although the final word is now lost):

Moorgate

When the City & South London Railway arrived at Moorgate in 1900, the moving staircase, or escalator was still 11 years away (first introduced at Earl’s Court station in 1911) so deep level stations were dependent on lifts to transport passengers between ticket halls and platforms.

Escalators have now replaced lifts across the majority of London Underground stations, so on the early deeper level routes there are redundant lift shafts to be found, including at Moorgate, where the following photo (with a bit of camera shake due to a slightly long exposure) shows the view up to the top of one of the redundant shafts.

Moorgate

Many of these disused tunnels are now used for storage.

Moorgate

Although you could argue that once you have seen one disused underground tunnel, you have seen the lot, it is the commentary by the Hidden London guides that make these tours so interesting, with their in-depth knowledge of the development of the station, and London’s transport network. However, there is one unique feature at Moorgate which is not found at any of the other station tours.

The Great Northern & City Railway was a line originally from Finsbury Park to Moorgate, built with the intention of allowing trains of the Great Northern Railway to run on from Finsbury Park into the City. The tunnels for these trains were larger, at 16 feet diameter to allow Great Northern trains to run into the City.

Whilst the line from Moorgate to Finsbury Park was under construction in 1901, a bill was put before Parliament to allow the extension of the line further into the City with a terminus at Lothbury rather than Moorgate.

The plan being for a sub-surface station on the corner of Lothbury, Gresham Street, Moorgate and Princes Street, just north of the Bank station.

The line from Finsbury Park to Moorgate opened in 1904, but despite having Parliamentary approval, the extension to Lothbury was stopped soon after commencement of work, and despite a couple of attempts to continue, lack of funding resulted in the project stalling, and the Greathead Tunneling Shield used for the extension being left in place at the end of a short stub of tunnel, a long way short of Lothbury.

The Greathead Tunneling Shield is the unique feature of Moorgate:

Moorgate

The Greathead Tunneling Shield was the invention of James Henry Greathead, who developed Brunel’s shield design, from rectangular, with individual moveable frames, to a single, circular shield. Screw jacks around the perimeter of the shield allowed the shield to be moved forward as the tunnel was excavated in front of the shield, with cast iron tunnel segments installed around the excavated tunnel immediately behind the shield.

Greathead’s first use of his shield was on the Tower Subway.

He died in 1896, before the Lothbury extension at Moorgate, however his shield design was so successful that it became the standard design for shields used to excavate much of the deep level underground system.

The Illustrated London News in 1896 recorded the following about Greathead:

“Hamlet thought that a man must build churches if he would have his memory outlive his lifetime, but Mr James Henry Greathead, the well-known engineer, who died on Oct. 21, has left a name which seems likely to survive him for some time by the less picturesque work of making subterranean tunnels.

He developed to its highest pitch the system of tunneling which had been introduced by Brunel, who constructed the tunnel under the Thames at Wapping by means of a shield. Mr Greathead improved this shield and drove it forward by hydraulic rams, while he made such subaqueous work easier by the use of compressed air. The greatest feat in subaqueous boring that has ever been undertaken is the new tunnel under the Thames at Blackwall. It is a curious fact that the great engineer just lived to see the Blackwall tunnel brought to a successful completion and then died.

One of his best known projects was the City and South London Railway, which has been successfully at work for five years; and the new Central London Railway and the similar enterprise on the Surrey side now in progress owe much to the ingenuity of his innovations.”

James Henry Greathead:

Moorgate

The Illustrated London News wrote in that 1896 article that his name seemed likely to survive for some time, but I wonder if they would have expected this to be into the 21st century, and a shield of Greathead’s design still being visible in the tunnels under Moorgate.

Moorgate

The tour takes in many of the tunnels of the original station when the lifts were in operation, these tunnels, other side tunnels, changes in level, all contribute to the sense of a maze of tunnels under the streets of Moorgate.

Moorgate

Old advertising on tunnel walls:

Moorgate

Dark tunnel walls and ventilation pipes:

Moorgate

The tour concludes with a view of the next stage of Moorgate’s development, with the entrance from Moorgate Station to what will be the Liverpool Street Station on the Elizabeth Line.

Moorgate

Moorgate has been in continuous development since the very first station in 1865. Connectivity has grown over the years, the surface station disappeared below the post-war development of the area.

The station was the location of the worst peacetime accident on the London Underground, when on the 28th February 1975, 43 people were killed when a train failed to stop and hit the wall at the end of the tunnel at a speed of 35 miles per hour.

In 2009 as part of the Thameslink project some of the widened lines and platforms into Moorgate were closed and are planned to become sidings for the Metropolitan, Hammersmith & City and Circle Lines by the end of the year.

The Elizabeth Line will connect Moorgate with Liverpool Street Station via a 238 metre long shared platform, running 34 metres below the surface.

Hidden London Tours are currently on hold, but when resumed, the tour of Moorgate provides a wonderful opportunity to learn about this complex station, and the chance to see one of the engineering innovations that helped build London’s underground transport network.

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A Very Different London

Last Monday afternoon, I had to take a relative to Guy’s and St Thomas Hospital at London Bridge (fortunately nothing to do with the Coronavirus). The hospital had advised not to take public transport, so the only other option was to drive.

Although this was before the formal lock down and the direction to stay at home, I had already stopped walking around London and was missing the experience of walking the city, particularly as the weather was so good.

To take advantage of a drive up to London Bridge, I mounted a GoPro camera on the dash of the car and left it filming the journey there and back.

It was a London I had not seen before on a Monday afternoon, more like an early Sunday morning. Very few people on the streets and not much traffic. I cannot remember driving in central London on a weekday without any queues. The only time I needed to stop was at traffic lights.

A frightening reminder of the impact of the virus.

The weather was sunny and bright and perhaps due to the lack of traffic on the roads and therefore reduced pollution, the air seemed clearer and the views of distant objects more sharp than usual.

The following are a sample of views from my journey. The GoPro was set in Wide mode, hence the format of the photos, clicking on any photo will show the view full screen.

Starting on the Cromwell Road, passing the Natural History Museum. Normally the pavement would be full, with queues up to the main door of the museum. On a Monday afternoon, the pavements were clear and the museum closed.

A very different London

Further along the Victoria and Albert Museum, again closed and facing onto empty streets.

A very different London

Driving along a quiet Brompton Road alongside Harrods. Hardly anyone to be seen, and a single optimistic taxi waiting outside the closed store.

A very different London

Knightsbridge and one of the entrances to Knightsbridge underground station on the left. The Mandarin Oriental hotel is on the left after the station entrance. Normally the street outside the hotel is full of chauffeur driven cars, but now the street was empty.

A very different London

Up to Hyde Park Corner with the Wellington Arch in the centre and Apsley House on the left after the entrance to Hyde Park. Normally continuous traffic on this busy junction and lots of people crossing the road, but today very quiet.

A very different London

Along Broad Sanctuary with the entrance to Westminster Abbey on the right and the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre on the left. Normally a tourist hotspot for the abbey.

A very different London

Parliament Square at the junction with Parliament Street.

A very different London

Crossing Westminster Bridge with only a couple of walkers across the length of the bridge.

A very different London

End of the bridge with the Park Plaza hotel.

A very different London

York Road with the new entrance to Waterloo Underground Station on the left. Waterloo Station is behind the office block on the right. Normally busy streets with lots of people crossing the road from station to the South Bank and Hungerford Bridge.

A very different London

Stamford Street empty of people and traffic. The South Bank Tower (formerly Kings Reach Tower) is the tower on the left and the One Blackfriars tower on the right.

A very different London

At the junction of Marshalsea Road and Borough High Street, with the stunning church of St George the Martyr opposite.

A very different London

The journey to London Bridge took me along the south side of the river from Westminster Bridge. On the return journey, I crossed Tower Bridge and headed north of the river.

Crossing Tower Bridge and there was very little traffic and even fewer people.

A very different London

Along Tower Hill and there was no one to be seen. As we passed, i had a look down the space where the Tower ticket offices and entrance are located and the place was empty.

A very different London

A very quiet Embankment.

A very different London

At the junction of Northumberland Avenue and Trafalgar Square.

A very different London

Piccadilly Circus. Just a couple of people sitting on the steps of the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain.

A very different London

Piccadilly, approaching the Ritz, again, empty.

A very different London

This was a very different London, a London that I never thought I would see, and never wanted to see, but it was good to see that so many people had heeded advice and were staying away from the streets. The only places where we saw work ongoing was at a number of the building sites across the city.

The NHS staff at Guy’s and St Thomas were as usual so considerate and caring, and doing a superb job under pressure.

I will certainly never take the freedom to walk the streets for granted again.

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The House They Left Behind

The following photo is from 1986, and shows the side of a building where the adjacent buildings have obviously been demolished. The building has “The House They Left Behind” painted in bold black letters on a white background, with below the original build date and a restoration date of the year before the photo was taken.

House They Left Behind

The same view today:

House They Left Behind

The House They Left Behind is still there, although the side of the building has been painted over. New homes have been built on the vacant space to the left.

Going back to the original photo, the sign on the street lamp on the left should give a clue as to the function of the building, the house they left behind was a pub, originally the Black Horse, but renamed as The House They Left Behind after all the adjacent buildings were demolished, mainly due to bomb damage from the war.

The building is in Ropemaker’s Fields, a short stub of a road that turns off Narrow Street in Limehouse, East London.

Unfortunately, my father did not take a photo of the front of the pub, only the signs at the side, however this is the front of the building on a sunny March morning.

House They Left Behind

I am not sure exactly when the pub closed, but it was auctioned off as a closed pub, and with planning permission for conversion to a home in 2009. The house was up for sale last year for £3.25 million.

In the 1986 photo, the sign on the side of the pub dates the build to 1857, however licensing records date a pub at the address to 1807, so the current building is a mid 19th century rebuild of the Black Horse.

It was adjacent to the Barley Mow Brewery, which was also located on a much longer Ropemaker’s Fields, which ran all the way to Three Colt Street. The 1894 edition of the Ordnance Survey map shows the location of the pub (red oval), Ropemaker’s Fields and the Barley Mow Brewery, which occupied a large area to the east. I have also marked another well-known Limehouse pub with a blue oval – the is the Grapes.

House They Left Behind

Credit: ‘Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland’ 

Today, Ropemaker’s Fields ends immediately to the east of the pub, and the green space with the same name, along with the housing estate alongside Barleycorn Way now occupy the area of the brewery, and the rest of Ropemaker’s Fields.

The name Ropemaker’s Fields give an indication of what the space here in Limehouse was used for. The following map is an extract from John Rocque’s 1746 map of London. The location of “The House They Left behind” is highlighted by the red oval. The street was named Ropemakers Fields in 1746, so this is an old street name.

House They Left Behind

If you look to the left and slightly higher from the red oval, there is a space called The Rope Walk.

A rope walk was a long space where lengths of rope would be made by twisting together the individual strands of material. The Rope Walk and Ropemaker’s Field indicate that this activity was carried out here in Limehouse, with a ready market for rope nearby from the ships docking along the river.

The 1746 map also shows that Narrow Street ended at the junction with Ropemaker’s Fields. The Fore Street was the road that continued on, however today Narrow Street now continues all the way to Three Colt Street and The Fore Street name has disappeared.

The following photo is a slightly wider view and shows where Ropemaker’s Fields would have once continued.

House They Left Behind

The 1746 map also shows an open space at the junction of Narrow Street and Ropemaker’s Fields. That open space remains today and at the corner, facing west is a large sculpture of a Herring Gull.

House They Left Behind

This was commissioned by the London Dockland Development Corporation in 1994 and created by the artist Jane Ackroyd.

The old pub is the only building that remains from the old Ropemaker’s Fields street. There is a single photo in the London Metropolitan Archives, Collage collection showing Ropemaker’s Fields. The following photo shows numbers 89 to 91.

House They Left Behind

Image credit: London Metropolitan Archives, City of London: catalogue ref: SC_PHL_01_397_1505

It is possible to precisely locate the above photo. The street name on the wall on the far left of the photo states Nightingale Lane. This lane ran north from the junction of Narrow Street and Ropemaker’s Fields, and if we look back at the 1894 Ordnance Survey map, we can see the bow-window of the first building, and the building that juts out a bit further into the street. I have circled these buildings in the map extract below. The pub would have been a short distance further along the street in the above photo.

House They Left Behind

Credit: ‘Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland’ 

Side view of The House They Left Behind, showing that whilst the building looks small from the street, it extends a long way back.

House They Left Behind

There are numerous mentions of the original pub name, the Black Horse, in newspapers. Mostly all the usual adverts for staff, use of the pub as an address for sales and auctions or meetings and inquests. In 1842 there was an inquest held in the pub on the sudden death of the landlady, from the Morning Post on Wednesday 11th May 1842:

“SUDDEN DEATHS – Three inquests were held last evening, by Mr Baker, on the bodies of persons who had died suddenly. The first took place at the Black Horse, Ropemaker’s-fields, Limehouse, on the body of Mrs Elizabeth Barton, aged 63, the landlady of the above house. Sophia Forest said that the deceased went out for a walk on Monday evening last, and returned home in good health and spirits at about half-past six o’clock. At about seven o’clock witness found her sitting in a chair in her parlour and quite insensible. She died at nine o’clock. Verdict, Natural death.”

Reading through old newspapers, competitive rowing on the Thames seems to have been a thing in the 19th century, with pubs often used in some form for the organisation of a race. Again, the Black Horse is mentioned a number of times in this context, and on the 2nd May 1858, Bell’s Life in London and Sporting Chronicle reported on once such challenge:

“CANNON AND WADE – In answer to Cannon’s challenge, Wade will give him two boat lengths start, and row him for £30 or £50 a side. Money ready on Thursday next at Mr Harass’s Black Horse, Ropemaker’s-fields, Limehouse. Since the above was in type Cannon called at our office, and expressed his willingness to proceed with the match; he deposited £2 10s in our hands, and will be at Mr Jones’s Ship, Church-street, Rotherhithe on Thursday next, prepared to sign articles and make it into £5 a side.”

With these competitions, there seems to often have been taunting of one party by the other, often seen as in the above competition by one person offering the other a head start, and a large amount of money. Presumably implying a low opinion of the other’s abilities.

A licence application in 1908 to the Clerk of the Licensing Justices of the Tower Division shows how the name of the pub and the pub sign was a real identifier of the pub, perhaps from a time when many people could not read, and signs were the visual identification of a place. The application finishes off “…. and which premises I intend to keep as an Inn, Ale-house or Victualing House under the sign of the Black Horse”.

The most recent mention of the pub is from 1998 when Christopher Dunhill, the heir to the Dunhill tobacco business was stabbed in the pub, with the landlord also being wounded. Dunhill had been living above the pub and was reported to be in a serious but stable condition at the time.

The Daily Mail reported that:

“The House They Left Behind is a stump of a pub that stands on a corner in
Limehouse, East London, isolated by Hitler’s Luftwaffe and subsequent
redevelopment. By closing time on Monday night there were only eight people in
the bar. Six left. Police are now asking them to come forward.

The two who remained were landlord Tony Fran, 32, and Mr Dunhill, 43, who
appears to have been lodging above the premises while running an oyster stall
on the small plaza outside. At around 11.30, three men carrying at least one
knife entered. Their intention was to murder both Mr Fran and Mr Dunhill.
They left in a dark-coloured car having failed, but only just.

Mr Dunhill had been stabbed 12 times in the head, neck and stomach. Last
night he was ‘stable’ in the Royal London Hospital. ‘He’s definitely on the
mend and should be out soon,’ said his brother Jonathan. But why would someone
want to kill Christopher? ‘I am not prepared to comment on that.’ Mr Fran
received wounds to his arms and buttocks and was discharged next day. He claims
to remember little of the attack.”

To the east of the pub is the green space, Ropemakers Field. This is looking along the space from the southern end, up towards the Limehouse Cut. The street, Ropemaker’s Fields once ran left to right where the shelter now stands.

House They Left Behind

On the opposite side of Ropemaker’s Fields to the pub is a triangular open space, then we find Narrow Street, with on the river side of the street, this historic Georgian terrace, which mirrors the scale of earlier 18th century development on the river.

House They Left Behind

At the western end of the terrace is the Grapes pub, the plaque on the pub claiming a 1583 date for a pub being at this location.

House They Left Behind

Further along the terrace are a mix of architectural styles representing the changing development of the buildings along the river’s edge:

House They Left Behind

The buildings provided the housing, workshops and warehouses that were needed to support the trade and industry on the river, just at the rear of these buildings.

House They Left Behind

Although the pub has gone, it is good that there is a single reminder of the buildings that once ran along Ropemaker’s Fields, so the name The House They Left Behind is still just as relevant.

The name of this short stub of a street also recalls one of the ship building and maintenance related industries that took place in the fields to the north.

Wapping Trivia

To finish off this post – a bit of Wapping trivia. The area to the east of London, both north and south of the river, was used as the backdrop for a number of films and music videos during the late 1970s and 1980s. I know films used east London in the preceding decades, but these were the years when I started taking an interest in these and their London locations.

I have been tracing and photographing the location of many of these for a future post, from  Derek Jarman’s 1978 take on Punk in the film Jubilee through to music videos such as Katrina & The Waves and Walking On Sunshine from 1985, and it was locations from this later video that I was looking for when walking to Ropemaker’s Fields last Monday.

One of the locations has changed very little. This is a still from the video (available on YouTube), filmed in St John’s Churchyard next to Wapping High Street.

House They Left Behind

The same scene today:

House They Left Behind

Hardly changed in the last 25 years, although many other locations used in the video are very different now, or have been lost. More from this video, others and films in a future post.

To finish off, and show how wonderful London looks on a sunny spring morning, a view across St John’s Churchyard towards the church:

House They Left Behind

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Trinity Hospital and Power Station, Greenwich

Trinity Hospital Greenwich can be found facing the River Thames, roughly half way between two pubs, the Trafalgar Tavern and the Cutty Sark. In 1951 my father took the following photo of the river facing entrance and clock tower of the hospital, with the chimneys of the adjacent power station behind.

Trinity Hospital

I suspect his thinking in composing the above photo was to show the contrast between what was at the time the almost 350 year old hospital and the relatively recent power station that then dominated the area. The photo also shows two buildings with very different form and function. One enormous building generating electricity from coal for the tram network of London, the other much smaller building providing accommodation for the poor of Greenwich.

On a fine day last Autumn, i was on my way to the Cutty Sark pub, remembered that my father had taken a photo of the hospital and power station chimneys, but did not have a copy of the original photo with me, so took a couple of comparison photos in landscape rather than portrait, but hopefully they show what has changed, and what has not in the past 70 years.

The entrance gates, entrance and clock tower, with the power station in the background.

Trinity Hospital

A slightly wider view showing all four chimneys.

Trinity HospitalThe main difference between the two photos is the build of the chimneys. The power station has four chimneys. The two chimneys in my fathers photo, and to the left in the above photo date from the first stage of the power station which was opened in 1906. The two chimneys of the second stage, shown to the right of the above photo were originally constructed to the same design, but were soon shortened due to complaints by the Royal Greenwich Observatory.

The construction of the power station used some leading edge technology for the beginning of the 20th century, and an article in the 20th October 1906 edition of the Kentish Independent described the power station:

“THE HEAVENLY TWINS – GREENWICH ELECTRIC POWER STATION: Very much the reverse of beautiful though they are, the two great chimneys which stand side by side, gaunt and forbidding, near the Thames at Greenwich, represent power, importance, and engineering skill. They are the outward and visible sign of the inward wonders of the London County Council’s new power station. One of the largest in the world it will be when completed. 

‘The Heavenly Twins’ Greenwich people have christened the towers, but it is the interior which is to supply the vitality and volatility which will be the better reminder of Angelica and Diavolo. 

Along the side wall of the vast chamber, where the plant is to be stored, runs a series of vertical girders, writes a correspondent who has paid the generating station a visit. On these a travelling iron bridge moves from end to end carrying a crane which lifts any weight up to 50 tons. Heavy objects are taken up at the front door and gingerly carried to any part of the hall. Below us the furnaces, consuming 600 tons a day, occupy the great basement. The dynamos are on the ground floor, in the side gallery a giant switchboard will strike the visitor with awe and fear at its death dealing potentialities.

It will come as a surprise to many homely people to find that here the ‘coal cellars’ are on top of the house. These bunkers comprise 24 square iron chambers, holding in all 16,000 tons of coal. The bottom of each is shaped, in cement and metal, like an inverted cone, the depressed point being an open funnel or shoot, down which the coal falls directly into the furnace openings as the stoker directs.”

The following photo from Britain from Above shows the power station in 1924 with the two “Heavenly Twins”, chimneys from the first phase of the power station nearest to the river and the shortened chimneys of the second phase to the right.

Trinity Hospital

Trinity Hospital is to the left of the power station. The hospital buildings and clock tower facing the river, with the hospital gardens stretching back, parallel to the power station.

The power station supplied electricity to the London tram system, and later to the London Underground, along with Lotts Road in Chelsea. The power station was built on an earlier tramway depot. The following extract from the 1895 Ordnance Survey map shows the hospital in the centre of the map, with the tramway depot to the right.

Trinity Hospital

Credit: ‘Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland’ 

Power stations in the first decades of the 20th century operated independently, with no backup and breakdowns would have an immediate impact to users of electricity, and this was very visible on the London transport system.

A letter to the East London Observer on the 17th October 1908 by the president of the Associated Municipal Electrical Engineers raised two recent failures of the Greenwich Power Station, and the power station at Lotts Road, Chelsea which supplied the London Underground:

“The Greenwich Power Station of the London County Council and the Chelsea Power Station of the Underground Railways, both these stations have recently broken down, with the result that in the former case about 600 to 800 trams were brought to a standstill, and in the latter case all trains and lifts on the Bakerloo, Piccadilly and Hampstead Tube Railways and the District Railways were stopped and the stations and lifts plunged into utter darkness, as well as causing a stoppage on the Wimbledon and Surbiton sections of the London United Tramways systems.”

The author then goes on to propose that these sort of power outages can only be fixed if electricity generating stations are interconnected so there is no single point of failure, and other stations are available to take on the load of a failed power station. An idea that would eventually be implemented across the country in the form of the National Grid, which today provides electricity to the Underground network, with the Greenwich Power Station being available as a back-up generator having been converted to gas operation.

Trinity Hospital is also shown on the 1895 map, and by the time of the map, it was already almost 300 years old. The book “The Endowed Charities of the City of London” (published in 1829) describes the founding of the hospital as:

“By letters patent, King James I, dated 5th June, in the 13th year of his reign (1615) reciting that Henry, late Earl of Northampton, did, in his lifetime, begin to erect a certain edifice at East Greenwich, for the habitation and support of poor men”

Accommodation was provided for 20 poor men, who would live in the hospital along with a Warden. Residents were expected to comply with a set of standards which included not being allowed to go to Taverns or Ale-houses.

A 19th century report of a dinner provides a glimpse of life at Trinity Hospital and for the increased number of residents (now 25). From the 11th September 1841;

“Trinity Hospital, Greenwich – A most gratifying scene was presented at this hospital on Wednesday last, on the occasion of a dinner being given to the inmates, nurses &c, by the Rev. William Jurin Totton, rector of Debden, Essex, and old member of the Mercer’s Company, who are the governors and trustees of the charity. It was pleasing to those who saw the old members, 25 in number, and whose ages amounted to 1680 years, assembled in the sub-hall at a dinner of true old English fare of roast beef, plum-pudding, and other substantial refreshments. The dinner was served soon after noon according to primitive custom; and, afterwards various appropriate toasts were given by Mr Tatham, the warden. ‘God save the Queen’ being sung after that of the ‘ Queen and Royal Family’, by as many of the old men as were able, aided by the young men of Greenwich, whose musical services were kindly volunteered for the occasion.

The crowning point of the evening was the presentation by the liberal donor of the feast, of twenty-five valuable books, consisting of sermons and works of edification and amusement, thus forming the foundation of a library for the use of the poor men in their leisure hours. The Earl of Northampton’s banner was hoisted on the turret of the building, in honour of this innocent festivity, and at night-fall each inmate retired to his chamber with his heart filled with gratitude towards the Rev. Mr Totton, whose health was drank in the ancient silver loving-cup, with three times three.”

The report states that there were 25 residents with a combined age of 1680 years, therefore the average age of the residents was just over 67 years.

Note the reference to the Reverend being an old member of the Mercer’s Company. Trinity Hospital was one of the charities managed by the Mercer’s Company, and this relationship continues to this day with Trinity Hospital being one of the Mercer’s Almshouses. On their website, the conditions for admittance as a resident are:

  • being in reduced financial circumstances
  • reasonable good health and able to look after daily needs
  • resident of Greenwich for at least 4 years

So Trinity Hospital has retained its relationship with the Mercer’s and providing accommodation for local Greenwich residents for almost 400 years.

The London Metropolitan Collage Archive has a photo of Trinity Hospital looking in the opposite direction to the power station, dated 1937:

Trinity Hospital

Image credit: London Metropolitan Archives, City of London: catalogue ref: SC_PHL_02_0151_50_738_C

Interestingly, Collage also has a photo very similar to my father’s photo. Taken in 1960 it was obviously a favorite photographic subject, showing the contrast between two very different chimneys.

Trinity Hospital

Image credit: London Metropolitan Archives, City of London: catalogue ref: SC_PHL_02_0151_62_722

Trinity Hospital is sometimes open during the Open House London weekend and it has been on my list of places to visit, but not yet had the time. Hopefully this year.

As usual, there is so much to find in the immediate local area. Directly opposite Trinity Hospital is the river wall, heightened over the years to prevent flooding. With plaques on the wall detailing the heights and dates of previous high tides.

Trinity Hospital

The plaque on the right records an extraordinary high tide on the 7th January 1928 when 75 feet of the wall were demolished, this must have flooded the hospital.

The river is always making its presence felt along the river walkway. A tell-tale flow of water from underneath this metal gate:

Trinity Hospital

Sticking my camera over the top of the gate reveals a narrow gap between two buildings, with the river surging in.

Trinity Hospital

Passing above the riverside walkway and extending out into the river is the old power station coal jetty.

Trinity Hospital

As can be seen in the Britain from Above photo, the jetty once included two cranes which were used for moving coal from the river to the power station, and for transferring ash from the power station to barges on the river for disposal.

Along the riverside walkway, the power station is surrounded by a high brick wall, I suspect not just to keep people out, but also to keep water out in the event of a high tide.

Trinity Hospital

The wall is covered in a mysterious set of ceramic works that tell the story of a young boy taking his dog for a walk along the Thames foreshore, and finding a strange creature that led the boy into the murky depths of the river. The work was created by Amanda Hinge.

Trinity Hospital

I have featured the Cutty Sark pub before, which is to the east of Trinity Hospital, if you are walking along the river from the ship, the Cutty Sark, the first pub you come to is the Trafalgar Tavern. Built in 1837, the pub stands on the site of an earlier pub, the Old George Tavern.

Trinity Hospital

Facing directly onto the river provides a superb view from the pub, however the high tides get close to the windows.

The power station is still providing a standby capability for the London Underground. Now gas-powered, the station is cabled to a number of points on the underground network, enabling Greenwich to provide electricity should there be problems with the main supply from the grid.

Unfortunately, the chimneys are today much reduced and the original pair do not justify the 1906 title of the Heavenly Twins.

Trinity Hospital continues to provide homes for the elderly of Greenwich, so this strange pairing of buildings look set to continue living next to each other for years to come.

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Cannon Street Station from the Thames Foreshore

The joy of scanning negatives is finding different views of places that have been the subject of other photos. This week’s photo is of Cannon Street Station, photographed from the Thames foreshore at Bankside.

Thames Foreshore

The same view today (although I had walked slightly further away from the river wall):

Thames Foreshore

The view has changed considerably in the 70 plus years between the two photos. The only consistent features are obviously the river, Southwark Bridge and the twin towers at the entrance to Cannon Street Station.

The station has since lost the fantastic roof that stretched back from the entrance towers to the station hotel that once faced onto Cannon Street. The Walkie-Talkie, or 20 Fenchurch Street is the City tower visible from this perspective and the Millennium Bridge stretches over the foreshore, transferring walkers between south and north banks of the Thames.

I love being able to cross-reference photos so you can see both sides of the view. A few months ago I wrote about Emerson Stairs and published the following photo which is looking back from Southwark Bridge towards Bankside and includes the area where my father was standing to take the original photo.

Thames Foreshore

If you look at the photo at the top of the post, there is a Derrick Crane with the jib leaning out over the foreshore, and behind is one of the more traditional riverside cranes. In the photo above, taken from Southwark Bridge, I have ringed a small area. The following photo is an enlargement of this area.

Thames Foreshore

On the left is the crane in the background of the photo from the foreshore and to the right I have ringed the Derrick Crane. This is not easily visible due to the grain and contrast of the film, but can just be seen, so my father was standing just a short distance further to the right of the Derrick Crane, not far from where the conveyor belt taking coal from river barges to the original Bankside Power Station was located.

I have an almost complete set of photos of the south and north banks of the river between Westminster and Tower bridges in the late 1940s, and the plan for a future post is to bring these all together and document a trip along the river showing how both sides have changed in the intervening 70 years.

In the original photo, Cannon Street Station still has the arched metal framework which ran from the station entrance and hotel, all the way to the river entrance and the twin towers.

Cannon Street Station was opened in 1866 and the iron and glass arch was around 700 feet long and must have been a magnificent sight. The following postcard with a photo from the Monument gives an impression of what the arched roof must have looked like soon after completion, and how the new station dominated this area of the City.

Thames Foreshore

Maintenance of the station roof had been neglected prior to the last war, and the glass panels had been removed from the roof, leaving just the iron frame at the start of the war. Bomb damage included many incendiary bombs and a few explosive bombs, however as can be seen from my father’s photo, the majority of the iron frame of the arch survived.

The iron frame of the roof was removed in 1958, and the space above the platforms has been redeveloped with the office space that we see today.

The following photo is looking in the opposite direction, and shows the railway bridge running across the river for Blackfriars Station.

Thames Foreshore

The Thames foreshore is a fascinating place, with plenty of relics of the industrial past of the river. Comparing my father’s photo with view today, it looks as if there is now a more pronounced slope of the foreshore. It looked reasonably flat in the original photo, but as can be seen in my photos from the same place, the foreshore looks to slope down into the river. Possibly more erosion is taking place with increased water flow?

The foreshore is littered with traces of the past. Exposed pipes that run from the land down into the river. What was their original use, or are they still in use?

Thames Foreshore

Chains, the red / orange of tide worn bricks and lumps of chalk that were once used to create level platforms to position barges, all provide evidence of an earlier city.

The main change to the river in the area of my father’s photo has been the construction of the Millennium Bridge, which is just as interesting from below the bridge as from above.

Thames Foreshore

The day I was on the Thames foreshore to take an updated photo was a day of an exceptionally low tide. This is when the river reveals many more features including those that demonstrate that the foreshore is not a flat slope down to the centre of the river. Here a raised bank runs out further into the river.

Thames Foreshore

Almost certainly not a natural feature, but possibly enhanced by the river eroding softer sediment on either side.

Alongside the raised bank, the remains of iron piers run out into the river. The remains of a structure from the days when Bankside was industrialised and dependent on the river.

Thames Foreshore

When the water is this low, it is intriguing to imagine what the view would look like if all the water was drained away. The detritus of a couple of thousand years of London’s history revealed.

During the reconstruction of the area and the new walkway along Bankside, the river wall was replaced by metal piles, however they do not provide an impervious barrier between land and river and there are still plenty of points where water drains into the river, as well as strange pipes which serve no obvious purpose.

Thames Foreshore

For centuries, the river has collected everything that has been lost by those working or travelling alongside, or on the river. Buried under the silt and often returned to the surface following erosion by water flow and the tides. You will not find clay pipes being dropped into the river these days, rather the evidence of 21st century construction work on, or alongside the river.

Thames Foreshore

Low tide is a fascinating time to walk along the Thames foreshore, walking on a couple of thousand years of London’s history. Cannon Street Station has only been there for a very short period in that history, the wonderful arched roof has been lost, but the twin towers will continue to welcome trains into the station for years to come.

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London Wall – A Location Shifting Historic Street

For this week’s post, I am back to tracing the locations of my father’s photos, and this photo dates from 1947. Locating the photo is helped by the street name, London Wall being displayed on one of the low walls built to separate street from bomb damaged buildings. Much of London Wall today is a very different place, not only with the buildings that line the street, but also the location of the street.

London Wall

This is roughly the same scene today, in 2020:

London Wall

There are a couple of features in the 1947 photo which help to confirm the location. I have ringed the first of these features in extracts from the 1947 and 2020 photos below:

London Wall

This feature can be found on top of the magnificent number 84 Moorgate, or Electra House, built in 1903 for the Eastern Telegraph and Allied Companies, one of the early telecommunications companies that built cable networks across the world.

London Wall

The two storey entrance to the building, with the dome at the top, and the feature that can be seen in my father’s 1947 photo.

London Wall

Above the main entrance is this magnificent coloured glass. A figure sits on top of the world, with a glowing orb above her head which sends rays across the seas, where a sailing ship and lighthouse can be seen. Eastern Telegraph was responsible for the installation and operation of a number of sub-sea communications cables that gradually connected the continents, so I suspect the glass mural in some way represented sub-sea cables shedding light across the world by providing the means for instant communications.

London Wall

The feature at the very top of Electra House, and visible from London Wall is in the photo below. For a company that was involved with technologies leading the global communications revolution, I was surprised to see the signs of the zodiac surrounding the world.

London Wall

The second feature that helped to identify the location is this two storey building seen at the end of the section of London Wall shown in the 1947 photo.

London Wall

Although only visible when you are near the building today, as new developments along London Wall have hidden the building from view along much of the street, the building still exists today.

It is the Armourers’ Hall of the Armourers and Brasiers’ Company, a rather nice Georgian building in the neo-Palladian style.  Due to new buildings, I could not photograph the Armourers’ Hall from the same direction as in my father’s photo, so this is the view looking across London Wall.

London Wall

The Armourers and Brasiers Company was formed in 1322 by a number of craftsman looking to maintain standards in the manufacturer or craft of armour.

London Wall

London Wall is two very different streets. The section of London Wall west of Moorgate is a wide dual carriageway, leading from the roundabout with the Museum of London at the centre at the junction with Aldersgate Street. East of the Moorgate junction, London Wall is a narrower street with many pre-war buildings still lining the street.

The following map shows the location of London Wall today, running left to right along the centre of the map, with the roundabout that forms the junction with Aldersgate Street on the left  (Map © OpenStreetMap contributors).

London Wall

The area between Moorgate and Aldersgate Street suffered terrible damage during the war. A large part would be redeveloped as the Barbican Estate, and a major change was made to London Wall. From just west of Moorgate, the road was diverted to a new southerly routing to a large new roundabout.

in the following map extract, the original route of London Wall can be seen coming from the right then moving diagonally up along the map. I have marked the first third with red lines.

London Wall

A third of the distance along, the new London Wall then takes a completely new direction, carving the new dual carriageway through a series of old streets and buildings, many of which had been badly damaged by wartime bombing.

The location of Armourers’ Hall is the green circle on the right. To the left, the red circle is the new roundabout that forms the junction with Aldersgate Street and is the location of the Museum of London. In the centre, there is another landmark that helps confirm the location. This is Brewers’ Hall, set back a short distance from London Wall, with the original, smaller hall shown as the blue oval in the above map.

London Wall

This new section of London Wall between Aldersgate Street and Moorgate Street was opened on the 7th July 1959. As the plaque shown in the following photo indicates, this was intended to be the first part of a major new traffic route through the City of London. A due carriageway providing a northern, east to west route, with the planned Upper and Lower Thames Street providing the southern, east to west route.

London Wall

The new dual carriageway would be lined with new office tower blocks, and the planned Barbican to the north would be the future of City residential living. This was how post war City planning was based on the assumption that car travel would be the future and City streets were needed that provided easier traffic flow, with pedestrian walkways above the streets separating pedestrians from traffic.

Fortunately, the full east and west extensions of the new London Wall did not get built, although part of the eastern stretch of the street was extended to dual carriageway, but not as drastically as the western section.

The differences between the two sections of London Wall can best be seen by taking a walk along the complete length of the street. This is the start, looking at the roundabout junction with Aldersgate Street, with part of the Museum of London in the centre of the street.

London Wall

From the junction with Aldersgate Street, we can look east along London Wall, a view which clearly shows a wide dual carriageway, designed to carry large amounts of traffic, quickly through the City.

London Wall

The buildings that line London Wall, and occupy space over the street are the second incarnation of office blocks along this street, having largely replaced the 1950s / 1960s office blocks that originally lined either side of London Wall.

London Wall was designed specifically for the car, and this can be seen both above and below ground.

Underneath London Wall is a large underground car park operated by the City of London. The car park runs for a large part of the new section of London Wall. The photo below was taken roughly underneath the lamp-post in the above photo.

London Wall

There is a section of the original London wall in the car park – a subject for another post.

The majority of the space either side of London Wall is occupied by gleaming new glass and steel office blocks. One exception are the ruins of the tower of the church belonging to the medieval hospital of Saint Elsyng Spital.

London Wall

The new office blocks that line London Wall are not just tall, they occupy large areas of land, and dwarf older building such as Brewers’ Hall which can be seen in the lower right of the following photo.

London Wall

The building in the following photo is the one that obscures the view of Armourers’ Hall, which is located just behind the building, where Coleman Street meets London Wall (although traffic access between the two streets is now blocked by a pedestrian route along London Wall).

London Wall

Nearing the junction of London Wall and Moorgate, where London Wall continues into the heart of the City as indicated by the gleaming towers in the background.

London Wall

From London Wall, we can look across to Moorgate, and set back from the road is this row of buildings, with a large pedestrian area and small green space between the buildings and London Wall, which help show how the area has changed.

London Wall

The building on the right of the terrace is a pub, the Globe, and this pub, and the other two buildings that make up this terrace can be seen in the map extract below.

London Wall

Credit: ‘Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland’ 

These buildings were originally on Fore Street, a street that once ran all the way up to St Giles Cripplegate. Fore Street has been shortened and blocked of by one of the new buildings alongside London Wall.

Fore Street ran just north of the original alignment of London Wall, and we can still walk part of the original route.

I have ringed a section of the original route of London Wall in the following map extract. Just above the word London, is a small space with the words London Wall.

London Wall

This is the section of Roman Wall in St Alphage Gardens, shown in the following photo:

London Wall

This section of wall helps explain why the street is called London Wall, as the street originally ran along the wall, just inside the City.

The following photo is looking west along what was the street London Wall, the section of wall at St Alphage Gardens can just be seen to the right.

London Wall

The following photo is looking along St Alphage Gardens, what was London Wall, from the junction with Wood Street.

London Wall

The above photo highlights one of the things I find fascinating about the city. Despite the amount of change, you can still trace out many lost streets, and although London Wall has been widened and moved to the south, we can still find the original junction with Wood Street and the original route down to Moorgate.

Returning now to the junction of London Wall and Moorgate, and the three houses on the left that once faced onto Fore Street, this is the old Fox umbrella shop.

London Wall

Now Grade II listed. Thomas Fox first opened an umbrella shop in Fore Street in 1868 and umbrellas were both made and sold on the premises for many years.

The wording below the FOX sign give an indication of the business at the site today, however Fox Umbrellas are still being made and sold from the company’s new location in Shirley, Croydon.

Now lets continue along the street, east of the Moorgate Junction, and this is the original London Wall with a much narrower street and still with many pre-war buildings. Thankfully the original scheme to extend the dual carriageway of the moved length of London Wall was never carried out in full.

London Wall

We have already seen the halls of the Armourers and Brasiers’ Company and the Brewers’ Company, and there is a third hall along London Wall. In the photo below, on the right, the building with the Corinthian Pillars is the hall of the Carpenters’ Company.

London Wall

The Carpenters’ have had their hall on this site in London Wall since 1429. The hall today is the third hall, as the previous hall had been badly damaged during the war.

On the opposite side of the street, old and new buildings sit on opposite corners.

London Wall

The building on the left in the above photo still has original London Wall street signs. Not sure of the exact age of these, but they must be pre-war.

London Wall

Just east of the Carpenters’ Hall, London Wall widens again from a single carriageway to a dual carriageway, as part of the scheme to create a major through route, however along this part of the street, the widening has not been as dramatic as on the section from Moorgate to Aldersgate Street,

Almost at the eastern end of London Wall is the church of All Hallows on the Wall, the name referencing the fact that the church is located up against the Roman wall, with the original church on the site being built on a bastion of the wall.

London Wall

The present church was built in 1767 to replace the earlier church which had become derelict. The church did suffer damage during the war, but was restored in the 1960s, and is now the Guild church of the Worshipful Company of Carpenters.

A short distance further east from the church, just by the green van and traffic lights in the above photo, London Wall comes to an end, where the road continues as Wormwood Street.

That completes a walk along London Wall. A historic street that originally followed the path of the Roman Wall, but now only does this for the eastern section up to Moorgate. Passing Moorgate, London Wall diverts to the south and becomes a large dual carriageway, reflecting the post-war view that city design had to accommodate the car.

However the magic of London is that we can still find the line of the original London Wall, and that these old routes and boundaries have been retained.

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Bache’s Street – An Ordinary London Street?

The inspiration for this week’s post came when a couple of months ago, a reader e-mailed regarding Bache’s Street, a street a short distance to the north-east of Old Street roundabout.

Bache's Street

There was not much initially to find about Bache’s Street. I found some details about the origins of the street, and a tragic murder, but that was about it.

Bache’s Street is a short street of about 106 metres / 348 feet. Nearly every building dates from the later half of the 20th century, and there is nothing of any real architectural merit. It is the sort of street you would only visit if you had business there, or it was on the route to somewhere else.

The view along Bache’s Street, looking north from Brunswick Place.

Bache's Street

I believe that if you dig deep enough, there is always a story to tell about any street in London, and my approach to Bache’s Street is based on a visit to Chepstow in South Wales last year.

Chepstow have implemented a brilliant scheme to highlight who has lived in buildings, along with the business carried out, along the high street of the town. Plaques in the pavement, in front of each building list the previous residents and trades that occupied the building.

Bache's Street

Close-up of the plaque for numbers 17 and 18 Chepstow High Street.

Bache's Street

I think this is a brilliant idea. It makes the history of a place very tangible at the individual level, and standing in front of a building, you can imagine all those who have lived and worked there before.

How could I apply this approach to Bache’s Street? Using census data, could I develop a similar virtual approach, and what else could this data tell us about a typical street in north London?

Using census data from 1881, I built a spreadsheet so the data could be manipulated and sorted. I only had time to work on the 1881 census, but following through on other census years provides a view of how streets and people change over time – I hope to cover this in a future post.

Later in this post, I will take you on a virtual walk through Bache’s Street to meet all 329 people resident in the street for the 1881 census. The data also provides us with a view of how people lived at the time and where they were from, so I will explore this as well, but before getting into this level of detail, some background to the street.

The following map extract shows the location of Bache’s Street, a short distance north-east of the Old Street roundabout  (Map © OpenStreetMap contributors).

Bache's Street

The street did not exist in 1746. The area consisted of fields, formal gardens and orchards. The Haberdashers Hospital was to the east, and the newly built Charles Square was to the south-east. The following extract from John Rocque’s 1746 map of London shows the area, with the future location of Bache’s Street marked with a red line.

Bache's Street

By 1828, the fields had been built over as London’s northward expansion gathered pace. Greenwood’s map of 1828 shows a street in the position of Bache’s Street, but with the name Charles Street. Buildings are shown on either side of the street, and the length of buildings on the eastern side of the street are named Bache’s Row.

I suspect that Bache’s Row may provide a source for the name. The form of the name implies it could have been named after the landowner, builder or owner of the row of houses along the eastern side of the street.

Reynolds’s New Map of London dated 1847 still has the street labelled as Charles Street. The street is circled in the following map extract which also shows how the area had changed in the 100 years since Rocque’s map.

Bache's Street

By the 1881 census, the street name had changed from Charles Street to Bache’s Street – for some reason, the name of the row of houses on the east side had been used for the whole street.

The 1894 revision of the Ordnance Survey map shows a street with houses lining the majority of both sides, but with a Glass Manufactory on the south-east corner of the street, replacing some of the houses.

The Charles Booth poverty map for the area is shown below:

Bache's Street

Bache’s Street is in the centre of the map, and the colour code used for the households along the street is defined as “Mixed, some comfortable, others poor”.

Bache’s Street was explored by George H. Duckworth for Booth’s survey and he walked the area on the 17th May 1898 with Police Constable W.R. Ryland, and he wrote “Only a few dwelling houses at the north east and south east end left. The rest have been replaced by large factories.” This was the start of the change of the street from residential to commercial.

There are also newspaper reports that report on the poor conditions of some of the houses along the street with Aristocratic landlords (Lord Arlington) charging rents for a well maintained property, but which the Medical Officer of Health had found to be unfit for human occupation.

The 1945 maps used for the LCC Bomb Damage maps still show the street much as it was in 1894. Most of the street survived the war, however there was damage to two building half way along the eastern side of the street.

The remaining houses that originally lined Bache’s Street would disappear in the decades following the war, with the land being used for offices and business purposes – a process which has reversed slightly with some of the buildings being converted to flats.

So what can we learn about Bache’s Street from the 1881 census, and more generally about what life was like in the area north of Old Street in the late 19th century?

I transferred the census data for the 329 people living in Bache’s Street at the time of the 1881 census into a spreadsheet, and this is what I found.

The occupants of Bache’s Street were young. The following graph shows the age distribution of the residents.

Bache's Street

The majority of residents were under the age of 40, and the highest number of residents were in the age range 0 to 9.

From the age of 40 onward, there was a rapid decrease in the number of people, with only one resident older than 80.

This could be explained by the type of people attracted to the street – younger families, or it could illustrate the life expectancy of those living in the area in the late 19th century.

The residents of Bache’s Street were generally poor manual workers. There were only 23 houses in the street, but 329 residents. The following graph shows the number of residents at each house in the street. showing how densely packed they were into this short street.

Bache's Street

These houses were occupied by multiple families, and families were not that large. The following bar chart shows the number of members of each family living in Bache’s Street in 1881 (every other name has been omitted to make the vertical axis readable, all families are included. I have only included family members and have excluded lodgers and visitors).

Bache's Street

The largest families in the street consisted of 8 people. The average number of family members across the street was 3.15, so in many ways not that different to today. The families with a single member are typically widows or widowers.

The majority of people living in Bache’s Street in 1881 were born in London, but a significant percentage had moved to London from the rest of the country, and from abroad.

This included 9 people from Germany, 1 from Australia, 1 from Ireland, 1 from Jersey, 1 from Switzerland and 1 from Australia.

I have plotted the birth towns of Bache’s Street residents from the rest of the country in the following map:

Bache's Street

People moved from major industrial towns such as Manchester and Birmingham as well as market town’s such as Bridport in Dorset.

Not a single resident was listed in the census as being born in Scotland or Wales.

What is interesting is the north / south of the river split. There has always been a very distinctive split across London just by travelling across the River Thames. For those living in Bache’s Street, and being born in London, the vast majority were from north of the river. Of the 329 people in the street in 1881, only 11 people were identified as being born south of the river (Bermondsey 2, Lambeth 4, Lewisham 1, Greenwich 1, Southwark 1, Kennington 1, Newington 1).

There were more people in Bache’s Street from outside the UK in 1881, than from South London. It would be an interesting study to see if this was typical and whether there was very little migration or marriage between south and north London, and how far that has changed.

An extract from the 1894 Ordnance Survey map is shown below with Bache’s Street in the centre of the map.

Bache's Street

Credit: ‘Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland’ 

There were 23 individual house numbers in the 1881 census and I have tried to align these accurately on the 1894 Ordnance Survey map, so when we take a virtual walk through the street, we can see where the families lived.

The Public House (P.H.) at the top right of the street was the Globe and had an address on Great Chart Street.

The building on the top left also I suspect had an address on Great Chart Street, and the building below this may have had an address on Styman Street as the longer edge was on this street.

The Glass Manufactory at lower right had been built between the 1881 census and the 1894 map, so working down from the top of the street, I assume that house numbers 2, 4 and 6 occupied this space,

So, lets take a virtual walk along Bache’s Street to meet the residents of the street in 1881.

Today, all the houses have disappeared. The “wework” office block shown in the following photo occupies the space of the odd numbered houses from 1 to 15.

Bache's Street

Number 1 Bache’s Street

Bache's Street

Number 1 Bache’s Street had the most people of any individual house on the street, and also included one of the largest families (the Whiting’s).

Lizzie Bacon is listed as being born in the United States, it would be interesting to know why she moved to London, and how she met her husband Frederick.

The children of many of the residents often had a job related to their parent, for example John Whiting was a Printers Compositor as was his 17 year old son.

Directly across the street from number 1, was the Glass Manufactory in the 1894 OS map. Today, the same space is occupied by an office block. In 1881, this was houses 2,4 and 6.

Bache's Street

Number 2 and 3 Bache’s Street

i have combined these two houses, opposite each other on the southern end of the street, as they had a smaller number of people. The Pike family were the only residents of number 2, with the Winter and Kohlsfer families in number 3.

Bache's Street

Number 3 had a German family, the Kohlsfer. They were obviously recent immigrants to London as their youngest daughter aged 4 had been born in Germany.

There were a number of lodgers throughout the street and lodgers often would come from the same home village or town as the main family, demonstrating the contacts between immigrants to London and their place of birth persisted. The Kohlsfer’s had a German born lodger or boarder, Henrich Hamer who was a 26 year old Furrier from Germany.

Number 4 Bache’s Street

Bache's Street

Number 4 has a possibly interesting tale. Charles Newbegin is listed as a Master Mariner. His wife Elizabeth was born in Jersey in the Channel Islands. Did they meet after he had sailed to Jersey, and he brought her back to London?

The list of occupations also shows how specific jobs were at the time. Many tasks which would be automated in the future were still manual, so for example in number 4 you will find an Envelope Folder.

Number 5 Bache’s Street

Bache's Street

It is interesting to speculate on how people moved around at the time.

Take the Cull family at number 5. Elizabeth Cull, the head of the family (she is not listed as a widow, but is living with her children as a single parent) was born in London, as was her oldest daughter and her son. The middle child, aged 10 was listed as being born in Kendal, Westmoreland.

In the 1871 census, Elizabeth Cull is recorded as living in Kendal with her husband Joseph Cull who was originally from Ireland. So had they moved to London where Clara was born, then moved back to Kendal when Kate was born, and back to London for Joseph’s birth (named after his father). There is no record of what happened to the husband / father Joseph Cull – did he return to Ireland?

Number 6 Bache’s Street

Bache's Street

Many of the families in Bache’s Street continued to have older children at home. For example in number 6, the Russel family still had children aged 24, 22, 21 and 19 at home. If children were not married, this was probably an economical way for the family to live with the Russell family having a total of 4 members working. It must though have contributed to very crowded conditions and as there were 4 families and the single Elizabeth Smith living in number 6, the Russell family could not have had more than a couple of rooms.

Number 7 Bache’s Street

Bache's Street

There are so many interesting job descriptions in the census and in number 7 there were two “Drug Grinders”.

Number 8 Bache’s Street

Bache's Street

Lydia Green who is listed in the census as living at number 8 would suffer a tragic fate in the house six years after the census. The following is a report from the London Daily News on the 11th February 1887:

“The victim Lydia Green, an unmarried woman, thirty-one years of age, was found dead in her bedroom last Saturday morning. She was nearly dressed, she lay on her back in a pool of blood, and she bore a terrible wound on the head, as well as other wounds on the hand and jaw. She lived with her mother and a widowed sister at Baches-street, Hoxton, and she and the sister slept in a back room on the ground floor.

Both sisters went out to work, but Alice, the widowed one, usually rose first, and left the house at ten minutes to seven. The deceased woman rose a little later, and at about half-past seven she usually knocked on the ceiling, as a signal to her mother, who slept in the room above.

On Friday last she went to bed in perfectly good health, her mother previously having heard her talking at the street door with Thomas Currell, a young man with whom she had ‘kept company’ for some years. On Saturday morning, just after the widowed sister had left for her work, the mother in her bedroom, heard noises, as of a person falling, in the room below. She heard these noises three separate time, and after them the step of someone walking sharply along the passage and, the slamming of the street-door. The noises do not appear to have alarmed her, and she lay in bed until half-past seven, when she expected to hear her daughter’s signal on the ceiling.

No signal came, and then the mother went downstairs, and found the poor woman dead as described. There were two wounds on the right hand, which seemed to have been inflicted by bullets, though no bullets were found in them, two other wounds on the right jaw, in which were found some piece of metal that might have been parts of bullets, and a wound above the right eye which extended to the brain.”

The article goes on to explain that Thomas Currell had been out of work since the previous August and may have been jealous of Lydia. Currell was known to Scotland Yard and had been twice in trouble before. They were engaged, however a couple of weeks prior to her death, Lydia had wanted to break off the engagement

At the time of the report Thomas Currell had disappeared, however he would hand himself in to the police a few days later, having no money and suffering from cold and starvation. Newspaper reports at the time complained about the failure of the police to find Currell and it was only because he handed himself in that he was caught. If he had more money, he would have escaped London.

He appeared at the Old Bailey during the first week of April 1887, found guilty and sentenced to death. He was hung at Newgate on the 18th April 1887 at the age of 31.

Number 9 Bache’s Street

Bache's Street

Number 9 Bache’s Street only had a single family. If I have my mapping of house numbers to houses on the Ordnance Survey map correct, then number 6 was the same size house as the rest along this side of the street, so no idea why there was only a single family.

Perhaps they were affluent enough to cover the costs of the whole house, or perhaps this was a temporary position, as people in other rooms had moved on, and no one else had yet moved into the house. The census provides a snapshot of a specific point in time.

Moving back to the even side of the street, and the building in the following photo occupies the space where numbers 8, 10 and 12 were in the 1894 Ordnance Survey map.

Bache's Street

Number 10 Bache’s Street

Bache's Street

Number 10 again shows a range of professions, and also how families must have retained contact with their home towns.

Hanna Perman is listed as being born in Hertford, and the family have a lodger, James Cook, a bricklayer who also came from Hertford. Perman was Hanna’s married name, so John Cook could have been a relative.

Number 11 Bache’s Street

Bache's Street

Residents of number 11 show how families worked together, probably working at home. James Edmonds was a Fancy Box Cutter and his wide Susan was a Fancy Box Maker.

Caroline Denney is listed as being from Australia. She is 25, has a newborn son, and there is no other member of her household. It does make you wonder how she came to be living as a single parent in a Hoxton Street, a long way from her birth place in Australia.

Many of the Occupation entries are blank, implying that the person was not employed. Occasionally there is a reference to being unemployed, or out of work, along with their profession. An  example in number 11 is Edward Wood, an unemployed pie maker.

Number 12 Bache’s Street

Bache's Street

An average number of residents, but still with 4 families living together.

Number 13 Bache’s Street

Bache's Street

By far the majority of occupations are manual work, but occasionally there is something different, such as William Potts being listed as a Musician, but no indication of what instrument or where he played.

The building in the following photo occupies the space where 14 to 22 were located in the 1894 map:

Bache's Street

Number 14 Bache’s Street

Bache's Street

By the age of 15, most children were expected to be working, very few are listed as still being a Scholar from 15 onward.

In number 14, 15 year old Charles Cross was an Errand Boy, Edward Wild was an Engraver and Arthur Wild, a year younger at 14, was a Carman.

Number 15 Bache’s Street

Bache's Street

Louisa Baum was a German born Stick Manufacturer and appears to have been a single parent of a 9 year old son, although I will caveat that with the census being a snapshot in time, so her husband may have been away working or travelling. Census data can only can only tell us so much.

Number 16 Bache’s Street

Bache's Street

Whilst the majority of residents were born in the London area, a significant number were from the rest of the country, and from abroad. In number 16, Thomas Bobbing from Shoreditch had married Lizzie from Switzerland. Did they meet in London or Switzerland?

The following photo shows the space once occupied by numbers 17, 19, 21 and 23:

Bache's Street

Number 17 Bache’s Street

Bache's Street

Number 17 had one of the larger family’s with the Nealon’s having 6 children. John Nealon would have been supporting them all through his job as a Cab Driver, and although their eldest son was an Apprentice Bookbinder at age 14, I doubt he was earning very much.

Number 18 Bache’s Street

Bache's Street

In number 18, Henry Bisband’s occupation is listed as “Japanner”. This was a specialist way of applying a varnish or lacquer, and was intended to imitate Asian furniture and small metalwork.

Number 19 Bache’s Street

Bache's Street

Number 19 was one of the most populated houses on the street with five families and 20 people. The house was also one of the few with someone from south of the river as Charles Selling was born in Lambeth. Apart from Joseph Thorn from Essex, everyone else in number 19 was local.

Number 20 Bache’s Street

Bache's Street

Number 20 had more people than number 19 with 24 people across 7 families, although one family had a single member. The census still listed Phoebe Hodges as the “Head” although she appears to be the only family member.

Phoebe’s occupation is listed as Annuitant, someone who receives an annuity. There is no clue as to her previous circumstances, or profession so no indication as to why she was the only person on the street listed as receiving an annuity. I suspect that this was somewhat unusual on streets such as Bache’s Street, but at 79, and apparently on her own, she would have needed such an income to survive.

Most houses on the street had a single parent, probably indicative of the mortality rate at the time. In number 20 as well as Phoebe, James Wilding is listed as a widower.

Number 21 Bache’s Street

Bache's Street

James Edwards in number 21 is listed as an Unemployed Labourer. He was 58, and therefore one of the older residents on the street. Late 19th century diet, healthcare and a life of manual work probably meant that by today’s standards he would have appeared much older than 58, and he could have been unemployed due to health conditions. I would not really have wanted to have been a labourer at the age of 58 in Victorian London. James and his wife Elizabeth would have had to support themselves on Elizabeth’s money as a Charwoman.

Number 21 also had another German family, with the Seyer’s who again must have moved to London relatively recently as their daughter Clara aged 6 was also born in Germany.

Number 21 also illustrates how frequently older, or only children were named after their parents. George Simpson had the same name as his father, Fanny Simpson had the same name as her mother, and Clara Seyer also had the same name as her mother.

Number 22 Bache’s Street

Bache's Street

Number 22 had the oldest resident on the street with David Benjamin at the impressive age of 86. He was one of the few who were born in the 18th century. He is listed as “Head” so must have been on his own (if he lived with his children, then he would have been head and his children, whatever their age, would have been listed as children).

He does not have an occupation, so one wonders how he supported himself.

Number 23 Bache’s Street

Bache's Street

And finally to the last house on the street, number 23. Again, a large number of people in the house with a wide range of occupations.

James and Martha Daley must have worked together as an Umbrella Frame Maker and Umbrella Coverer – again very specific job roles. The four members of the Farmer family consisted of a Wood Turner, Dressmaker, Coachman and a Wood Carver.

Spencer Dodds at the age of 67 still had to work as a Boot Maker.

Number 23 was the last numbered house on the street. At the northern end of Bache’s Street were two large buildings on the 1894 map, but both of these had Chart Street addresses as they do today.

On the north-east corner of the street was a pub in 1894. This was the Globe. The pub closed in 2013 (although a later version of the building than the one on the 1894 map), and the old pub was finally demolished in 2018 to be replaced with the typical London early 21st century brick clad apartment building shown in the following photo.

Bache's Street

Directly opposite, on the north-west corner of Bache’s Street is this building, again with an address in Chart Street.

Bache's Street

So that was Bache’s Street in 1881. If you accidentally walked through the street (unless you live or work there), I suspect you would not give the street a second glance, and hurry on to your destination, however scratch the surface and we can really understand what life was like on the street, 140 years ago.

Was this an ordinary London street? Probably, a typical working class street where families would cluster together in a limited number of rooms with other families in the same house, all working manual jobs, and struggling to make enough money to survive in any degree of comfort.

Bache’s Street also had a significant number of residents from outside of London and abroad. London has always been a city of inward migration.

Bache’s Street would become more industrial in the decades to come. The Glass Manufactory built over houses 2, 4 and 6 was the first sign of this change.

I may try to return to Bache’s Street in the future and follow-up on later census data to track how the street changed, and what happened to those resident in 1881.

Now I wonder if I can get the above carved into paving stones and placed along the street?

alondoninheritance.com

My 6th Year of Exploring London

The end of February 2020 marks the 6th anniversary of the blog, and exploring London. When I started in 2014 I really did not expect to manage a weekly post for 6 years.

The original aim of the blog was to track down the locations of my father’s photos and to provide an incentive to get out and explore London. It is so easy when travelling around London to take the direct routes between work, home, station etc. and not see how much history is both obvious and hidden across the streets.

This original aim still holds true, and does result in what may seem to be a random series of posts, but hopefully does reflect how much there is to discover across London.

I am also always looking out for ways to take a different view of the city – tomorrow’s main weekly post will be an example. It was inspired by an e-mail from a reader a couple of months ago, and a challenge to see how a subject that at first looked to have limited scope, could reveal a fascinating history of how Londoners lived over a century ago.

Writing at a computer is very much a one way process, and I do worry whether my posts are too long, tedious to read, focus on the right topics etc. In January I started the brilliant Clerkenwell and Islington Tour Guiding course, which will hopefully help with writing a more focused read on a specific topic, learning more about a fascinating area of London, as well as taking the blog from the screen to the streets at some point in the future.

Now for a quick look back over the year, starting in:

March 2019 – The Perseverance or Sun Pub, Lamb’s Conduit Street

When one of the posts covered the Perseverance or Sun Pub, Lamb’s Conduit Street, this was the view of the pub in 1985

So many London pubs have disappeared in the last few decades. The land they occupy frequently more valuable as apartments rather than as a pub. Although the pub has a new name (the Perseverance), it is thankfully still there, although with not such a colourful mural on the typical Victorian pub curved corner.

April 2019 – Walking the South Bank in 1980 and 2019

In April I was back on the South Bank, an area I have visited a number of times over the last 6 years. It is also the perfect site to demonstrate how an area has changed over the years. I started work on the South Bank in 1979, and took photos of the area, which I can add to my father’s photo, and later photos. The following sequence show how the view from the southern end of Hungerford Bridge has changed over the years. This is 1949:

1980:

2019:

A significant change over the past 70 years.

May 2019 – A City Relic In Deepest Hampshire

The City of London has lost so many churches over the years and the contents of these churches could have been destroyed, sold, moved to another church in the City, or perhaps a longer distance move.

One such church is Holy Trinity, Minories, which closed at the end of the 19th century, and today there is no trace of the church, however a key item from the church furniture can be found in a very different place, which I visited in May.

This is All Saints’ Church in the village of East Meon in Hampshire.

And the original pulpit from Holy Trinity, Minories can be seen in the village church:

Including a plaque which confirms the original location of the pulpit, and how it arrived in this Hampshire village.

Strange to see this relic from a City church in a very different location.

June 2019 – St Katharine’s Way and Ship Fires on the Thames

Hopefully I do not make many mistakes, but luckily when I do, the knowledge is out there and readers are able to correct. In June I posted the following photo in a blog about Thomas More Street. The photo had been labelled with this name by my father, so I assumed this was the street, despite some doubts when trying to match the curve in the photo with Thomas More Street.

Luckily readers were able to identify the correct location as St Katharine’s Way, so I was able to return and write an updated post with the right location.

The aim of the blog is to identify the locations of these original photos, so it is brilliant to identify the right place where I have made an error, or there is insufficient information in the photo to identify the location.

July 2019 – Seven St Martin’s Place and London Hotel Growth

In July, I wrote about a former office building at the southern end of Charing Cross Road that was being converted to a hotel. This is Seven St Martin’s Place.

It was interesting to research the considerable growth in hotel capacity across the city, and how this demand is expected to continue to grow.

The front of the building had a number of sculptures by Hubert Dalwood, a very well-respected sculptor in the Modern British movement. When a building undergoes conversion there is always a worry that wonderful original features such as these works could be lost, and there was no mention in the planning documentation of the works, or the requirement to preserve them.

I walked by the building a few days ago, the new hotel is now open, and the sculptures are in the same place and in good condition, so hopefully they will remain there for many years to come.

August 2019 – Southend on Sea – A London Bank Holiday

In August I followed so many thousands of Londoners from previous years and took a trip out to Southend.

Southend is a bit quieter than 1910, when the following newspaper extract introduced a Bank Holiday day at the town:

Very early in the morning the incoming excursion trains began to unload their human cargoes; the railway stations, like gigantic hearts, beat at regular intervals and sent the human tides flowing outwards, to disperse themselves along the various arteries and veins of the town.

Southend Pier, so typical of a Victorian seaside and which marches well over a mile into the Thames Estuary, and the train still carries those who do not want to walk:

Numerous fires have destroyed the buildings at both ends of the pier, but the train is still one of the major attractions on the pier.

September 2019 – Crow Stone, London Stone and an Estuary Airport

Although not in London, this post was my favourite of the year. It involved some careful plan of tides, and an early morning start to get to the London Stone near Yantlet Creek on the Isle of Grain by 6:45 in the morning.

The London Stone is an example of how the City of London extended their authority over much larger areas than just the City, including the most important transport route at the time – the river that carried all cargoes to and from London docks.

It was a brilliant experience standing there at low tide, with the sweep of the Thames Estuary as the day started to brighten.

St Giles Cripplegate and Red Cross Street Fire Station

September also had another fascinating event when I had on display some of my father’s post war photos of the area now covered by the Barbican in the church of St Giles Cripplegate, as part of the Barbican@50 event.

It was brilliant to meet a number of readers and Barbican residents at the event.

St Giles Cripplegate and Red Cross Street Fire Station were the subject of one of my father’s photos:

Impossible to get a photo of the same view today, as the Barbican now surrounds the church and the fire station was demolished as part of the Barbican construction, the following photo is the closest that I could get.

October 2019 – Baltic Street School and Great Arthur House, Golden Lane Estate

I was in the same area for a post in October with another of my father’s photos, this time showing the area now occupied by the Golden Lane Estate. During Open House London weekend I had visited Great Arthur House on the estate. I was busy on the Saturday when the weather was brilliant, and on Sunday, the sky had clouded over and rain showers added to the gloom, but the view of, and from Great Arthur House was fascinating.

The view from the roof of Great Arthur House during a break in the rain.

November 2019 – The View from Greenwich Park – Watching the City Evolve

There are some places in London that provide an ideal reference point to watch how the city changes. One of these places is Greenwich Park from where there is a superb view over the Isle of Dogs and along the River Thames to the City of London.

With prints and photos I tracked the development of the city from 1676 to the present day, but the developments of the last few decades has been the most dramatic with the exponential growth in the number of gleaming tower blocks.

This was the view in 1953:

And a very different view in 2019:

A Remarkable Story of Bravery

November also included a rather special post.

The previous year, I visited the Netherlands to photograph the locations that my father photographed in 1952. This included the Oosterbeek war graves cemetery on the outskirts of Arnhem where those who died during Operation Market Garden are buried.

I was really pleased to be contacted by Paul Brooker, the nephew of Richard Bond, the name just visible at the bottom of the list of names in my father’s photo, and Paul kindly contributed a guest post detailing his research into Richard (Dick) Bond, and the crew and final flight of those named on the grave at the left of my father’s following photo.

It is a remarkable read.

December 2019 – Tintern Abbey – Summer 1947 and 2019

As well as London, my father photographed many sites across the rest of the country, including Tintern Abbey in South Wales in 1947.

On a very hot and sunny day in August of last year, I visited the site, and wrote about the visit in December, hopefully also as a reminder of a summer day, when writing in the depths of winter.

Tintern Abbey is next to the River Wye, one of the main reasons for the abbey location, and the scenic position of the abbey today. Hopefully with all the flooding of recent week’s the abbey, businesses and homes along this stretch of the river have survived without any damage.

Tintern Abbey in 1947:

And in 2019:

January 2020 – The Waterman’s Arms – Isle of Dogs

January 2020 included a 1986 view from outside the Cutty Sark pub in Greenwich across to the Waterman’s Arms on the Isle of Dogs.

In 2019, the view is now somewhat obscured, however the pub is still there, and hopefully after a rather patchy recent history, will soon be returning as a traditional pub, with the original name of the Waterman’s Arms. The pub briefly shone on the national stage in the 1960s when Daniel Farson put on entertainment that would normally be expected in the West End than the tip of the Isle of Dogs.

February 2020 – The Dome at Islington Green

Coming up to date, and in February I visited Islington Green to track down the location of a 1985 photo with a unique structure facing the street.

This was originally the Electric Theatre which opened in February 1909. The statue on top of the dome dates from the time of the cinema, and the domed structure formed the entrance foyer.

The 2020 photo sums up two changes that can be seen across the majority of London streets, the take over by chain shops, and the ever-present CCTV.

In working on the blog, and looking at my father’s photos and also the photos I have taken since the late 1970s, I am constantly thinking about what is a good photo. I do not mean in terms of composition, getting the exposure right etc. but what does a photo do – how does a photo provide the viewer with information, how does a photo evoke a specific moment in time, or a specific place.

I have a number of themes I always photograph when walking London’s streets. Hairdressers (possibly strange, but they are a constant on the streets and they do show how fashions change), pubs (before they disappear), the changing view from specific view points (Greenwich, St Paul’s Cathedral etc.).

I have recently added a new theme – newspaper stands.

This was outside Charing Cross Station, and the headline on a newspaper perfect;y captures a specific moment in time.

So that was my 6th year. For me it has been a fascinating year of exploration, but sitting here typing to a screen would be a rather pointless exercise without anyone to read it – so thank you for reading, commenting, subscribing and e-mailing.

Now for the 7th year, and tomorrow’s post will be a bit long (sorry) but hopefully an interesting exploration of a city street, bringing to life the Londoners who lived on the street over one hundred years ago.

alondoninheritance.com