Category Archives: London Monuments

Trafalgar Square – Coronations, British Housewives And Christmas Trees

Trafalgar Square, one of the most well known locations in London. Visited by thousands of tourists every day, a rallying point for demonstrations, where the 2012 Olympic medals were revealed, and where commemorations and vigils are held, the most recent being after the dreadful terrorist attack at Westminster.

The location of Trafalgar Square is important. It is a key junction, with the Strand leading to St. Paul’s Cathedral and the City, Whitehall leading to the Palace of Westminster and Westminster Abbey and The Mall leading to Buckingham Palace. It is this junction of streets that has resulted in Trafalgar Square being on the route for so many of the processional events the city has witnessed over the last couple of centuries.

Trafalgar Square is also home to Nelson’s Column – the column and the name of the square commemorating the Battle of Trafalgar. On the northern edge is the National Gallery, the church of St. Martin in the Fields is on the north eastern edge and as reminders of the days of Empire the square is fringed by South Africa House, Uganda House and Canada House.

My father took a couple of photos looking across Trafalgar Square 70 years ago in 1947. They show either the preparation for, or dismantling after an event. I do not have a record of the date within 1947 and there are no photos of the event. In 1947 my father was on National Service so I suspect these photos were taken during one of the brief periods back in London on leave.

View across Trafalgar Square looking towards Charing Cross in 1947:

Trafalgar Square

And the same view in 2017:

Trafalgar Square

The following photo is looking towards Whitehall. There is a man working on what appears to be lights in the top of the fountain and more around the base of the fountain. You can see part of a stage on the left, in front of the base of Nelson’s Column.

Trafalgar Square

The same view today – very little has changed in the past 70 years.

Trafalgar Square

Without a date I have not been able to identify the event that required these preparations, and there were no clues in the photos. There were a number of events in and around Trafalgar Square in 1947:

  • The wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Philip Mountbatten took place on the 20th November 1947 and passed the square. Both the square and the surrounding roads were full to capacity with spectators. Police had to form a “crush barrier” with their horses to control the enormous crowds in the square.
  • There were a number of demonstrations in the square during 1947. One of which was the “We Work and Want” protest organised by the British Housewives’ League in June 1947. The Aberdeen Press and Journal reported that “More than 100 motor coaches from Scotland and the North of England are expected to carry women to London for Friday’s rally of housewives at the Royal Albert Hall. Seven thousand angry women will attend the meeting, organised by the British Housewives’ League, at which speakers will denounce the Government’s powers of regimentation and food rationing. On Saturday, 30,000 housewives wearing red, white and blue rosettes will march through the West-End of London after a protest meeting in Trafalgar Square.”
  • 1947 was also the year of the first gift of a Christmas Tree from Norway. A newspaper report from the time reported that “Trafalgar Square is changed as never before. A 48ft Christmas Tree has sprung up on the west side of Nelson’s column. It arrived last week in the Thames, brought from Norway in the S.S. Borgholm. The tree is a Christmas gift to England’s capital from Oslo, Norway’s capital, and tomorrow the Norwegian Ambassador, Mr. Prebensen, will hand it over to our Minister of Works, Mr. Key. This charming gift, to be lit and decorated with artificial snow, is the outcome of a happy thought of Mr. Pieter Prag, manager of the Norway Travel Association. In Oslo every Christmas a giant fir is set up in University Square, where the children flock to see it. Now, in London’s best-known square, British Children will have a similar treat”

I cannot confirm that my father’s photos were connected with any of the above events. I also found newspaper reports of work in the square in 1947 to repair the electrical cabling and lighting, and to remove the hoardings erected around the base of the column during the war, so it could be this work that my father photographed.

As an aside, whilst reading through newspaper articles and letters on Trafalgar Square, I came across the following letter written to the Kent & Sussex Courier regarding the British Housewives’ League which may be one of the earliest “disgusted of Tunbridge Wells” letters:

Sir – I recently attended a British Housewives’ League meeting at Christ Church Hall, Tunbridge Wells. the speaker was Dorothy Crisp, chairman of the League.

I was thoroughly disgusted that a woman would use her talent as a speaker to create strife, ill-feeling and unrest, in this Britain of ours. Her whole attitude took me back to the days when Mosley and his gang held meetings.

She stated that she had already booked Scotland Yard for protection at her mass Rally to be held at Trafalgar Square on June 7. Why the secrecy over the name of the other Party who are joining at Trafalgar Square? Are they Fascists, Communists or Conservatives?

I should like to know the real organisation who are paying to cause this unrest and to fool housewives and use them as camouflage to hide sinister intentions that are obviously in mind.”

As far as I can tell, the British Housewives’ League was a right wing organisation that campaigned for women to stay at home and look after the family, christian values and opposition to state intervention and control. Post war austerity and the Welfare State were claimed not to be in the interests of a free and happy home life. There is a fascinating BBC radio programe on the British Housewives’ League. “The League of Extraordinary Housewives” can still be found on iPlayer Radio here. It is well worth a listen

Another of my father’s photos of Trafalgar Square in 1947:

Trafalgar Square

In these 1947 photos there were a number of illuminated advertising signs on the buildings along the southern side of the square, almost like the start of a mini Piccadilly Circus. Luckily this is one area of London where advertising did not subsequently take over.

The area now occupied by Trafalgar Square was originally part of the Royal Mews, where horses were stabled and carriages stored along with a reasonably dense area of buildings. The following extract from John Rocque’s map from 1746 shows the area now occupied by Trafalgar Square. The church of St. Martin in the Fields in the upper right is a good reference point to see that all the land to the left and above Charing Cross is now occupied by the National Gallery and Trafalgar Square.

Trafalgar Square

In the lower right of the map is Northumberland House. The following photo shows Northumberland House prior to its demolition in 1874. It was the last remaining of the “Strand Palaces” and had been built in 1605. The lion on top of Northumberland House is now at Syon House.

Trafalgar Square

The preperations for the construction of Trafalgar Square were in the Charing Cross Act of 1826. This enabled the land to be used for an open square and the National Gallery.

Work on the National Gallery commenced in 1832 with the Gallery being completed in 1838 to a design by William Wilkins. Trafalgar Square was constructed over a couple of decades. The core design was by Charles Barry, although his design did not include the fountains and he opposed Nelson’s Column being part of the square, arguing that it would dwarf the National Gallery.  The fountains were completed in 1845 and the layout of the square in 1850.

Work on Nelson’s Column began in 1839 with the statue of Nelson being raised into position in November 1843. The bronze lions were added in 1867.

There were a number of alternative proposals for the design of the naval monument, as Nelson’s Column was originally called during the planning stages, including the following by John Goldicutt from 1833 (©Trustees of the British Museum).

Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square today, continues as a central hub towards the west of London and is always busy. The terrace area in front of the National Gallery is from where my father took his photos looking across the square. Today, it is mainly selfies in front of the National Gallery and with the square in the background, and also the home to that essential visitor attraction – the floating Yoda, of which there are far too many both here and across London.

Trafalgar Square

Although the more traditional form of street artist still survives:

Trafalgar Square

One of the major attractions for children at Trafalgar Square was feeding the once significant number of pigeons. Vendors would sell seed in the square and I remember doing this as a child in the 1960s. Feeding the pigeons was made illegal in 2003 which has resulted in a much improved environment – although probably rather boring for small children. Today there are still signs stating that pigeon feeding is banned.

Trafalgar Square

On the south east corner of the square is the very small building that was used as a police lookout during major events in the square.

Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square’s location puts it on the route for any procession between the City, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Buckingham Palace, the Place of Westminster and Westminster Abbey. Crowds have long used Trafalgar Square as a location to watch these events and in recent decades it provides a good location for the media to assemble.

My father also took a number of photos on the morning of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II on the 2nd June 1953. The full post with these photos can be found here, and I have included two from Trafalgar Square below. The first photo is looking north from the southern edge of the square and shows crowds around one of the lions.

Trafalgar Square

The same view today:

Trafalgar Square

I wonder how many people have sat in front of the lion over the years. Whilst I was there, numerous children were being lifted to sit for photos between the paws of the lion.

Another of my father’s photos from 1953:

Trafalgar Square

And again in 2017:

Trafalgar Square

And it is not just in this century that Trafalgar Square has featured in such events. This drawing from 1838 shows the procession of Queen Victoria to her coronation passing the square, with the National Gallery in the background and the church on St. Martin in the Fields on the right (©Trustees of the British Museum).

Trafalgar Square

The notable feature absent from the above drawing is Nelson’s Column. Work on the column would begin the following year.

As well as being a bystander to events, the square has also been the subject of major ceremonies, for example on the Centenary of the Battle of Trafalgar on the 21st October 1905. The square was crowded and Nelson’s Column decorated for the special event as shown in the postcard below:

Trafalgar Square

It was not just the centenary event that attracted crowds. The Pall Mall Gazette reports on the 11th October 1905 “Steeplejacks in Trafalgar Square – Preparations for the decoration of the Nelson Monument in Trafalgar Square in connection with the forthcoming anniversary have already been commenced. This morning the operations of three steeplejacks, who were engaged in girding the column with stout ropes from ladders strapped to the structure, were watched with great interest by a large crowd.”

Ladders strapped to the side must have been a rather risky exercise given the lack of health and safety at the start of the 20th century.

Another view of the square in the early 20th century. The traffic and complexity of the road layout remains to this day and is a result of the square being at the point where so many major streets meet.

Trafalgar Square

Although I have not checked, I suspect Trafalgar Square has featured in the majority of Coronations. The following postcard shows the procession during the coronation of King George V passing Trafalgar Square on the 22nd June 1911.

Trafalgar Square

I have been working out of the country for much of the past week, and as with most of my posts, I feel I have only just scratched the surface of the history of this area. There is so much more on the area prior to the construction of Trafalgar Square, the work on building the square and column, the fountains and their water supply, the many other events that have taken place in and around Trafalgar Square (for example whilst researching 1947 I also found the story of an alleged terrorist bomb blast at the Colonial Welfare Club in St. Martin’s Place off Trafalgar Square which injured six airmen). You can though read about one of the tunnels under Trafalgar Square here.

But at least if you are ever in a London trivia quiz and you need to know who was responsible for the first Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree, it was Mr. Pieter Prag, Manager of the Norway Travel Association.

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The Roman Wall On Tower Hill

Tower Hill is one of the best places to see remnants from London’s early history. A couple of weeks ago I featured the church of All Hallows by the Tower with the Saxon arch and Roman floor, this week it is the turn of the Roman Wall on Tower Hill.

This is my father’s photo from 1947 showing a length of Roman wall on Tower Hill.

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It was easy to locate this length of wall, the cut out section at the end of the wall is a clear marker of which side of the wall is the subject of the photo. My father took the photo in the afternoon as the sun was shining directly onto the wall. When I visited, I made the mistake of being there in the morning when the sun was just over the eastern edge of the wall and caused problems trying to get the same photo, so I took the following slightly edge on, still with some impact from the sun, however it clearly shows the same cut out section and has the benefit of positioning the location of the wall by showing the Tower of London in the background.

roman-wall-on-tower-hill-3

Today, this length of wall stands in isolation, however this area of Tower Hill was once full of buildings and as can be seen from my father’s photo there is a building at the end of the wall and parts of the roof of a building on the other side of the wall can just be seen.

The wall today is just outside Tower Hill Station, however in 1947 the station did not exist. An earlier Tower Hill Station had closed in 1884 and Mark Lane Station (located opposite All Hallows by the Tower) had served the area. Mark Lane Station (more on this in a future post) closed in 1967 when the present Tower Hill Station opened.

The following extract from the 1940 Bartholomew’s Atlas of Greater London shows the route of the underground (the black and white line) with Mark Lane Station clearly marked in the centre of the map opposite the church, and no mention of Tower Hill Station, as it did not exist at this time.

map-2

One of my books on London is a little publication with the title “London Wall Through Eighteen Centuries”. Published in 1937 for the Council for Tower Hill Improvement, the book is a detailed history and survey of the London Wall with articles on the history of the wall in Roman, Medieval, Tudor and later times, and a detailed guide of where to find the wall (one of my many future projects is to use this book as a guide to walking the wall today to see how the wall, its visibility, condition and the route has changed since 1937).

One of the photos in the book is the same section of the wall as my father photographed with the same cut out section at the end of the wall and the same markings on the wall. I will have to return one afternoon and get a better photo with the sun in the right position.

The photo shows how the wall was part of the surrounding buildings – very different to today.

roman-wall-on-tower-hill-7

My father also photographed parts of a Roman tombstone which had been found on Tower Hill. Two parts of the tombstone were found, with the first top section in 1852 and the lower section during construction of an electricity substation at Tower Hill in 1935. The following photo shows these parts, which I believe are the originals inserted in a surrounding stone with the missing lettering added to the smooth stone on the top block.

roman-wall-on-tower-hill-1

The words Dis Manibvs confirm this to be a tombstone as they mean “to the shades of the dead”. The middle section is missing, however the tombstone appears to be to Gaius Julius Alpinus Classicianus, the procurator of the province of Britain after Boudica’s revolt, so very early in the Roman occupation of Britain. The tombstone was set up by his wife, Julia Pacata Indiana.

If the stones in my father’s photo are the originals, I believe they have since been moved to the British Museum and today a modern replica exists at Tower Hill. I have not had time to check, but if you know if the originals are at the British Museum, or another location I would be interested to know.

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There is a small park area on the opposite side of the wall, this was occupied by buildings in the earlier photos above.

roman-wall-on-tower-hill-6

There is another large section of wall on Tower Hill, although not so visible. This sections runs further back from the above section between offices on the right and the CitizenM hotel on the left.

roman-wall-on-tower-hill-5

The book “London Wall Through Eighteen Centuries” has another photo of the wall at Tower Hill, but of a section that does not now exist. The following photo is captioned “The Roman Wall at Trinity Place, Tower Hill, being destroyed when that part of the Inner Circle Railway was constructed in 1882. The east side of the wall showing the foundations, external plinth and one bonding course.”

roman-wall-on-tower-hill-8

I assume that this part of the wall needed to be destroyed due to the cut and cover technique of building this section of the underground.

The book provides more detail on the wall at Tower Hill. In the section titled “Where to find the wall” by Walter G. Bell, he writes about the Tower Hill section:

“It is built into Barber’s Bonded Warehouses, which you enter from Cooper’s Row, Trinity Square – or, more truthfully, I might say this part of the wide-spreading vaults and floors is added to the old City Wall. Long ago, when Barber’s premises were about to rise under scaffolding, the builder found the City Wall there standing, and I picture him gazing at it, lost in thought, in puzzling wonder what he should do. To destroy it with pickaxe and shovel would be a herculean and costly task. It is immensely thick, and hard as iron. How long ago that was I cannot tell, but the partner of Messrs. Joseph Barber & Co. who showed me the wall, with lamp held at the end of a lath and lighted that I might explore its intricacies, mentioned to me his great-grandfather as having been a member of the firm owning these vaults.

Why waste a good wall? The question had only to be asked to be answered, and with a few shallow windows added at the bulwark level and a course or two of brick, the warehouse roof was sprung from the top. So the structure continues to do good service, as it has done eighteen or more centuries ago, and to the builders happy inspiration (with the added savour of economy) is owning the preservation of the most complete fragment of the City Wall today, and one may hope for all time, now that the Corporation are beginning to realise the value of the City’s historical antiquities.”

These paragraphs by Walter G. Bell tell us so much about how London’s wall has survived and the attitude to the wall. Those sections that still remain are there because they could serve some purpose over the centuries. They are there as they could provide a wall without the need to build a new one, they are there as sometimes they would have cost more to destroy. Written in 1937, it was only then that the historic value of the wall was starting to be considered.

It is the Barbour’s Warehouse Buildings that be seen in my father’s photo and the photo from the book with the roof above the Roman Wall and at the end of the wall.

There is one final intriguing photo in the book on the wall at Tower Hill. The following photo is captioned “A medieval window in the Wall in Barbour’s Warehouse, Cooper’s Row, Tower Hill, November 1936”.

roman-wall-on-tower-hill-9

Coopers Row is shown in the 1940 map above, to the right of Trinity Square. I believe this may be in the section running back past the CitizenM hotel, but I could not get close enough to check, but again it demonstrates how the wall has been incorporated in other buildings over the centuries.

The book “London Wall Through Eighteen Centuries” provided a complete survey of the wall as it was in 1937, just as the importance of preserving antiquities such as the wall was starting to be understood.

Hopefully, one day I will get the time to explore the full length of the London Wall using the 1937 book as my guide, but until then I will try and get back to Tower Hill and take a better photo with the right lighting of this lovely remaining section, now standing free of Barber’s Bonded Warehouses.

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Caledonian Park – History, Murals And A Fire

Caledonian Park in north London in the Borough of Islington is today a green space in a busy part of London, with few reminders of the areas rich history.

I have much to write about Caledonian Park so I will cover in two posts this weekend. Today some historical background to the area, some lost murals and finding the location of one of my father’s photos. Tomorrow, climbing the Victorian Clock Tower at the heart of the park to see some of the most stunning views of London.

Caledonian Park is a relatively recent name. Taking its name from the nearby Caledonian Road which in turn was named after the Caledonian Asylum which was established nearby in 1815 for the “children of Scottish parents”.

Prior to the considerable expansion of London in the 19th century, the whole area consisted of open fields and went by the name of Copenhagen Fields. There was also a Copenhagen House located within the area of the current park.

The origin of the Copenhagen name is probably down to the use of the house (or possibly the construction of the house) by the Danish Ambassador for use as a rural retreat from the City of London during the Great Plague of 1665.

Copenhagen House became an Inn during the early part of the 18th century and the fields were used for sport, recreation and occasionally as an assembly point for demonstrations, or as Edward Walford described in Old and New London, the fields were “the resort of Cockney lovers, Cockney sportsmen and Cockney agitators”

The following print shows Copenhagen House from the south east in 1783, still a very rural location.

1125319001 ©Trustees of the British Museum

During the last part of the 18th century, Copenhagen Fields was often used as a meeting point for many of the anti-government demonstrations of the time. Old and New London by Walter Thornbury has a description of these meetings:

“In the early days of the French Revolution, when the Tories trembled with fear and rage, the fields near Copenhagen House were the scene of those meetings of the London Corresponding Society, which so alarmed the Government. The most threatening of these was held on October 26, 1795, when Thelwall, and other sympathisers with France and liberty, addressed 40,000, and threw out hints that the mob should surround Westminster on the 29th, when the King would go to the House. The hint was attended to, and on that day the King was shot at, but escaped unhurt.”

The meetings and threats from groups such as the Corresponding Societies led to the Combination Acts of 1799 which legislated against the gathering of men for a common purpose. It was this repression that also contributed to the Cato Street Conspiracy covered in my post which can be found here.

The following is a satirical print from 1795 by James Gillray of a meeting on Copenhagen Fields “summoned by the London Corresponding Society” which was “attended by more than a hundred thousand persons”.

140569001

©Trustees of the British Museum

Copenhagen Fields continued to be used for gatherings. In April 1834 there was a meeting in support of the Tolpuddle Martyrs, who had been sentenced to transportation to Australia for forming a trade union. Walter Thornbury provides the following description: “an immense number of persons of the trades’ unions assembled in the Fields, to form part of a procession of 40,000 men to Whitehall to present an address to his Majesty, signed by 260,000 unionists on behalf of their colleagues who had been convicted at Dorchester for administering illegal oaths”.

The final large meeting to be held in Copenhagen Fields was in 1851 in support of an exiled Hungarian revolutionary leader. The role of this rural location was about to change very dramatically.

Smithfield in the city was originally London’s main cattle market however during the first half of the 19th century the volume of animals passing through the market and the associated activities such as the slaughter houses were getting unmanageable in such a densely populated part of central London.

The City of London Corporation settled on Copenhagen Fields as the appropriate location for London’s main cattle market and purchased Copenhagen House and the surrounding fields in 1852. The site was ideal as it was still mainly open space, close enough to London, and near to a number of the new railway routes into north London.

Copenhagen House was demolished and the construction of the new market, designed by the Corporation of London Architect, James Bunstone Bunning was swiftly underway, opening on the 13th June 1855.

A ground penetrating radar survey of the area commissioned by Islington Council in 2014 identified the location of Copenhagen House as (when viewed from the park to the south of the Clock Tower) just in front and to the left of the Clock Tower.

The sheer scale of the new market was impressive. In total covering seventy five acres and built at a cost of £500,000. There were 13,000 feet of railings to which the larger animals could be tied and 1,800 pens for up to 35,000 sheep.

Market days were Mondays and Thursdays for cattle, sheep and pigs, and Fridays for horses, donkeys and goats. The largest market of the year was held just before Christmas. In the last Christmas market at Smithfield in 1854, the number of animals at the market was 6,100. At the first Christmas market at the new location, numbers had grown to 7,000 and by 1863 had reached 10,300.

The following Aerofilms photo from 1931 shows the scale of the market. The clock tower at the centre of the market is also at the centre of the photo with the central market square along with peripheral buildings in the surrounding streets.

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The 1930 edition of Bartholomew’s Handy Reference Atlas of London shows the location and size of the market:

Caledonian map 1

As well as the cattle market, the construction included essential infrastructure to support those working and visiting the market. Four large public houses were built, one on each of the corners of the central square. The following Aerofilms photo from 1928, shows three of the pubs at corners of the main square. The two large buildings to the left of the photo are hotels, also constructed as part of the market facilities

The clock tower is located in the middle, at the base of the clock tower are the branch offices of several banks, railway companies, telegraph companies along with a number of shops.

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A 19th century drawing shows the clock tower and the long sheds that covered much of the market:

Die_Gartenlaube_(1855)_b_089

By the time of the First World War, the cattle market had started to decline and was finally closed in 1939 at the start of the Second World War, with the site then being used by the army.

After the war, the slaughter houses around the market continued to be used up until 1964, when the London County Council and the Borough of Islington purchased the site ready for redevelopment. The Market Housing Estate was built on much of the site, although by the 1980s the physical condition of the estate had started to decline significantly, and the estate had a growing problem with drugs and prostitution. Housing blocks were built up close to the clock tower and there was limited green space with many concrete paved areas surrounding the housing blocks and the clock tower.

A second redevelopment of the area was planned and planning permission granted in 2005. The last of the Market Estate housing blocks was demolished in 2010 and it this latest development which occupies much of the area today.

In 1982 a number of murals illustrating the history of the market were painted on the ground floor exterior of the main Clock Tower building of the original Market Estate. In 1986 my father took some photos of the murals during a walk round Islington. As far as I know, these murals were lost during the later redevelopment of the area.

The introductory mural providing some history of the market:

Cattle Market Murals 1

A scene showing the opening of the market by Prince Albert in 1855. A lavishly decorated marquee hosted a thousand invited guests to mark the opening of the market.

Cattle Market Murals 2

The central clock tower painted on the Clock Tower building of the housing estate:

Cattle Market Murals 3

Other scenes from around the market:

Cattle Market Murals 4

Cattle Market Murals 5

As well as the photos of the murals, almost 40 years earlier in 1948 my father had taken a photo of the aftermath of a fire. I was unsure where this was and I published the photo below a few weeks ago in my post on mystery locations.

Old Pub Road 1

One of the messages I had in response to this post (my thanks to Tom Miler), was that the building at the back of the photo looked like one of the pubs at the Caledonian Market.

I took a walk around the periphery of the site trying to work out which of the streets and pubs could be the location of my father’s photo and found the following:

Pub Road 1

This, I am sure, is the location of my father’s photo. The street is Shearling Way running along the eastern edge of Caledonian Park. I probably should have been a bit further back to take the photo, however the rest of the road was closed and full of cars unloading students into the student accommodation that now occupies the southern end of Shearling Way – an indication of how much the area has changed.

The pub is hidden behind the tree, although it is in the same position and the chimneys are clearly the same and in the right position. The old yards and sheds that had burnt down on the right of the original photo have been replaced by housing.

I was really pleased to find the location of this photo, it is one I thought I would not be able to place in modern day London.

This Aerofilms photo from 1948 shows the pub from the above photo at the top left of the main market square with the road running up to the right. Above the road is the area that was the scene of the fire.

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This is another photo of the scene of the fire and the housing in the background can also be seen in the above Aerofilms photo, further confirming the location.

Unknown Locations 17

Walking down the street I took the following photo of the pub, the front of the pub has the same features as on the 1948 photo.

Pub 1

The pub was The Lamb, unfortunately, as with the other pubs on the corners of the old cattle market, it is now closed.

To the left of the first half of the street, adjacent to the park, the original market railings are still in place:

Market Railings 1

A short time after the opening of the Cattle Market, a general or flea market had become established alongside. This market grew considerably and was generally known as the Cally Market, a place where almost anything could be found for sale. By the start of the 20th century, the size of the Cally Market had outgrown the original Cattle Market.

The journalist and author H.V. Morton visited the market for his newspaper articles on London and later consolidated in his book “London” (published in 1925) and wrote the following:

“When I walked into this remarkable once a week junk fair I was deeply touched to think that any living person could need many of the things displayed for sale. For all round me, lying on sacking, were the driftwood and wreckage of a thousand lives: door knobs, perambulators in extremis, bicycle wheels, bell wire, bed knobs, old clothes, awful pictures, broken mirrors, unromantic china goods, gaping false teeth, screws, nuts, bolts and vague pieces of rusty iron, whose mission in life, or whose part and portion of a whole, Time had obliterated.”

The Cally Market was also used during both the first and second world wars for major fund raising events. This poster from the first world war:

IWM PST 10955

 © IWM (Art.IWM PST 10955)

Along with the murals, my father took a photo of the Clock Tower in 1986. The original housing blocks that reached up to the clock tower can be seen on either side. The clock tower is surrounded by concrete paving.

Old Tower View 1

This is the same scene in 2015 from roughly the same point (although I should have been more to the left). The old housing blocks have been demolished and the clock tower is now surrounded by green space.

New Tower View 1

Looking at the above photo, the wooden steps that provide the route up inside the Clock Tower can be seen through the two windows.

Join me for tomorrow’s post as I climb the tower to the viewing gallery at the top for some of the best views across London.

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The Cornhill Water Pump

The City of London appears to be changing by the day with construction sites on every corner, however there are still some locations that have changed remarkably little over the past 70 plus years. This week’s post is about one such location, centred on the Cornhill Water Pump.

Cornhill is one of the streets that meet at the major road junction adjacent to the Bank of England. Originally the location of the north wall of the first Roman settlement, and later at about the centre of the city as Roman London developed from the original settlement.

My father took the following photo of the Cornhill Water Pump in 1948:

Cornhill Water Pump 1

This is the view of the pump from the same location, 67 years later in 2015:

Cornhill Water Pump 2

I will come on to the history of the pump, but what did surprise me as I was taking the photo is how little has changed. Not just the stonework of the buildings opposite (which have been cleaned in the intervening years), but also the windows, the large lamps either side of the door on the right and the stone decoration on both buildings. The man standing on the right of the 1948 photo could stand in the same position today and (apart from the traffic and the post box) see little change.

The building on the right of the photo was occupied by the Commercial Union Assurance Company, and to the right of this (just out of the photo) is the building originally built for Lloyds Bank.

During construction of the Lloyds Bank building in 1927, the roadway in Cornhill collapsed, with the result that part of the original Commercial Union building also collapsed. The damage was so bad that the Commercial Union building had to be rebuilt. It was completed in 1929 and it is that building we see today.

The collapse of the roadway was put down to the loose condition of the soil due to the Walbrook stream having once flowed across this part of the City down to the Thames.

The following photo from August 1927 shows the collapse of the roadway. It was taken from the main Bank junction looking down Cornhill. The Royal Exchange building is on the left. Note the tripod crane structure occupying the whole of the road at the approximate position of the water pump.

Cornhill Water Pump 7

The pump has been restored a couple of times since 1948, the last restoration was a few years ago, when the stone water trough between the pump and the road was also removed. The pump provides some historical background:

The well was discovered much enlarged and this pump erected in the year 1799 by the contributions of the Bank of England, the East India Company, the neighbouring Fire Offices together with the bankers and traders of the Ward of Cornhill

The view of the pump from the pavement. A real shame that it is also used as a prop for traffic signs.

Cornhill Water Pump 3

The road facing side of the pump provides an indication of the antiquity of the site:

On this spot a well was first made and a house of correction built thereon by Henry Wallis, Mayor of London in the year 1282 

Cornhill Water Pump 4

Sir Walter Besant writing in “London – The City”  in 1910 refers to the origin of the pump, using the original spelling of the mayor, Henry Wallis: “A conduit built by Henry le Waleys in 1282, and there was a standard for Thames water brought their by the contrivance of one Peter Morris, a Dutchman.”

Besant also refers to several conduits and a spring in the area of Cornhill, but it is not clear whether he is referring to the location of the pump. There were many pumps and wells sunk all over the City, typically shallow and reaching a depth of 30 feet. They would have about 14 foot of water in the winter reducing to 3 foot in the summer.

At some point, the well was covered, as the rediscovery in 1799 was caused by “a sinking of the pavement in front of the Royal Exchange, March 16, 1799” according to Springs, Streams and Spas of London by Alfred Foord. This book was published in 1910 and contains a detailed account of the many water sources across London. It also features the Cornhill pump on the front cover:

Cornhill Water Pump 6

Writing in 1910 Foord also states that “The well and pump have been disused for some years past; the water which fills the trough, so much enjoyed by the many horses of passing vehicles, being derived from the New River Company’s mains. The iron case of the pump remains, but deprived of handle and spout. The whole structure would be much better for a coat of paint, which would not only improve its appearance, but would also tend to arrest decay.” 

I am sure that 105 years later, Foord would be very pleased with the condition of the pump today.

Continuing the theme of public water supplies, a short distance away from the water pump is a large and ornate drinking fountain:

Cornhill Water Pump 5

This was erected in 1911 and unveiled by the then Lord Mayor of London, Sir T. Vezey Strong on the 3rd May 1911. It replaced an earlier drinking fountain from 1859.

The current fountain was built to commemorate the jubilee of the Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association.

The association, originally called just the Metropolitan Drinking Fountain Association, (the Cattle Trough reference was added in 1867 to highlight the need to provide water for the many animals still on the streets of London), were responsible for the provision of a large number of drinking fountains across London. Another survival can be found at the north end of Blackfriars Bridge (see my post which can be found here)

The fountain today, like the pump, is just decorative without a supply of water and therefore unable to fulfil the intended function, however they are both a reminder of the many water fountains, wells, pumps and conduits that helped provide water to the inhabitants of London over the centuries.

The sources I used to research this post are:

  • London by George Cunningham published in 1927
  • Springs, Streams And Spas Of London by Alfred Stanley Foord published in 1910
  • The Face Of London by Harold Clunn published in 1932

alondoninheritance.com

Trinity Square Gardens – Memorials To Execution And Wartime Sacrifice

This week’s photo is from early 1947 and is one of the photos for which I did not have any location information and I was not sure whether I would ever find the location. There are no obvious landmarks or features that would help identify where the photo was taken.

We are in a park in London and a boy is looking at some form of memorial. I should have realised where it was, but such are the changes looking in this direction across the park, it was not immediately obvious.

There is only one part of this photo that remains the same in 2015 and that is the building on the left of the photo. When walking in London, I carry my father’s photos with me on an iPad which makes checking locations so much easier and chance finds I can compare with the original photo I believe I have found.

After taking last week’s photos under the southern approach to Tower Bridge, I walked across the bridge and cut through into Trinity Square Gardens at the top of Tower Hill, just past the Underground Station. Behind the war memorial I found the location of the 1947 photo.

This is Trinity Square Gardens and the boy is looking at the memorial to the executions carried out on here, and the buildings across the gardens are in Coopers Row.
Tower 1

This is the same scene in 2015. The layout of the execution memorial has been changed and looks slightly smaller but still appears to be in the same position. Much of the grass in the 1947 photo is now covered by the World War 2 memorial to merchant seamen. Nearly all the buildings in Coopers Row have changed with the exception of the building on the left, behind the tree. This was the building that confirmed this as the correct location.

Tower 2

The Execution Memorial is on the approximate spot of the scaffold and has a number of plaques listing the names and year of execution of many of the more well-known victims. The central plaque states that the memorial is:

“To commemorate the tragic history and in many cases the martyrdom of those who for the sake of their faith, country or ideals staked their lives and lost.

On this site more than 125 were put to death. The names of some of whom are recorded here.”

Around the edge of the memorial are four plaques listing the names of those executed.

plaque 1a

plaque 2a plaque 3a plaque 4a

Whilst the names of some of Henry VIII’s victims such as Sir Thomas More and Thomas Cromwell are recorded, the names of his wives who were executed are not as they were executed more privately inside the Tower of London rather than suffer the public spectacle of an execution on Tower Hill.

As well as the Execution Memorial, Trinity Square Gardens is also home to two other memorials.

The World War 1 memorial to those lost on the Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleets is not visible in the 1947 or 2015 photos, but is just to the right. This was finished in 1928 and design by Sir Edwin Luytens who was also responsible for the design of the Cenotaph in Whitehall.

This memorial consists of a number of vaults with plaques recording the names of those lost at sea.

Looking through the 1st World War memorial:

Tower 7

Below the 1st World War memorial is the much larger memorial to those lost in the Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleets during the 2nd World War. This occupies the grassed area in my father’s 1947 photo and can be seen in my 2015 photo.

The following photo is looking across to the 2nd World War memorial from that of the 1st World War. The inscription on the large stone block between the two seats reads:

“The twenty-four thousand of the merchant navy and fishing fleets whose names are honoured on the walls of this garden gave their life for their country and have no grave but the sea”

This memorial was opened by the Queen on the 5th November 1955. It was designed by Sir Edward Maufe who was also responsible for Guildford Cathedral and the Runneymede Air Forces memorial.

Tower 4

This map extract from 1940 shows the location of Trinity Square Gardens. I find these old Bartholomew maps interesting as they also show the routes of underground lines. The dashed lines routing through Trinity Square just above the red block of the war memorial is the Circle Line. This was built using the cut and cover technique where the tunnel was dug from the surface then covered over. In the above photo, the tunnel is below the grass section between the 1st and 2nd World War memorials.

trinity map 1

Steps either side provide access to the main area of the memorial. The following photo is looking back towards the 1st World War memorial. The Tower of London can be seen to the left. Tower 3

Arranged around the edge of the memorial are a number of alcoves, each with panels listing the names of those lost during the war.

It is all too easy to get desensitized to large numbers, but walking around this memorial and reading the names, each an individual with their own unique story, really brings home the sacrifices made by so many.
Tower 5

Between each of the alcoves is a sculpture by Sir Charles Wheeler representing the sea. Here, directly opposite the entrance is Neptune:

Tower 8

Looking through the names In the 1st World War memorial, which are organised by the name of the ship, I found the King Lud, which seemed an appropriate connection with London. The memorial lists the names of those lost with the ship.

Tower 6

Although in the 1st World War memorial, this ship was lost in the 2nd World War. There was a King Lud in the 1st World War, however the crew survived. It was captured by the German cruiser, the Emden on Friday 25th September 1914 off Point de Galle, Sri Lanka. The crew were taken off and the ship sunk.

The King Lud that this memorial refers to was sunk on the 8th June 1942 by a Japanese submarine, the I-10. The King Lud was sailing from New York to India when it was attacked in the Mozambique Channel (the area of sea between mainland Africa and Madagascar).  The ship was carry military personnel and government supplies. There were no survivors.

The Master of the King Lud was Benjamin Roderick Evans who was 52.  Among the crew there were also three, 17-year-old cadets and apprentices on board.

Built in 1928, the ship was owned by King Line, an operator of merchant ships based in London. Off the 20 ships owned by King Line at the start of the war, 14 were lost during the war.

To be lost off Mozambique must seem so remote from London. The King Lud:

StateLibQld_1_148727_King_Lud_(ship)

Just one ship and crew out of so many recorded across the two memorials.

Trinity Square Gardens is an interesting juxtaposition of two memorials. One to those executed on the site over the centuries, the other to those who died in war, far from London.

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Unilever House, De Keyser’s Royal Hotel and the Drinking Fountain Association

Many of my recent posts have covered sites in London where the view has completely changed, however there are still views in London that have seen very little change over the last 70 years.

In 1948 my father took the following photo from the southern end of Blackfriars Bridge:

IMG00052

I took the following photo 66 years later standing in exactly the same position:

DSC_1603

Very little has changed. The curved building that sits at the north end of the bridge, Unilever House has some cosmetic changes during renovations but is basically the same. Construction of Unilever House was completed in 1933 and since then has been the London head office of Unilever PLC.

Unilever House was built on the site of the De Keyser’s Royal Hotel. This can be seen in the following early photograph that was taken from the opposite side of the bridge to my father’s photo and shows the hotel following the same curved façade to the road as the current building.

blackfriars pc scan

De Keyser’s Royal Hotel was opened on the 5th September 1874 by Sir Polydore de Keyser who came to London as a waiter from Belgium and eventually became Lord Mayor of London.

The hotel was very exclusive and initially every guest had to be introduced personally or by letter before they could secure accommodation.

The hotel had 400 rooms and was taken over by the RAF in 1916 and after the war was acquired by Lever Brothers as their London offices. Lever Brothers became Unilever in 1929 when they merged with the Dutch company Margarine Unie.

Also in the above photo, the building at the end of the bridge on the right is Bridge House, which is still standing, but not in use (more of this later).

The following photo shows the partly constructed Unilever House on the site of De Keyser’s Royal Hotel:

unilever house construction

Note the adverts for Lifebuoy soap on the panels around the base of the construction site, one of Lever’s earliest products.

After taking the new photo to compare the view with my father’s I took a walk across the bridge to the north side. On the north-east side of the bridge, just before reaching the new Blackfriars Station is the now empty Bridge House and tucked in the curve of this building is an old drinking fountain erected by the Metropolitan Free Drinking Fountain Association, which now stands rather forlorn in front of Bridge House which from its current state I suspect will soon be demolished, or hopefully renovated.

DSC_2011

The Metropolitan Free Drinking Fountain Association was formed in 1859. There is an excellent history of the Association on the site of the Drinking Fountains Association which is well worth reading not just for a history of the association but also for description of Victorian London that supported the formation of the Association.

To quote from the Association’s history:

The supply of drinking water generally available to the poorer classes in London was in those days lamentably deficient both in quantity and quality, coming as it did mainly from pumps and surface wells. A report made in 1866 showed how contaminated this water was, and not only was the impurity of the water held to be largely responsible for the outbreaks of cholera in 1848-49 and again in 1853-54 but the heavy consumption of beer and spirits was in great measure also attributed to this cause. It was therefore high time that something was done to provide a readily available supply of pure drinking water in the cause of temperance, as well as of hygiene and it was to meet this need that the Association came into being.

At the inauguration of the association on the 10th April 1859 the objects of the Association were stated in the resolution:

That, where the erection of free drinking fountains, yielding pure cold water, would confer a boon on all classes, and especially the poor, an Association be formed for erecting and promoting the erection of such fountains in the Metropolis, to be styled “The Metropolitan Free Drinking Fountain Association“, and that contributions be received for the purposes of the Association. That no fountain be erected or promoted by the Association which shall not be so constructed as to ensure by filters, or other suitable means, the perfect purity and coldness of the water; and that it is desirable the water-rates should be paid by local bodies, the Association only erecting or contributing to the erection, and maintaining the mechanical appliances, of the fountains.”

The plaque on the bottom of the Blackfriars drinking fountain states that it was erected by the Association in July 1861 by the Chairman Samuel Gurney MP.

DSC_2012

Bridge House with the fountain is shown in the following photo. A telephone box and the fountain, both symbols of earlier ages (with phone boxes I suspect being largely made redundant by mobile phones).

DSC_2010

There is much more to say about Blackfriars Bridge which for this post I have only used to cross from the south to the north banks of the Thames, however it has been a busy week so I will leave this for another post to do the bridge justice.

What I hope this post has highlighted is that in almost every corner and building across London there is a fascinating history to be discovered that provides a tangible link back to the lives of Londoners across the centuries.

The sources I used to research this post are:

  • The Face of London by Harold Clunn published 1932
  • London by George H. Cunningham published 1927
  • Old & New London by Edward Walford published 1878
  • The Drinking Fountain Association

 alondoninheritance.com

 

The Monument, Lower Thames Street and Fish Street Hill

My next location is easy to find. One of the most well known landmarks in the City of London – the Monument to the Great Fire of London in 1666.

The Great Fire has been a theme to some of my earlier posts as it was this event which resulted in the building of the Wren churches that feature as landmarks in many of my father’s photos of a bombed city. The impact it had on the City was such that a monument was needed to commemorate the Great Fire and celebrate the rebuilding of the City.

Out of Monument Underground Station, I walk past the Monument and down to Lower Thames Street to find the location where my father took the following photo.

My father's photo of the Monument from Lower Thames Street

My father’s photo of the Monument from Lower Thames Street

Lower Thames Street is much busier than when the above photo was taken and also much wider. In the above photo, the building on the extreme right with the street name was a Bank. This building was lost as part of the widening of Lower Thames Street into two, dual lane carriageways.

Thames Street (Upper and Lower) marks the waterfront of the ancient City of London and follows the line of the wall that defended the city on the riverside.

The sign on the left advertising “Best Large Mussels” is part of Billingsgate Market, located on the south side of Lower Thames Street.

The building on the right with the curved top to the windows still exists. It is the building covered by scaffolding in my 2014 photo shown below (as with Fore Street, why are the key buildings always under scaffolding?) In my father’s original photo it was the Billingsgate Christian Mission. The name can be seen just above the 1st floor windows in the original photo.

The Monument from Lower Thames Street in 2014

The Monument from Lower Thames Street in 2014

The Monument was built between 1671 and 1677 to commemorate the Great Fire of London. It is 202 feet high, which is the distance between the Monument and the point where the fire started in Pudding Lane.

Plaque commemorating the location of where the fire began

Plaque commemorating the location of where the fire began

The  site in which the Monument stands was formerly the churchyard of St. Margaret’s Church which was destroyed in the fire.

The Monument was often used by people throwing themselves from the top to commit suicide. Incredibly it was not until after the last suicide in 1842 that a cage was built around the top.

 

Possible Parish Boundary Marker

Possible Parish Boundary Marker

 

Walking around the base of the Monument, I found the metal plaque shown in the photo to the left. This is in a very sorry state and from the rubbish around the base is not treated well. I believe that this is a parish boundary marker. It was made by E&S Poynder of London in 1838. The inscription in the middle is St. M.N.F. which is the Parish of St. Margaret New Fish Street.

Fish Street Hill is the road that runs at the back of the Monument. This was the original thoroughfare down to Old London Bridge which was immediately south of Fish Street. The Black Prince had a palace here roughly opposite where the Monument now stands.

With the confidence that there continues to be a cage around the top viewing platform and with a six year old in tow who was sure she could make it, we decided to climb the 311 steps to the top. The Monument is managed by the City of London Corporation and climbing to the top (and getting down again) entitles you to a certificate from the Corporation.

Monument Cert 1Monument Cert 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The view from the top is well worth the climb. I will leave you until next week with a selection of photos from the base and top of the Monument over a very sunny London.

Towards St. Pauls which looks as if is about to be attacked by cranes.

Towards St. Pauls which looks as if is about to be attacked by cranes.

The Shard

The Shard

The continuing skyward march of City buildings

The continuing skyward march of City buildings

 

A change to the opening times requires a wet paint sign!

A change to the opening times requires a wet paint sign!

The base of the Monument

The base of the Monument

 

 

Monument from Monument Street

Monument from Monument Street

 alondoninheritance.com