Category Archives: London History

New River Walk – Alexandra Palace to New River Head

I have finally completed the post covering the last stage of the New River Walk, which covers from Alexandra Palace to New River Head in north Clerkenwell.

At the end of the previous stage, we had reached Bowes Park, where the New River disappeared in a tunnel, and for today’s post, we rejoin the New River where it exits the tunnel, opposite Alexandra Palace station.

This stage of the walk will follow the New River from Alexandra Palace to the east and west reservoirs, just south of the Seven Sisters Road, where it ends as a river. Then, the walk follows a Heritage Walk that follows the original route of the river to New River Head before the river was truncated at the reservoirs.

The map of the final stage, with key locations covered in the post is shown below  (© OpenStreetMap contributors):

New River Walk Alexandra Palace to New River Head

Point S on the map: Alexandra Palace station is at the north west tip of a patch of open, green space, and at the south east corner of this space, the New River exits the tunnel through which it has flowed from Bowes Park:

Alexandra Palace

There is nothing to see of the actual river between Bowes Park and Alexandra Palace, however there are a number of these New River Company pipe markers:

NRC Pipe

Point 1 on the map: Here, a rather over exposed Alexandra Palace can be seen on the high ground in the distance. Hornsey Water Treatment Works are behind the green metal fencing and the New River runs under the footbridge between the fencing:

Hornsey

The route through Hornsey is an example of where the New River has been straightened and does not follow the original early 17th century route.

The following map from 1861 shows the original early 17th century route (dark blue), along with the proposed new straightened route (light blue):

Hornsey

Hornsey Water Treatment Works are to the left, and the New River runs at the bottom of these works, and heads to Hornsey High Street which it crosses, before turning and crossing Middle Lane. It then heads towards the church and crosses the High Street again, heading up to the junction with Tottenham Lane.

Towards the top of the map, the Great Northern Railway runs from left to right, and below the railway can be seen the proposed new route of the New River, which is straight, and cuts of the large loop around Hornsey.

Roughly the same area as the above map, is shown in the following map of the area today, which includes the new route of the river just below the railway, and streets and buildings now covering the original route of the river around Hornsey  (© OpenStreetMap contributors):

Hornsey

There are a number of similar examples on the New River Walk where the route follows where the river has been straightened rather than the original route. It would be an interesting exercise to follow the early 17th century route, however I think I will put that walk on the long list of London walks.

Point 2 on the map: There were very few places on the entire route where it was not possible to follow the New River walk, however one place on this final stretch was also in Hornsey where the path had been closed off as Thames Water are carrying out some repair works on the river:

New River Walk

Following photo is looking along the closed section of the walk. This is another straightened section of the New River:

New River Walk

Point 3 on the map: The New River then runs through a housing estate which was built around the New River. The following map extract shows the river running between terrace housing and under streets. There is no path alongside this section of the river, and walking to where the river crosses each street, then back, would add a considerable distance to the walk, so the Thames Water New River path runs along Wightman Road to the left  (© OpenStreetMap contributors):

Wightman Road

The view looking down one of the streets from Wightman Road, the New River crosses the street half way down:

Wightman Road

In the above photo, the streets is dropping in height towards the point where the river crosses about half way down. This stretch of the New River demonstrates how the river follows the contours of the land, from the source in Ware to New River Head. A considerable distance which needed some careful planning, and is remarkable given the survey technologies available in the early 17th century.

The following map shows land height by colour, with blue being lower land, then increasing in height through green, yellow and red (from the excellent topographic-map.com):

New River height map

I have marked the route of the New River which is following the boundary between the higher land on the left (around Crouch Hill station), and the lower land on the right (south Tottenham and Seven Sisters station).

At one point in the map, an area of higher ground (yellow) juts out, and the New River has been tunneled under this, before emerging and running through the streets to the east of Wightman Road.

Point 4 on the map: After weaving through the streets of terrace housing, the New River emerges into the north east corner of Finsbury Park:

Finsbury Park

Where there is a plaque recording the origins and purpose of the river:

Finsbury Park

The New River stays in just the north east corner of Finsbury Park, before crossing under Green Lanes, and reaching:

Point 5 on the map: where the river runs along a narrow green space between an industrial area to the north, school and housing to the south:

New River

In the height map above, the New River is heading towards the reservoirs and is skirting around some higher land to the south, and this is visible as we walk alongside the river, with a downward slope from right to left requiring the river to be banked on the northern side:

New River

North of the M25, between Cheshunt and Ware, there were a number of points where water was being extracted from boreholes and pumped into the New River. There were no examples of this south of the M25, except for one point along this stretch of the walk where four pipes were pumping water into the river, although it was not clear from where this was being extracted.

New River

There is a brick building visible just to the left of where the water is pouring into the river. This is on Eade Road. It houses infrastructure of some sort, and has a 2003 plaque on the outside, but no indication of its function.

The British Geological Survey borehole map lists a borehole under this building, however it is marked as “Confidential” with no data available.

I assume the water running into the New River is from this borehole, however it is strange as to why the record is confidential.

This section of the walk was incredibly muddy, with some sections rather difficult to pass.

At the end, the path runs up to meet Seven Sisters Road, with an information panel covered in graffiti:

New River Walk

For a short distance, the New River Path has joined with another walking route, the Capital Ring:

Capital Ring

And one final loop through housing, with a rather muddy path:

New River Walk

Point 6 on the map: The New River now reaches the reservoirs, with what must have been a gauge house, some means of regulating or measuring the flow of the river, straddling the New River just before the reservoirs:

New River Walk

The New River was truncated at the reservoirs at Stoke Newington in 1946, and now feeds water into the reservoirs, as well as running to their north, through the Woodberry Wetlands, an area surrounding the reservoirs that is now managed as a wildlife haven:

New River Walk

Between the east and the west reservoirs is a building that was once part of the New River infrastructure and has now been refurbished as the Coal House Café. The area outside the café was full of families, so I will not include a photo online, however at the side of the building is a record of the creation of the reservoirs by the New River Company:

New River Company

Also on the side of the building is a wall tie with the initials of the Metropolitan Water Board, the organisation that took over the running of the New River Company’s assets:

New River Walk

View across the east reservoir:

New River Walk

View across the west reservoir:

New River Walk

And a short walk from the west reservoir, we reach the very end of the remaining route of the New River. The last point in the walk from Ware in Hertfordshire, where the river can be seen above ground. It ends in a rather sad dead end:

End of the New River

Just to the left of the above photo is the wonderful 19th century pumping station built by the New River Company:

Castle pumping station

The Metropolis Water Act of 1852 required that water companies supplying water to London, filter the water prior to distribution, and that any subsequent reservoirs after filtering be covered. The aim was to improve the quality of water and prevent much of the pollution from an industrial city from entering the water supply.

Prior to the act, the New River Company was supplying water directly from the reservoirs, however the act now required filter beds to be constructed, along with infrastructure such as a pumping station, and the building in the above photo was built between 1852 and 1856 by William Chadwell Mylne, the Surveyor for the New River Company.

The building housed steam engines and boilers until 1936 when these were replaced by diesel engines.

By 1971, the pumping station was rather dated and too small, and the design of the building did not support an upgrade, so the Metropolitan Water Board applied for permission to demolish the building.

There was considerable local support to retain the building as it was such a local landmark, resembling an industrial castle alongside Green Lanes.

This campaign resulted in the building being given a Grade II* listing in 1972, however it would continue to stay empty, and under threat.

The Historic England listing record provides a perfect description of the old pumping station, and why it is known as the Castle (Historic England source here):

Large building designed to resemble a mediaeval fortress with keep and bailey. 1854-6 by Chadwell Mylne. Stock brick with stone dressings. Battlements and large stepped buttresses all around. The “keep” is of 2 storeys with a tall basement plinth. 6 windows on main south-west front. At north-east and south-west corners round towers with square bartizans the former with a tall conical roof and both having battlements crow-stepped up towards them. Continuous quasi-entablature, with cable moulding, running right around towers. Taller octagonal chimney tower to east. 8 steps (the top one with bootscraper!) to entrance in forebuilding running along north wall and into “bailey” building, which is lower with segmental arcading and 2 slit windows in each bay. Important picturesque landmark.”

The building was empty until 1994 when it was converted into a climbing centre. The large internal spaces perfectly suited for such a use. If you walk past, it is worthwhile having a quick look inside, as the building is still the Castle Climbing Centre.

Leaving the pumping station, we are now following the heritage section of the New River Walk. This section of the route has not seen the New River as a stream of water for many years, as the river was buried in pipes during the 19th century, and since 1946, New River water has ended at the reservoirs.

Point 7 on the map: Here we turn off from Green Lanes and into Clissold Park.

The park retains a couple of stretches of the New River, however these are for decorative purposes only, and start and end within the park.

There is a bridge across one of these decorative runs of the river, which has the arms and motto of the New River Company on the side. “ET PLUI SUPER UNAM CIVITATEM” or “And I caused it to rain upon one city” indicated by the hand reaching down from a cloud, and showering rain drops on the city below.

Clissold Park

Part of the decorative New River feature running up to Clissold House:

Clissold House

Leaving Clissold Park, and walking along Stoke Newington Church Street, there is another reminder of the New River with the New River Café on the corner with Clissold Crescent:

New River cafe

Walk a short distance along Clissold Crescent, and there is a reminder of the New River:

Clissold Crescent

The plaque reads “The Park Lane bridge was demolished and the road widened June 1881”.

Park Lane was the original name of Clissold Crescent, and the bridge carried Park Lane over the New River.

A version of the Ordnance Survey map from the 1890s shows the Park Lane bridge and the New River, although by this time, the New River should have been carried underground in pipes, and as the plaque reads, the bridge was demolished in 1881 and the road widened, so I suspect the OS map was not updated at this point  (‘Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland“).

Clissold Crescent

In the above map, the New River heads south between houses, and the route has been preserved and now forms a series of allotments running along the old course of the river:

New River Walk

The path between the allotments ends at Green Lanes (again, almost a constant companion on the southern section of the walk). We cross over Green Lanes to reach;

Point 8 on the map: this is Petherton Road where the New River once ran down the centre of the street, and is now a walkway with trees and grass on either side:

Petherton Road

A rather nice ghost sign for Barnes Motors along Petherton Road:

Barnes Motors

At the end of Petherton Road, the green space gives way to a street which still follows the route of the New River, past Canonbury Station and cross over St Paul’s Road into another section of the New River route that has been transformed into a long green space, with a decorative water feature running the length of the space:

New River Walk

Towards the end of this green space is:

Point 9 on the map: where there is a round brick building alongside the original route of the New River:

New River Watch House

The building appears to be a late 18th century watch hut. To protect the New River, the New River Company had a watchman or linesman stationed at points along the route of the river to keep the river clear of debris and also to prevent fishing and swimming in the water, or anything that could pollute the supply.

The brick hut is an example of where such a person would have been stationed to keep watch over the river.

The final stretch of the ornamental water that follows the original route of the New River:

New River Walk

Where the above green space ends, we then walk south along Essex Road, and turn off just before reaching Islington Green, to find Colebrooke Row.

This is another street where the houses were built facing on to the New River, and the space occupied by the river is now a green space running the length of the street.

In the following photo, the houses on the right once looked onto the New River where the grass and trees now run, with the street being on the left:

Charles Lamb's House

The white house on the right in the above photo was occupied by the poet and essayist Charles Lamb in the 1820s. The following print shows the house as it was, with the New River running directly in front of the house:

Charles Lamb's House

I have written a detailed post about Colebrooke Row and Charles Lambs which can be found here.

Leaving Colebrooke Row, we cross over City Road and Goswell Road, and cut through to St John Street. Then down to Owen’s Row (which is on the alignment of the New River, I wrote about Owen’s Row within this post).

Crossing over St John Street into Rosebery Avenue, and this is the view along the old route of the New River, with Sadlers Wells on the right (a post on Sadlers Wells and the New River is here):

Sadlers Wells

At the end of Sadlers Wells, turn right into Arlington Way, then left into Myddelton Passage, where we come to the official end of the New River Walk, at the viewing platform looking over what was New River Head:

New River Head

The route is marked on the ground of the viewing platform:

New River Head

And that completed the New River Walk, over four days / two weekends, from Ware in Hertfordshire to New River Head, Clerkenwell.

It was a fascinating journey, and whilst the route has been straightened at a number of points and does not fully trace the original early 17th century route, it did leave me with considerable admiration for those in the early 17th century who surveyed and built the route, following the contours of the land so it would only fall by roughly 20 feet along the entire route ( 5.5m in total or 5 inches per mile). This enabled the water to flow naturally without the need for any pumping.

You can find my posts covering the first two stages of the walk at the following links:

I have also written about the history of New River Head and London’s Water Industry, which you can find at this link.

In the following panorama from the viewing platform at New River Head, I have labeled some of the key features. On the right are the engine and pump house which will soon become the new Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration, a wonderful new use for these historic buildings.

Panorama of New River Head

David Fletcher creates remarkable 3D photogrammetry captures of heritage sites and has one for the historic buildings at New River Head. Hopefully this will work as I have embedded the model in the post (if you do not see this in the e-mail, click here for the post on the website).

You can walk through the site, both inside and out to see this remarkable, historic site in detail:

And finally, if you have not had enough about the New River, I purchased the following book, the Mercenary River by Nick Higham a few weeks ago.

The Mercenary River

It really is a fascinating history of London’s water supply, including, off course, the New River, and is highly recommended.

alondoninheritance.com

A London Inheritance Walks 2022 – Wapping, Bankside, Barbican and Southbank

Last year was my first year of running a number of guided walks based on the blog.

I really enjoyed talking about some fascinating places in London, and meeting so many readers of the blog.

For 2022, I have two new walks, exploring Wapping, and Bankside to Tower Bridge. I did intend to include a Bermondsey walk, but have run out of time to complete this, hopefully later in the summer.

I am also running a few of my Barbican and Southbank walks.

The walks are based on the blog, and use some of my father’s photos to show viewpoints as they were in the late 1940s.

The four walks are described in detail below, along with links for booking (or just go to my main Eventbrite page here).

I hope you find something of interest, and I plan to add additional dates, so please check again later if you do not find a suitable free date.

Wapping – A Seething Mass of Misery

A London Inheritance Walks

Wapping – A Seething Mass of Misery. So wrote Francis Wey in the 1850s in his book, “A Frenchman Sees the English in the Fifties”.

As London’s docks expanded to the east, Wapping developed to serve the docks and the river, and this expansion resulted in living conditions that would lead to Francis Wey’s description.

Wapping was different to the rest of east London as it developed a nautical subculture, one that existed to serve and exploit sailors arriving on the ships that would moor on the river, and the docks and wharves that lined the river.

This walk will discover the history of Wapping, and will run from near Tower Hill underground station, along Wapping High Street and Wapping Wall, across the old Ratcliff Highway to Shadwell Overground and DLR stations.

We will explore the development of the docks, the ancient gateways between land and river that are the Thames stairs, lost and surviving pubs, the history of the River Police, a sailor’s experience of Wapping, warehouses, crime and punishment, murders and a burial at a crossroads.

We will also meet some of the people who lived, worked and passed through Wapping, such as the Purlmen who worked on the river, and John Morrison, a ship’s boy on a collier, who in 1832 almost froze to death whilst waiting to row his master back to his ship after a night in Wapping’s pubs.

The walk will use some of my father’s photos to show the area post-war, and will look at how Wapping has developed to become the place we see today, and should be considerably more enjoyable than Francis Wey’s description.

The walk is about 2.5 miles and will take between two and a quarter, and two and a half hours.

The following dates for my tour of Wapping are available to book on Eventbrite. Click on any of the dates to go to the site where they can be booked.

Bankside to Pickle Herring Street – History between the Bridges

A London Inheritance Walks

This walk explores the remarkable history of Bankside and Southwark between Blackfriars and Tower Bridges.

Looking at how the river bank along the River Thames has developed, and using my father’s post-war photos to show just how much the area has changed, and what was here when this was a working part of the river.

From the sites of Roman discoveries to recent development of old wharfs and warehouses, the walk will explore pubs, theatres, Thames stairs, lost streets, the impact of electricity generation, fires, alleys, and the people who lived and worked along the river.

The walk will also look at how being opposite the City of London led Bankside and Southwark on a unique path through history.

Lasting around two and a quarter hours, the walk will start near Blackfriars Bridge and end at Tower Bridge.

The following dates for my tour of Bankside are available to book on Eventbrite. Click on any of the dates to go to the site where they can be book.

The Lost Streets of the Barbican

A London Inheritance Walks

On the evening of the 29th December 1940, one of the most devastating raids on London created fires that destroyed much of the area north of St Paul’s Cathedral and between London Wall and Old Street.

The raid destroyed a network of streets that had covered this area of Cripplegate for centuries. Lives, workplaces, homes and buildings were lost. Well-known names such as Shakespeare and Cromwell and their connection with the Barbican and Cripplegate will be discovered, as well as those lost to history such as the woman who sold milk from a half house, and that artisan dining is not a recent invention.

Out of the wartime destruction, a new London Wall emerged, along with the Barbican and Golden Lane estates that would dominate post-war reconstruction. Destruction of buildings would also reveal structures that had been hidden for many years.

On this walk, we will start at London Wall, and walk through the Barbican and Golden Lane estates, discovering the streets, buildings and people that have been lost and what can still be found. We will explore post-war reconstruction, and look at the significant estates that now dominate the area.

Lasting around two hours, by the end of the walk, we will have walked through 2,000 years of this unique area of London, the streets of today, and the streets lost to history.

The following dates for my tour of the Barbican are available to book on Eventbrite. Click on any of the dates to go to the site where they can be book.

The South Bank – Marsh, Industry, Culture and the Festival of Britain

A London Inheritance Walks

This walk will discover the story of the Festival of Britain, the main South Bank site, and how a festival which was meant to deliver a post war “tonic for the nation” created a futuristic view of a united country, and how the people of the country were rooted in the land and seas.

We will also discover the history of the South Bank of the Thames, from Westminster to Blackfriars Bridges, today one of London’s major tourist destinations, and with the Royal Festival Hall and National Theatre, also a significant cultural centre.

Along the South Bank we will discover a story of the tidal river, marsh, a Roman boat, pleasure gardens, industry, housing and crime. The South Bank has been the centre of governance for London, and the area is an example of how wartime plans for the redevelopment of London transformed what was a derelict and neglected place.

Lasting around 2 hours, the walk will start by Waterloo Station and end a short distance from Blackfriars Bridge.

At the end of the walk, we will have covered 2,000 years of history, and walked from a causeway running alongside a tidal marsh, to the South Bank we see today.

The following dates for my tour of the Southbank are available to book on Eventbrite. Click on any of the dates to go to the site where they can be book.

Details covering the location of the meeting point for all walks will be sent in the week prior to the walk.

I look forward to seeing you on a walk.

Normal posts will resume next Sunday.

alondoninheritance.com

Soho Square

Soho Square can be found near the junction of Charing Cross Road and Oxford Street. A busy square, with lots of traffic, parking and occasionally it is used as a film set.

The centre of Soho Square is a large open space, and the square is surrounded by a considerable mix of architectural styles, reflecting the number of times that buildings have been demolished and rebuilt since the square was originally laid out, and the range of individuals. organisations and companies that have made the square their home.

Soho Square is the rectangular green space in the centre of the following map (© OpenStreetMap contributors):

Soho Square

Soho Square was part of London’s northwards expansion and the first houses on the square were originally built around 1670.

The following extract from Rocque’s 1746 map of London shows Soho Square, with Oxford Street to the north, but still much open space further north, which would be developed during the second half of the 18th century.

Soho Square

Soho Square, as well as many of the surrounding streets, was built on open space known as Kemp’s Field or Soho Fields.

The site of the square was leased to a bricklayer by the name of Richard Frith, who started construction of the first houses, with the first leases of these houses dating to the 1670s and 1680s.

The square was originally called King’s Square, presumably after Charles II, who was on the throne during the early years of the square’s construction. It would keep this name until the first decades of the 18th century, when it would gradually become known as Soho Square, with formal recognition of the new name of the square on maps such as Rocque’s in 1746.

Today, only a couple of the original houses remain, although in a much modified state.

Soho Square has seen continual waves of development, and a walk around the square today reveals a large range of building size and architectural type. Some buildings are on the original narrow plot, larger buildings have incorporated several adjoining plots of land.

On a weekday, the square is a hive of activity. There is a considerable amount of traffic through the square, parking along both sides of the road around the square, and on the day of my visit, filming had taken over one side of the square.

The open space in the centre of the square was separate from all this activity, and provided a space to look at the buildings surrounding the square before being blocked by leaf growth on the trees.

The following photo is looking to the east, with the tower block of Centre Point in the background.

Soho Square

The brick tower in the background is part of St Patrick’s Catholic Church. During the first years of the square, there were a number of large houses leading back from the square, one of these was Carlisle House, which was built by the Earl of Carlisle around 1690.

Carlisle House was leased by Father Arthur O’Leary, a Franciscan Friar, who managed to raise sufficient financial support from a number of wealthy Catholic families.

The house was converted so that it could be used as a place of worship, and was consecrated on the 29th of September 1792. It was one of the first Catholic places of worship opened after the Catholic Relief Acts of 1778 and 1791, which removed many of the restrictions placed on the Catholic faith during the reformation.

The current church was built on the site of Carlisle House between 1891 and 1893.

In the centre of the square is a small wooden building:

Soho Square

The wooden building is Grade II listed, and is described by English Heritage as a “Garden arbour/tool shed”. It was built around 1925 for the Charing Cross Electricity Company to provide access to an electricity sub-station below ground. It did not serve this purpose for too long as the underground space would become an air raid shelter during the Second World War.

The electricity substation was not the first utility to be built in Soho Square.

When the first houses in the square were built, there was competition from the water companies that served London to provide water. One of these companies was the New River Company who supplied water from their reservoirs at north Clerkenwell.

Whilst the supply worked to the City, Soho was on higher ground, and this small difference in height between the reservoir and Soho Square, along with the haphazard way in which the water distribution system had grown, resulted in a poor, low pressure supply to the new houses of Soho Square.

Sir Christopher Wren was asked to help with understanding the problems of distributing water to Soho Square and the developing area of the West End, however Wren looked at the whole system and recommended that the problems could only be addressed by effectively replacing the entire system with a new, integrated design.

The New River Company also commissioned John Lowthorp (a clergyman, who was also a member of the Royal Society) to look at the distribution problems,

Lowthorpe established that it was not water supply problems to New River Head (indeed the New River supplied enough water for the whole of London), as with Wren, Lowthorpe identified the distribution network and the organisation of the company.

This would only be fixed over a number of years, one of the short term fixes was the construction of a cistern in Soho Square to store water from the New River Company’s reservoirs for onward distribution.

The north east corner of the square:

Soho Square

The north west corner of the square:

Soho Square

The above two photos show the range of different buildings around the square, and the changes in building height and roof line.

This is very different to when the square was built, as this print from around 1725 shows, with terrace housing lining three sides of the square  (© The Trustees of the British Museum).

Soho Square

The view is looking north, and shows that in the first decades of the 18th century, Soho Square was really on the northern edge of the built city. The name of the square at the top of the print uses the original name of King’s Square, as well as the future name of Soho Square.

The hills in the distance are those of Hampstead and Highgate, and the street running north from the square crosses Tiburn Road.

This would later be renamed Oxford Street, and was named Tiburn Road as it led to the Tiburn or Tyburn tree or gallows at the western end of Oxford Street, at the junction of Oxford Street with Edgware Road and Bayswater Road.

The above map uses the spelling of Tiburn, rather than the more common Tyburn. Rocque also uses the Tiburn spelling for the street and the gallows.

By the time of the above print, the centre of the square had been laid out as formal gardens.

A statue can just be seen in the centre of the above print. I have enlarged this below:

Charles II

The statue is of Charles II, above a fountain with a small surrounding pond.

Old and New London included a description of the statue and fountain:

“In the centre was a fountain with four streams. In the middle of the basin was the statue of Charles II, in armour, on a pedestal, enriched with fruit and flowers; on the four sides of the base were figures representing the four chief rivers of the kingdom—Thames, Severn, Tyne, and Humber; on the south side were figures of an old man and a young virgin, with a stream ascending; on the west lay the figure of a naked virgin (only nets wrapped about her) reposing on a fish, out of whose mouth flowed a stream of water; on the north, an old man recumbent on a coal-bed, and an urn in his hand whence issues a stream of water; on the east rested a very aged man, with water running from a vase, and his right hand laid upon a shell.”

Old and New London also comments that “the statue is now so mutilated and disfigured, and the inscription quite effaced”. There is also a comment that the statue could be the Duke of Monmouth (who we will come to later), rather than Charles II, however the consensus seems to be that it is the king rather than duke.

The statue was removed around the time that Old and New London was published. An article in the Illustrated London News on the 26th February 1938, records what happened to the statue, and its eventual restoration to the square:

“The statue of Charles II, by Caius Gabriel Cibber, the father of Colley Cibber, Poet Laureate, actor and dramatist, has been restored to Soho Square after an absence of sixty-two years. It was placed in the Square, then called King’s Square, during Charles II’s reign and surrounded a fountain bearing the emblematical figures of the Thames, Severn, Tyne and Humber.

In 1876 it was in such a bad condition that it was taken down and removed to Mr Goodall’s residence at Grims Dyke, Harrow Weald. There it was re-erected in the middle of a large pond, where it remained during the subsequent tenure of Sir. W.S. Gilbert. When Lady Gilbert died in 1936 she bequeathed the statue to the Soho Square Gardens Committee, who had it skilfully restored and have placed it on the north side of the Gardens.”

So although Charles II is no longer on his high pedestal, and the fountain and pond have long gone, he is back in Soho Square:

Charles II

There is a small plaque near the northern entrance to the central garden that records an event in recent history.

Two trees can be seen in the following photo, with a small concrete block between them:

Great Storm of 1987

The plaque records that one of the trees (I assume the one on the right) was planted to replace a tree lost during the Great Storm over the night of the 16th to 17th October 1987:

Great Storm of 1987

On the north west side of the square, the French Protestant church glows red and orange in the low sun of an early spring day. The church was built in 1891 on the land released when two of the original houses on the square were demolished.

Soho Square

The following photo shows the rather wonderful, number 3 Soho Square:

Soho Square

The building is very narrow compared to many of the other buildings on the street, and although it is the third building on the site, the width of the building is because it is on the same plot of land as the original house when the square was first built.

The first house was built in 1684, it was rebuilt in 1735, which in turn was demolished for the current building which dates from 1902. The mix of the concave upper floors with the large bay windows on floors one and two, along with subtle decoration make number 3 one of the more interesting of the 20th century buildings on Soho Square.

To the right of number 3, is a single building that now occupies the space of numbers 4 to 6, the corner brick building shown in the following photo:

Soho Bazaar

The building was originally constructed as a warehouse in 1804 by John Trotter, a contractor for army supplies.

With the end of the Napoleonic Wars, just eleven years after the warehouse was completed, John Trotter converted the warehouse into the Soho Bazaar.

The Soho Bazaar was a market place for a wide range of goods, and the bazaar would last for much of the 19th century. A newspaper report from the later years of the bazaar provides a good description of what could be found inside, and also why the bazaar was under pressure from the shops opening on nearby Oxford Street, and across the city. Published on the 17th of October, 1885:

“It is a long time since I walked round the Soho Bazaar, for the pretty stalls there have been greatly superseded by the many fancy shops that are now everywhere in London. but the old place, though somewhat changed in character, is the depot for many specialties which of themselves would not pay if a whole shop had to be hired for their sale.

All sorts and kinds of fancy work, of contrivances for the comfort of invalids, and such like inventions are to be seen, and, moreover, there is a large register office for domestic servants and convenience for interviews with them, in connection with the bazaar, and one great recommendation of it to me is that all the stall holders are women, not flighty girls, and they are attentive and pleasant to inquirers or purchasers of their own sex, and not on the look out for a possible flirtation, which is the great drawback to most bazaars.

I went there the other day to see myself the ladies work stall, and its appearance is most encouraging, for the work I saw was well executed, attractive, and useful. Every lady who desires to sell her work there is expected to pay a fee of a guinea a year for expenses.”

The stalls in the bazaar seem to have sold all manner of homemade products, and there was also a kindergarten, where babies were given special rugs to play / crawl on. The rugs had cutout animals and other figures to attract attention.

The following print shows the Soho Bazaar in 1819, soon after opening  (© The Trustees of the British Museum):

Soho Bazaar

Compare the above print with my 2022 photo of the building, and although the ground floor has been significantly remodeled, the upper floors are the same, after 200 years.

On the south side of the square is the Hospital for Women, which combined / rebuilt houses already on the site:

Soho Square

At the very top of the left building of the hospital, is the date “Founded 1842”. This refers to when the hospital was originally founded in Red Lion Square as the Hospital for the Diseases of Women, before moving to Soho Square in 1852.

Records in the National Archives state that “The Hospital was closed in 1939 on the outbreak of war, and a First Aid Post was opened in the Outpatients Department by Westminster City Council”, and that in 1948, the hospital “was amalgamated with St. Mary’s Hospital and The Hospital for Women became part of The Middlesex Hospital Group”.

The first building on the site of the Hospital for Women, was one of the earliest buildings to face onto Soho Square.

Monmouth House was built for the Duke of Monmouth, however he seems to have spent very little time there.

After Charles II’s death, Monmouth led a rebellion with the aim of taking the throne. He was defeated at the Battle of Sedgemoor on the 6th of July 1685. After capture, Monmouth was executed on Tower Hill on the 15th of July 1685.

Monmouth House  (© The Trustees of the British Museum):

Monmouth House

The house was sold after Monmouth’s death, converted to auction rooms in 1717, and demolished in 1773.

The house on the south east corner of Soho Square, at the junction with Greek Street, is the House of Charity / House of St Barnabas.

On the day of my visit, it was being used as a film set:

House of St Barnabas

Despite appearances, the building is not one of the original houses on the square. The house we see today was completed in 1747 after the original house on the site was demolished.

The building was used by one of the organisations that would eventually become the GLC. In 1811, the Westminster Commissioners of Sewers occupied the building, then the Metropolitan Board of Works who stayed on Soho Square until their move to Spring Gardens, before moving to County Hall on the South Bank as the London County Council.

When the Metropolitan Board of Works moved out, it was sold to the House of Charity, which had been established in 1846 for the relief of the destitute and the homeless poor in London.

Now the House of St Barnabas, which works to get people into secure, paid employment, through training and support. The interior of the building still has many of the original features, and is why the building is attractive as a film set.

To the west of the square, Sutton Row provides a route to Charing Cross Road, and St Patrick’s Catholic Church is on the right:

Sutton Row

On the left is Grade II listed, number 21 Soho Square, an 1838 / 1840 rebuild of the original house on the site, which, during the late 18th century had, as Old and New London tactfully described, been a “place of fashionable dissipation to which only the titled and wealthy classes had the privilege of admission”, basically a high-class brothel.

After being rebuilt, the building was taken on by Crosse & Blackwell, and numerous 19th century adverts give Soho Square as the address for Crosse & Blackwell – manufacturers of Pickles, Sauces & Jams etc.

There are three interesting buildings in the north-east corner of Soho Square. The building on the right in the photo below is one of the original houses on the square. Although considerably modified, it does give an indication on what the terrace houses would have looked like as the square was completed.

Mary Seacole

The centre house has a blue plaque, recording that Mary Seacole lived in the house:

Mary Seacole

Mary Seacole was a Jamaican nurse who learnt many of the local techniques for practicing medicine. She traveled widely, and was involved with the treatment of people suffering from cholera outbreaks in Jamaica and Panama.

In 1853 she was responsible for nursing services for the British Army in Jamaica, however she had heard about the suffering of soldiers in the Crimean War, and asked that she be sent to the Crimea to work as an army nurse.

This request was not approved, so she funded her own trip to Crimea where she set up the “British Hotel” to provide a place of rest and treatment for injured and sick soldiers. This was the same war where Florence Nightingale was also working, but Mary’s British Hotel was closer to the front.

After the end of the Crimean War she returned to Britain, however she had very little money left, having funded the trip to the Crimea, and in 1856 she was declared bankrupt, as the Globe on the 7th November 1856 reported:

“The bankrupts, Mrs Mary Seacole and Thomas Day the younger, are described as of Tavistock-street, Covent-garden, and Ratcliff-terrace, provision merchants, and formerly of Balaklava and Spring Hill, front of Sebastopol. Mrs. Seacole is a lady of colour, and has been honoured with four government medals for her kindness to British soldiery. She was present in person, and attracted much attention, the gaily coloured decorations on her breast being in perfect harmony with the rest of her attire.”

Whilst in London, she wrote and published her biography, and a review sums up how she was viewed:

“The Wonderful Adventures of Mrs Seacole in Many Lands has just been published by Mr James Blackwood of Paternoster Row. Of Mrs Seacole, Dr. Russell says in a brief preface ‘If singleness of heart, true charity and Christian works; if trials and sufferings, dangers and perils, encountered boldly by a helpless woman on her errand of mercy in the camp and battlefield, can excite sympathy and move curiosity, Mary Seacole will have many friends and many readers’. Mrs Seacole’s autobiography is interesting, includes many strange episodes, and, we doubt not, will obtain numerous readers.

Proceeds from the book, along with a fund raised by the Prince of Wales provided Mary with sufficient funding to live in comfort for the rest of her life. She died in London in 1881, and newspaper announcements of her death started with the headline “DEATH OF A DISTINQUISHED NURSE”.

Over the following decades, her name disappeared, with Florence Nightingale being more associated with the Crimean War.

A group of nurses from the Caribbean visited Mary’s grave at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Cemetery in Kensal Green, and started to campaign for greater recognition for her. This was supported by the local MP to Kensal Green and in 2016, a statue was unveiled in the grounds of St Thomas’ Hospital on the south bank of the Thames just to the west of Westminster Bridge.

Mary Seacole

The large disk behind the statue of Mary is an impression taken from the ground in the Crimea where Mary Seacole worked to help soldiers during the Crimean War.

I cannot find out exactly when Mary Seacole lived in Soho Square. Newspaper reports of her life after she returned from the war mention a number of different addresses in London so she seems to have moved around.

Very little of the original Soho Square remains, the statue of Charles II, and a couple of the houses, although all have been repaired and modified, but the square does show how London streets have changed and adapted to different uses over hundreds of years, and how much there is to find in a London square.

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An Accountant, Hall, Church and Shakespeare – City of London Blue Plaques

A couple of months ago, I wrote the first post of a series in which I hope I will track down the roughly 170 City of London plaques. The plaques tell a small part of the City’s long history, however due to the limited size of the plaque, they often just provide a name, leaving the viewer to wonder what is actually being commemorated.

For today’s post, I take a look at another five, some of which have plenty of information, others need some digging.

City of London plaques record the churches, Guild and Livery Company Halls, infrastructure, key events and people that have contributed to the City’s history. The majority of people are men, there are very few plaques to women, so to start this week’s wander through the City of London, let me start with:

Mary Harris Smith FCA – The Worlds First Female Chartered Accountant

Walk north along Queen Victoria Street, and just before the junction with Poultry and the Bank, you will find number 1 Queen Victoria Street. Walk to the right of this building, along Bucklersbury, and on the side you will see one of the most recent of the City of London plaques. Arrowed in the following photo, as in the shade on a bright day:

City of London Plaques

This plaque is less than two years old, and was installed on the building in September 2020. It records Mary Harris Smith, the world’s first female Chartered Accountant:

City of London Plaques

The story of Mary Harris Smith is the story of many women who were struggling to gain recognition in male dominated professions.

Mary Harris Smith had been an accountant for many years, firstly working for a City firm before setting up her own practice in Queen Victoria Street in 1887.

Despite working as an accountant, she was repeatedly refused admission to the accountants professional body, the Institute of Chartered Accountants, either through the route of recognition of her years of work, or through taking the exams set by the Institute.

Whilst there was some support for her admission, the Institute’s solicitor advised the applications committee that the charter only used the male terms of he, him etc. to refer to members, and there was no support to change the charter.

Mary Harris Smith’s persistence eventually worked. She had been seeking the support of other City professionals, members of the Institute and MPs, and in 1919 she was finally admitted to her first professional body, the Incorporated Society of Accountants and Auditors.

The Journal and Express on the 6th of December 1919 recorded the event:

“AFTER 31 YEARS – At a recent meeting of the Council of the Incorporated Society of Accountants and Auditors it was resolved to admit Miss Mary Harris Smith to the Honorary Membership of the Society. Miss Harris Smith has been in public practice in the City of London since the date of the Society’s incorporation and first made application for admission to membership in the year 1886. After 31 years of waiting Miss Harris Smith has seen removed the last obstacle to the admission of women to the Society, and we think there will be general agreement in the profession with the compliment the Council have paid Miss Harris Smith by electing her to Honorary membership”.

Although now a member, the above article refers to her admission as being the “compliment the Council have paid Miss Harris Smith” rather then her right to membership through her ability and years of experience.

A year later, in 1920, she was admitted to the Institute of Chartered Accountants – the event which is commemorated on the plaque.

The Vote newspaper, (subtitled the Organ of the Women’s Freedom League) had been running a series of articles on women in the professions and on the 8th of February 1924 included an article on Women Accountants which featured Mary Harris Smith, who had been elected as a Fellow.

The article also mentions Ethel Watts, who was the first women to pass the Institute of Chartered Accountants exams and gain the ACA qualification:

“The Institute of Chartered Accountants has at present two women members. One of these, Miss Harris Smith, admitted a Fellow of the Institute in May, 1920, was the first woman accountant in public practice before the examination system was started, and has been engaged on highly skilled work for over 30 years.

The other, Miss Ethel Watts, B.A. passed her final examination early this year, and is the first woman to write ‘A.C.A.’ after her name. She served her articles with a Manchester firm, but took her Honours degree at London University. During the war, she became an administrative assistant at the Ministry of Food, and was at one time the private secretary to the Director of Oils and Fats in the Ministry.

She had intended to study law, but her work at the Ministry gave her an interest in business, so she turned to accountancy. In addition to these members, there are 30 women training under articles.”

No idea if there is a plaque to Ethel Watts in Manchester. If not, there should be.

Mary Harris Smith had waited a long time for professional recognition, she was 76 when finally becoming a member. Ill heath forced her to give up work in the late 1920s and she died in 1934.

Mary Harris Smith photographed around the time of her membership of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in 1920:

Mary Harris Smith

I can think of only two or three City of London plaques to women, and Mary Harris Smith is a very recent addition – hopefully the first of many more to come.

The next plaque is to one of the many men commemorated across the City:

William Shakespeare and the Mountjoy Family.

If you start at the roundabout with the Museum of London in the Centre, and walk a short distance along London Wall, you will come to a small garden which is the site of the church of St Olave, a church that was destroyed in 1666 by the Great Fire.

On one of the low walls in the seating area, there is another of the City of London plaques, highlighted by the arrow:

City of London Plaques

The plaque records that “William Shakespeare had lodgings near here in 1604, at the house of Christopher and Mary Mountjoy“:

City of London Plaques

The discovery that William Shakespeare lived for a time at or near London Wall was made in the first decade of the 20th century. A Dr. Charles William Wallace who was Associate Professor of English Language and Literature at the University of Nebraska, had, along with his wife, spent their holidays in records offices searching for references to Shakespeare.

They found one set of documents from a legal case dating from May and June 1612, where Shakespeare had been a witness, and the documents included a very rare signature of Shakespeare.

The Illustrated London News on the 16th of February 1910 carried an article on the discovery, which included the core of the legal case:

“Christopher Montjoy or Mountjoy, a Huguenot refugee, living in Silver Street, with a wife and only child, Mary, carried on there the business of a tiremaker. The occupation would seem to have combined the making of Ladies head-dresses with the work of milliner.

In 1598 Mountjoy took as apprentice one Stephen Bellott, whose mother, a woman of Huguenot family, had married as a second husband an Englishman named Humphrey Fludd. Young Stephen Bellott proved an apt workman, and was much liked by his master and his master’s family.

The daughter, Mary Mountjoy, was attracted by her father’s apprentice, and her parents approved a marriage between the couple. But Stephen Bellott was no ardent wooer, and some pressure had to be brought to bear on him to ‘effect’ a match.

According to the evidence, ‘one Mr. Shakespeare laye in the house’ of the Mountjoy’s when their daughter’s engagement was under discussion. The statement suggests that Shakespeare lodged at the time with the Mountjoy’s, or, at any rate, that he was then staying there. Both parents appealed to Mr. Shakespeare to use his persuasions with the young man.

According to Shakespeare’s evidence, Mrs Mountjoy ‘did sollicitt and entreat’ him ‘to move and perswade’ Stephen Bellott to marry her daughter, and ‘ accordingly he did move and perswade’ him thereunto.

The young man regarded the proposal in a sternly practical light. He asserts that he yielded on specific conditions, namely that the young lady should receive from her father the sum of fifty pounds on her marriage, and the sum of two hundred pounds on her father’s death, together with ‘certaine house-hold stuff’ of substantial value.”

The marriage of Mary and Stephen took place on the 19th of November 1604 in St Olave’s, Silver Street, the site of the plaque.

Mrs Mountjoy died in 1606, and the relationship between Stephen Bellott and his father-in-law became very strained. He claimed that the “household stuff” that Mountjoy had given his daughter was old and worthless, and Mountjoy then denied he had ever made the promises to Bellott.

Bellott then took the case to court, trying to compel his father-in-law to comply with the terms of the alleged contract, and it was because of this that Shakespeare was a witness for the plaintiff.

In his signed deposition, Shakespeare stated that he had known both Mountjoy and Bellott for ten years, that Bellott did “well and honestly behave himself”, and that Mountjoy had promised a “marriage-portion” with his daughter, but he could not remember the amount.

The documents found by Dr. Wallace in the National Archives do not record the outcome of the case, and it seems to have been refered to another authority for judgement.

Dr. Wallace assumed that Shakespeare had lived with the Mountjoy’s from 1598 to 1604, which was the period of Bellott’s apprenticeship, although there is no evidence to confirm this. Dr. Wallace also made a number of claims, including that Shakespeare used the name Mountjoy as the French herald in Henry V from the name of the family he had been living with. Again, there is no evidence to confirm this.

Mountjoy’s house was on the corner of Silver Street and Monkwell Street – two streets that disappeared during the rebuilding of the area following the bombing of the last war. The following map is from Roque’s 1746 map of London, and I have marked the location of the house with a red circle. Just below the red circle is St Olave’s cemetery, the site of the garden we can see today.

Mountjoy House

The location today of Mountjoy’s house is just slightly north of the location of the plaque, and is probably under the current route of the dual carriageway of London Wall.

A pub, the Coopers Arms was later built on the site of the house and in 1931 it was reported that the Coopers Arms had an old inscription commemorating Shakespeare’s stay.

The Coopers Arms – Silver Street to the right, Monkwell Street disappearing to the left. Strange to think that London Wall now runs through this scene.

Coopers Arms

Two plaques covering people who have lived or worked in the City. Now for one of the staple of City of London plaques – one of the City’s Guilds or Companies.

Curriers’ Hall

Not far from the Shakespear / Mountjoy plaque is one to mark the site of Curriers’ Hall. Walk a short distance east along London Wall, up Wood Street, and a short distance along is a pedestrianised walkway to the east, which has some remnants of the City Wall alongside.

Opposite the wall is the goods entrance to one of the new buildings that cover the area, and to the right of the entrance is a City plaque:

City of London Plaques

The plaque marks the nearby sites of Curriers’ Hall between 1583 and 1940:

City of London Plaques

A Currier was a leather worker. Currying leather was the process by which tanned skins were stretched and shaved into a fine finish to produce leather which was suitable for the production of leather goods, such as shoes.

The coat of arms of the Curriers’ shows arms rising at the top, with hands holding the tool of the Currier, the shaving knife which was scrapped across a skin, gradually reducing the thickness and producing a smooth finish to the material. The tool is also shown on the shield.

Curriers Company

Curriers were originally part of the Cordwainers’ Guild, but an ordnance of 1272 brought about the separation of the professions by requiring that they should have separate working regulations.

Full self governance by the Curriers was achieved through a 1415 ordinance, with an extension of their powers through an Act of 1516, and the grant of a Charter on the 30th of April 1606.

The grant of a Charter was rather late, and was given “by prescription” where a company that had existed for a long time was assumed to have been granted a charter, but which had been lost.

The walkway shown in my photo of the plaque’s location was the original route of the street London Wall (see my post on the history of London Wall).

The location of the plaque is roughly where an entrance to a courtyard in front of the Curriers Hall would have been located.

The same extract from Roque’s 1746 map that I used for the Mountjoy’s house, also shows the location of the Curriers’ Hall, which I have ringed in the map below:

Curriers Hall

Halls of the City companies were often built back from the street, accessed via an alley from the street, into a courtyard with the hall. I assume this approach separated the hall from the busy street (see also my post on Monkwell Street and Barber Surgeons Hall).

The following print from the mid 1850s shows the alley leading from London Wall to Curriers’ Hall. I assume that the coat of arms of the Company are above the entrance (© The Trustees of the British Museum):

Curriers Hall

The last version of Curriers Hall was destroyed during the heavy bombing and fires that the area suffered in December 1940.

The Worshipful Company of Curriers still exist today. They do not have a hall, and use the halls of other City companies for their ceremonial events. As with other City companies, they do not have regulatory powers, and today support charitable activities in trades still involved in working leather, or where leather products are used, such as horse riding.

Another City Guild or Company that produced products that would have been used along with those of the Curriers is the:

Loriners’ Trade

Walk along Poultry, towards the Bank junction, and on the right is 1 Poultry. There is an access under the building just before reaching the Bank junction, called Bucklesbury Passage. Underneath the name sign for the passage is a plaque:

City of London Plaques

Stating “Site of the Loriners’ Trade 11th – 13th Centuries”:

City of London Plaques

I love the City of London plaques, however they are also rather frustrating. A casual passerby would have no idea what Loriners’ Trade means.

The Loriners were an old City Guild or Mistery, and were granted ordinances in 1260 / 1261 along with their rules of self government.

A Loriner is an example of how specific many of these skilled trades were, as a Loriner was a maker of bridle bits and other examples of metal work used for horses. The Loriner was also a maker of spurs, however spurs became a separate company before joining the Company of Blacksmiths in 1571.

The arms of the Loriners Company show three horse’s bits, along with three black metal bosses:

Loriners Company

The plaque in Bucklesbury is unusual in that it is recording where the trade was carried out, rather than the location of a hall.

The Loriners’ did have a hall, which remained until the mid 19th century. The hall was located on London Wall, opposite Basinghall Street (not sure if there is a City plaque at the location of the hall – I need to check). Rocque’s map again is useful in confirming the location of the hall, as shown circled in the following extract:

Loriners Hall

By the end of the 19th century, the Loriners’ Company had very little involvement with any aspects of the old profession, and it was more a club for social and dining activities. This was common with many other City companies, as this article from the Evening News on the 21st of January 1914 implies:

“They endure, these old guilds, because of the dinner. The Loriners who have very little knowledge of the loriners’s trade. Gold and Wire Drawers who might essay in that delicate little job of drawing gold and silver wires. I know a Citizen and Fishmonger whose lore is not enough to help him in choosing a middle cut of salmon at the stores. Nevertheless, these Loriners and Fishmongers and Wire drawers still flourish, branch and root, dining as their ancestors dined.”

The Worshipful Company of Loriners is still in existence, and still dining, using some of the other City Company halls for their events, but is also involved in a wide range of charitable and educational activities.

My final location in this ramble through a number of the City of London’s plaques is not far away from the Loriners.

Walk through number 1 Poultry to Queen Victoria Street and walk up to the Mansion House, where on the Walbrook corner of the building is a plaque recording the location of:

St Mary Woolchurch Haw

Tucked away on the corner of the Mansion House is a plaque, arrowed in the following photo:

City of London Plaques

Which records that the plaque marks the site of St Mary Woolchurch Haw:

City of London Plaques

St Mary Woolchurch Haw was one of the City’s churches that was destroyed during the 1666 Great Fire, and not rebuilt. It is remarkable how many churches were in the City before 1666. Many were not rebuilt. A further wave were lost during the late 19th century rebuild of much of the City, and a number were lost and not rebuilt during and after the last war, yet still whenever on a City street we are not far from a church.

The name of St Mary is interesting, but the plaque gives no further information. The dedication is to Mary Woolchurch a name which implies that the church was near to, or had some involvement with wool, but what does Haw mean?

To find out, I referred to the book I use most for learning about pre-1666 City churches – “London Churches Before The Great Fire”, by Wilberforce Jenkinson and published in 1917.

The section on St Mary Woolchurch Haw includes the following:

“St Mary Woolchurch formerly stood near the Stocks Market, which was on the site of the present Mansion House. Stow writes that it was so called ‘of a beam placed in the church yard, which was therefore called Wool Church Haw, of the Troanage, or weighing of Wool there used’

The church was built by Hubert de Ria in the time of William the Conqueror. The first rector whose name is recorded being William de Hynelond, 1349-50. The patronage was partly with the Crown and partly with the Convent of St John the Baptist, Colchester. The church was rebuilt in the 20th year of Henry VI.

John Tireman, rector in 1641, at the commencement of the Civil War was compelled to retire in consequence of his loyalty. john Bull was preacher during the Protectorate, and was afterwards Master of the Temple. The church was not rebuilt after the Fire, but the parish was annexed to that of St Mary Woolnoth”.

So a Haw was a form of beam which was used in the weighing of wool. The Victoria and Albert Museum have a Wool Weight which would have been used with a Haw (Source Link).

St Mary Woolchurch

The wool weight in the above photo dates from between 1550 and 1600. As can be seen in the photo, the weight has a hole at the top, and through this would have been threaded a leather strap which allowed the weight to be hung on one end of a beam or Haw.

Weights were typically of 7, 14 and 28lbs. The one in the photo is 14lbs.

The beam was pivoted in the middle, with wool suspended at one end, and weights added to the other end of the beam. When the beam balanced, the weight of the wool could be read from the number and weights of the weights used.

The extract from the book mentions that “St Mary Woolchurch formerly stood near the Stocks Market“.

The Stocks Market dates from the 13th century with a charter issued by Edward I. The market was named after the only set of fixed stocks in the City which were used for punishments, such as when William Sperlynge was pilloried in the stocks for trying to sell rotten meat, which was burnt under his nose whilst he was held in the stocks.

The market gradually specialised and by the 15th century it was known as a meat and fish market.

The market was destroyed during the Great Fire of 1666, along with the church of St Mary Woolchurch Haw.

Although the church was not rebuilt, the market was, and expanded to included the land once occupied by the church. It became a general market, which as well as meat and fish, included fruit and vegetables and was one of the major markets of the City.

The following print from 1753 shows the market in operation (© The Trustees of the British Museum):

Stocks Market

The church in the background of the above print with the dome and tower is St Stephen Walbrook. The large statue at the front of the Stocks Market is of Charles II, but it has a very interesting history.

The statue originally came from Italy and was an unfinished work showing the King of Poland, John Sobieski on his horse which was trampling on a Turk,

The statue had been brought to London by Sir Robert Vyner who was Lord Mayor of the City in 1675.

A Polish king would make no sense in a City market, and Robert Vyner had the head of the statue replaced with one of Charles II, and the head of the Turk was replaced by one of Oliver Cromwell (or possibly the original head was reworked).

The following side view of the statue gives a better idea of the modified statue. The rider does look like Charles II, however I am not sure whether the person underneath the horse looks like Oliver Cromwell, but this was probably not important. The statue was meant to show the triumph of the Monarchy over the Commonwealth created by the Civil War (© The Trustees of the British Museum).

Charles II

When the statue was removed, it was given to a descendant of Sir Robert Vyner who apparently relocated it from the City to a family estate in Lincolnshire, from where it was later moved to Newby Hall in North Yorkshire, where the statue that was originally on the site of the Stocks Market, and what is now the Mansion House, can still be seen today:

Charles II

Image credit / attribution: Chris Heaton / Statue at Newby Hall / CC BY-SA 2.0

When the Mansion House was built in 1739 on the site of the Stocks Market, a stone believed to have come from the church was found in the new foundations (© The Trustees of the British Museum):

St Mary Woolchurch

That is five more City of London plaques. They are fascinating as each one, although brief, opens up a whole volume of the City’s long history.

I also find it interesting how bits of London can be found scattered across the country. I have found numerous examples of these, with the statue of Charles II being the latest.

Now that Mary Harris Smith has a recent plaque, I hope that many more of the women who have been a part of the City’s history will also be getting their own plaques in the years to come.

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Prestons Road – Welcome to the Isle of Dogs

In 1986, my father photographed some graffiti on a wall in Prestons Road which runs from Poplar to the Isle of Dogs.

Prestons Road

The 1980s were a traumatic time for the residents of the Isle of Dogs. The docks had closed and the developments that would lead to the office complex around Canary Wharf, as well as many new housing developments, were underway.

Much of this new development would not directly benefit local residents. Thousands of office jobs for those living outside of the Isle of Dogs, and new homes being built which were typically much more expensive than traditional homes in the area. Very little of the money being poured into new developments would find its way to the original residents.

The graffiti on the wall in Prestons Road reflects some of the anger and frustration felt as a result of the developments. Barratts the builders are mentioned on the right of the wall, along with Asda.

Whilst the build of a new Asda store could have been seen as a positive for residents, in reality it was one of the many cultural changes imposed, where centralised shopping would badly impact the trade of multiple small, often family owned shops.

The graffiti was on a wall in Prestons Road. This road runs from a junction with Poplar High Street down to the so called Blue Bridge, which crosses the east entrance to West India South Dock from the Thames.

I have marked the two end points of Prestons Road in the following map. The road runs between these two points  (© OpenStreetMap contributors):

Prestons Road

My father took the photo at the top of the post, and did not leave a record of the location. I do vaguely remember walking past the wall in the mid-1980s and that it was somewhere near the Poplar High Street end of Prestons Road, somewhere around the location highlighted by the red oval on the following map  (© OpenStreetMap contributors):

Prestons Road

I think I found the location when I went for a walk along Prestons Road, and I will explain later in the post, however before walking the road, some background to a road that has changed significantly in the last decades.

The most significant change to Prestons Road is in the northern part, up to the junction with Poplar High Street. Between the northern and southern sections of the road, it has been divided by a large roundabout and the dual carriageways of the A1261, or the Aspen Way, which is carried over the roundabout, as can be seen in the above map.

The A1261 provides a route between the A13 at the start of the East India Dock Road in the west, through to the Lower Lea Crossing in the east.

Construction of this road had significant impact on the area, and in some ways, reinforced the division between the Isle of Dogs and the rest of Poplar. The A1261 was built as part of the transformation of transport infrastructure surrounding development of the Docklands, which included other major projects such as the Limehouse Link Tunnel.

To illustrate the impact of this road, and the roundabout, the following map is from the 1950 edition of the Ordnance Survey, which covers roughly the same area as in the above map. The location of the roundabout is shown by the red circle (‘Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland“):

Prestons Road

By comparing the two maps, it can be seen that the northern part of Prestons Road, up to Poplar High Street has changed to enable the entry and exit carriageways to the roundabout. Where Prestons Road once had a straight section down from Poplar High Street, it is now more angled to accommodate the roundabout. This will be relevant when searching for the location of the graffiti.

Taking a wider view of the area, we can see the Aspen Way running left to right at the very north of the Isle of Dogs. Just to the south, Billingsgate Market, and the office blocks around North Quay and the northern section of Canary Wharf reinforce the boundary created by the Aspen Way, leaving two main routes to the Isle of Dogs on the east and west of the peninsula – the eastern route being Prestons Road  (© OpenStreetMap contributors).

Map of the Isle of Dogs

This boundary between the Isle of Dogs and Poplar has been long in the making. The following extract from Smith’s New Plan of London, dated 1816, shows that the construction of the West India Docks had created a barrier across the centre, leaving only the two roads either side of the peninsula:

Prestons Road

In the above map, I have circled the location of Prestons Road, and whilst the southern section across the dock entrances was in place, the northern section had not been built. Instead, a turn to the right entered Brunswick Street.

I believe that the northern section of Prestons Road was built at the same time as the Poplar Docks which were located on the left of the section of the street just to the south of the roundabout.

We must go back to the 18th century, to see the area before any of the docks were built to understand how the docks, and then Canary Wharf and the Aspen Way have created an apparent northern boundary to the Isle of Dogs.

In the following map from 1703, we can see that the whole area was part of Poplar, with Poplar High Street already lined with buildings. To follow on from last week’s post, I have also circled a reference to Penny Fields to the left.

Map of the Isle of Dogs

Brunswick Street is to the right, however rather than just east and west routes, up until the construction of the docks, there were to roads running down from Poplar High Street, including the central road which ran down to the ferry across the Thames to Greenwich, at the southern tip of the peninsula.

So today, when crossing under the Aspen Way, it feels like a boundary has been crossed, and we are entering the Isle of Dogs. Time to take a walk along Prestons Road:

Prestons Road

The above photo was taken at the junction of Prestons Road with Poplar High Street.

For this post, I am using the spelling of the street as seen on the street name signs in 1986 and today. Many references to the street also refer to Preston’s, however to stay with the name signs, I will leave out the apostrophe.

The following photo is looking south from the junction in the above photo. The upper part of Prestons Road was angled slightly to the left when the roundabout was built. If I remember rightly, the wall with the graffiti was somewhere along the right side of the street.

Prestons Road

A short distance down the street is a turn off to the right with Poplar Business Park at the end:

Poplar Business Park

In the background of the 1986 photo, the frame of a building under construction can be seen. The majority of buildings to the south of Poplar High Street are relatively recent, and do not date back to the 1980s, however I wondered if the Poplar Business Park could be the building which was under construction when my father took the photo.

It is certainly in the right place, if my memory is correct that the wall was around here.

I looked for references to the Poplar Business Park to try and date the building, and found an advert from 1988 for “Moat Security Doors, Poplar Business Park, Prestons Road, Isle of Dogs, E14”, who sold iron gates to add security in front of a door, or as they advertised “Never be afraid to open your front door again”.

So the Poplar Business Park was in operation in 1988, so possibly safe to assume it was the building photographed under construction two years earlier. Interesting that whilst in the Poplar Business Park, they used Isle of Dogs in the address, despite being at the northern end of Prestons Road, very close to Poplar High Street.

If I am correct, the wall would have been to the left of the above photo, or perhaps to the left of the photo below which is looking up Prestons Road, with the side road to the Poplar Business Park being the street where the grey car is about to exit:

Prestons Road

A very short distance to the south is where Prestons Road crosses under the A1261, the Aspen Way, a very significant set of new road infrastructure:

Prestons Road

From the south, looking north, and the slip road to the east, up to the Aspen Way towards the City of London and one of the new road access points to Canary Wharf:

Prestons Road

From the edge of the roundabout we can see some of the new residential towers that are becoming so common across this part of east London:

Prestons Road

A full view of the routes that can be accessed via the roundabout that obliterated part of Prestons Road:

Prestons Road

This is the view looking south along Prestons Road into the Isle of Dogs. I do not live there, so I am not really one to judge, but when walking the area, it is only along here that I feel I am entering the Isle of Dogs:

Prestons Road

In the above photo, there is a tall brick wall, in shadow, on the right. This is the wall between the street and Poplar Docks, the construction of which I believe, resulted in the construction of this section of Prestons Road, as a road would have been needed along the boundary to serve entrances to the docks.

The following photo is of Poplar Dock today, looking west with two cranes remaining from when the dock was operational:

Poplar Dock

The site is now Poplar Dock Marina and is full with narrow boats and an assorted range of other smaller craft. Poplar Dock opened in 1851, however the site had originally been used from 1827 as a reservoir to balance water levels in the main West India Dock just to the west. In the 1840s the area was used as a timber pond before conversion to a dock.

Poplar Docks served a specific purpose, being known as a railway dock as the docks were almost fully ringed by railway tracks and depots of the railway companies.

Walking south along the street, and the area between the street and the river is full of new buildings, however there is a rather strange, flying saucer shaped building to be seen:

Blackwall Tunnel

The building is one of the air vents and access points to the Blackwall Tunnel, which runs parallel (but deeper) to the northern section of Prestons Road.

Looking north towards the roundabout, and we can see the tall brick wall that once separated Poplar Dock from Prestons Road:

Prestons Road

We now come to one of the crossings over the channels from the docks to the Thames:

West India Docks

This is the channel that ran from the Thames to Blackwall Basin, and then led into the West India Docks (see the extract from Smith’s New Plan of London, dated 1816 earlier in the post).

This is the view looking east along the channel towards the Blackwall Basin. The Canary Wharf complex has been built over much of the old West India Docks.

West India Docks

To the right of the above photo, behind the trees is the old Dockmaster’s House:

West India Docks

The Dockmaster’s House is named Bridge House and was built between 1819 and 1820 for the West India Dock Company’s Principal Dockmaster. The entrance to the house faces to the channel running between docks and river, however if you look on the right of the building, you will see large bay windows facing out towards the river. This was a deliberate part of the design by John Rennie as these windows, along with the house being on raised ground would provide a perfect view towards the river and the shipping about to enter or leave the docks.

A short distance further on and Prestons Road crosses another channel between docks and river. This is the channel between the West India South Dock and the Thames, and the view west provides a stunning view of some of the recent developments:

West India Docks

With the Docklands Light Railway crossing the old dock in the distance:

West India Docks

Original cranes remaining from when this was a working dock:

West India Docks

It is fascinating when standing here to imagine the many thousands of ships that have entered or exited through this channel, and where they had been coming from or going to.

Looking east where the channel meets the river.

Blue Bridge

The bridge that spans the channel in the above photos is the bridge that has taken on the name of the Blue Bridge.

Blue Bridge

Built during the late 1960s, the bridge is just the latest of a number that have spanned the channel.

I have never seen the bridge lift, but I was lucky enough to go under the bridge during a trip along the Thames on the Massey Shaw fireboat back in 2015:

Blue Bridge

The bridge marks the end of Prestons Road, continuing south, the road changes name to Manchester Road, all the way to the southern tip of the Isle of Dogs, where the road again changes name to Westferry Road, which then continues along the western side of the Isle of Dogs, all the way up to the West India Dock Road, which it joins opposite Pennyfields, explored in last week’s post.

The view heading south from the bridge:

Manchester Road

On the right of the above photo, there is a row of terrace houses that run along a street slightly offset from what is now Manchester Road. This terrace marks the original route of Manchester Road up to an earlier incarnation of the bridge.

Having come to the end of my walk along Prestons Road, there was one last place I wanted to find.

Asda was part of the graffiti on the 1980s wall, so I wanted to find the store that would change the approach to shopping on the Isle of Dogs.

I have marked the location of the Asda store, with its surrounding car park on the following map  (© OpenStreetMap contributors):

Isle of Dogs Asda

I walked along Manchester Road, then cut through Mudchute Park:

Mudchute

As usual, there is far too much for a weekly post, and I will return to the Isle of Dogs and places like Mudchute in future posts, however it was an area of land created by dumping the spoil when constructing and dredging Millwall Dock.

Now a large area of parkland, a city farm, and with a restored anti-aircraft gun, commemorating the Second World War when a number of these guns were based in the area, and the terrible suffering from bombing of those living on the Isle of Dogs:

Mudchute

An exit from Mudchute runs directly into the Asda car park, with the many new developments gradually taking over the Isle of Dogs in the background:

Isle of Dogs Asda

This was the change in shopping in the 1980s when many of the major stores opened up large “superstores” with car parks where you could drive and do a complete weekly shop without having to go to a number of separate shops.

Perhaps more convenient, but an approach that would result in the closure of so many individual, often family run shops.

The view across the car park to the Asda store:

Isle of Dogs Asda

The store gives away its 1980s heritage by the lack of lots of glass, which is typical of the majority of recent stores of this type.

Isle of Dogs Asda

The coming of Asda marked the early years of the developments that would dramatically change the Isle of Dogs, change that is continuing as the glass and steel towers continue to grow.

It would be great to know if I have the correct location for the wall with the graffiti.

If any past or current resident of the Isle of Dogs can confirm, or advise the correct location, I would be very grateful.

I assume the wall was just demolished as part of the development of the area, and the changes as a result of the new roundabout and the Aspen Way. A real shame that the wall was not kept, as part of the historical records of the changes to this fascinating part of London.

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New River Walk – Cheshunt to Bowes Park

In October of last year, I started the first part of the New River Walk, a walk alongside the 17th century artificial river that was built to bring in supplies of clean water from springs near Ware in Hertfordshire to New River Head in north Clerkenwell.

Some years ago Thames Water signposted a New River Walk that follows the course of the New River as far as is possible, and where it is not possible to walk alongside, the route guides the walker to the next point to access the river.

A couple of weekends ago, on a grey and damp Saturday, we started a second weekend to complete the walk. Starting at October’s finishing point in Cheshunt, and ending at New River Head.

This post covers the New River Walk from Cheshunt to near Bowes Park station, where the river flows into a tunnel heading to Alexandra Palace. A mid-week post will cover the stage of the walk from Alexandra Palace to New River Head.

The route of today’s post can be seen in the following map. Starting at “S”, and with some of the key points covered in the post numbered.

Walking the New River from Cheshunt to Bowes Park

The problem with arranging a weekend in advance is that the weather cannot be guaranteed, and after some sunny weekends, the weekend of the walk turned out grey and damp, with plenty of mud on the path.

The was the scene starting off at Cheshunt:

New River Cheshunt

In the following photo, the large building on the right is the 40 acre site of Newsprinters. As the majority of newspapers no longer run their own print presses, companies such as Newsprinters provide this service to multiple newspapers, so if you read one, it may well have been printed at this site, which is alongside the A10.

New River, Cheshunt

A short distance onward, and the results of Storm Eunice were still visible, and would continue to be at a number of points along the New River:

New River

Point 1 on the map: In the following photo the New River opens out into a small lake. The Cheshunt Country Club is behind the trees on the right, and behind the trees directly in front is Theobalds Park:

Theobalds Park

Theobalds Park is the site of a 16th century palace that was destroyed during the Civil War, and a later stately home which is now a hotel and club.

A London connection with Theobalds Park is that Temple Bar Gate was rebuilt here in 1888 after being demolished from its original location at the point where Fleet Street meets the Strand. The stones of the old gate were purchased by Lady Meux, wife of Sir Henry Bruce Meux (of the Meux’s Brewery Company), who owned the house in Theobalds Park.

The gate was rebuilt in the park, and used as an entertainment venue by Lady Meux.

The gate was relocated to London, with reconstruction and restoration completed in 2004, and the gate can now be seen at the entrance to Paternoster Square, just north of St Paul’s Cathedral.

The gate in Theobalds Park, five years before moving back to London:

Temple Bar, Theobalds Park

(Image credit: Temple Bar, Theobalds Park cc-by-sa/2.0 – © Christine Matthews – geograph.org.uk/p/185643)

Point 2 on the map: Continuing past Theobalds Park, and it was time to cross a major landmark on the route, a landmark that confirmed we were heading towards outer London. This was the crossing of the M25.

The New River flows from source in Ware to the current termination point at the west and east reservoirs by Seven Sisters Road, without any form of pumping. The incredibly slight gradient along the route is just sufficient to ensure a continuous flow of water.

Despite being built in the early 17th century, the New River continues to be a source of water for London, so when the New River meets the M25, the M25 has to give way.

The M25 has to go under the New River, and the river is carried over the motorway within its own dedicated bridge.

This is the point where the river is split into two channels, ready to enter the bridge:

New River crossing the M25

The two channels flow along the bridge, which has a thick concrete slab covering the top:

New River crossing the M25

Looking along the bridge dedicated to carrying the New River over the M25:

New River crossing the M25

Although the bridge carrying the New River over the M25 has a solid concrete surface, this is not a traffic route. There is a track to the Thames Water equipment on either side of the bridge, so the use of a hard surface over the bridge could be to allow Thames Water equipment to move between the two sides of the motorway.

It could also be used to prevent any accidental spillover from the river to the motorway below.

The view looking west from the centre of the bridge:

New River crossing the M25

And the view looking east, at Junction 25 on the M25:

New River crossing the M25

A relatively rural scene at the southern end of the bridge, with a green New River Path signpost showing the way:

New River crossing the M25

The two channels of the New River exit on the south side of the M25:

New River crossing the M25

Colourful graffiti on a rather grey day:

New River

Point 3 on the map: The New River has to cross a number of natural rivers in its route from Ware to New River Head. One of these rivers is the Turkey Brook, which rises just to the east of Potters Bar and heads to join the River Lee Navigation not far from Enfield Lock station.

The Turkey Brook is shown in the following photo, with, in the background the Docwra Viaduct, originally built in 1859, which carries the New River over the Turkey Brook:

Turkey Brook

Construction of the aqueduct enabled one of the long meanders of the New River to be replaced by a straightened route. The aqueduct was built by Thomas Docwra of Cheshunt, who is presumably the source of the name.

Docwra is an unusual surname, and Thomas Docwra could well be a descendent of another Thomas Docwra who was the Grand Prior of the Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem in England in the early 16th century, and who had their headquarters at Clerkenwell, of which St John’s Gate is a reminder.

According to the Thames Water guide to the walk, somewhere around the Docwra Aqueduct are a number of boreholes which enable the New River to be part of an “Artificial Recharge Scheme”. This is where water is extracted from the New River and pumped into the chalk below ground. When extra water is needed to supply London, it is then pumped back out of this aquifer.

I did not see any evidence of this, but the path diverts slightly around the Docwra Aqueduct, and along the path there were also a number of bland brick buildings with nothing to provide a clue as to their function.

Soon after the Docwra Aqueduct, the evidence of the long straight route of the river enabled by the aqueduct can be seen, along with a number of places where what looked like over sized sandbags lining one side of the river:

New River

Not sure why there would be sandbags, as the New River is not a natural river liable to flood, with water levels in the New River being controlled.

Another casualty from Storm Eunice:

New River

And more evidence of the storm:

New River

Point 4 on the map: The walk has now reached Enfield, and there is very little of the river to see. Originally, there was a loop of the river around Enfield, however in 1900, this loop was bypassed by the construction of three cast iron pipes under the town which carried the river on a more direct route.

This means that the New River Walk now runs through the streets of Enfield, with the green signposts directing the way:

Enfield

Parts of the original route of the New River around Enfield have been preserved as an ornamental watercourse, and the most attractive part is along the aptly named River View, which starts with the Crown and Horseshoes pub overlooking the old river:

Crown and Horseshoes, River View, Enfield

Looking along River View, with terrace houses lining one side of the footpath, the ornamental remains of the New River on the other side:

River View Enfield

The houses on the right in the above photo appear to have their own private bridge over the river to their gardens.

Small park at the end of River View – one of the small bridges over the ornamental New River can be seen on the right:

Enfield

South of Enfield we pick up the New River again, however it does a number of disappearing acts as it flows through housing estates and other areas where there is no accessible path alongside the river.

Point 5 on the map: This is another point where the New River has to cross a natural stream. It also shows the age of the New River Walk, and that there appears to have been little major maintenance of the walk over the last few years.

Another of the natural streams that the New River had to cross was Salmon’s Brook. This stream has its source in fields north of Hadley Wood station, and eventually flows into the River Lee.

To carry the stream under the New River, a lead lined wooden aqueduct was originally constructed, which was replaced by a brick aqueduct in 1682, which was later largely replaced by a clay embankment and tunnel.

The 1682 arch (known as the Clarendon Arch after the Earl of Clarendon who was the Governor of the New River Company at the time that the arch was constructed) through which the Salmon’s Brook enters the tunnel under the New River was a viewing point when Thames Water originally laid out the New River path, however access to the viewing point has become overgrown and in a bad state of repair and is now closed and fenced off, so it was impossible to get down to the stream and see the arch.

At the top of the viewing point, there is a stone plaque. Very hard to read due to weathering and lack of maintenance, however it dates from 1786 when the New River was raised on a bank of earth over the stream.

The following photo shows the stone plaque and Salmon’s Brook. Originally there was access via steps to the right to see the 1682 arch, which is now a Grade II listed structure.

Clarendon Arch

The arch is the oldest part of the New River to remain, and has an inscription and crest around the entrance to the tunnel:

Clarendon Arch

(Image credit: Clarendon Arch, Bush Hill, London N21 cc-by-sa/2.0 – © John Salmon – geograph.org.uk/p/302364)

Around Winchmore Hill, the New River meanders past larger houses, with gardens backing onto the river:

New River

With New River green signs directing the path along some small diversions:

New River

There are a number of buildings along this stretch of the New River that appear to be pumping stations, however unlike the buildings in the stretch from Ware to Cheshunt, these buildings do not appear to be extracting ground water and pumping into the river.

In the following photo, the building does have what appears to be a concrete channel running to the river, so it may have the capability to pump water from the chalk below, into the river.

New River

Point 6 on the map: At this point, the New River comes up to Green Lanes by the junction with Carpenter Gardens before turning away to head into a housing estate. A couple of stones mark the New River along with a small green space, with the reminder that the New River is “Neither New, Nor a River”:

New River by Green Lanes

We can follow the New River for a short distance from the above photo, but it then heads between rows of houses on either side, with the gardens of the houses reaching straight down to the river – so no walking route.

Instead, we walk along the adjacent streets. Here is the aptly named River Avenue, with the New River behind the houses on the left:

River Avenue

I have no idea whether having the New River running at the end of your garden adds to the property price, but it does feature in estate agents descriptions, as there is currently one house for sale in the street that has “fantastic views over the New River and the London skyline • 40ft x 20ft rear garden backing onto the New River”.

Rejoining the New River and more dramatic evidence of Storm Eunice:

New River

The stretch with the marque is along a section of the New River where there is an earth embankment along one side where the river was built along sloping ground and the embankment was needed to ensure the level flow of the river.

At the far end of this stretch, an attempt had been made to close off the access point, presumably due to the marque:

New River

Point 7 on the map: There are two landmarks at point 7. The first is where the New River crosses yet another natural river, this is Pymmes Brook emerging from a tunnel under the adjacent railway line, before it enters another tunnel under the New River:

Pymmes Brook

Pymmes Brook appears to emerge in the golf course, just to the north west of Cockfosters station. As with the other rivers and streams that the New River crosses, Pymmes Brook flows east to where it joins the River Lee.

These streams seem relatively insignificant, however taking a wider view and looking at a topographic map, we can see how they have formed in low ground either side of the higher ground of Cockfosters, and over centuries have probably been responsible for some of the erosion of the lower ground as they drained the area around Hadley Wood.

Pymmes Brook

The second landmark at point 7 is where the New River crosses the A406 – the north circular road seen in the photo below. The bridge carries a railway across the road, the New River is flowing under the road directly in front of where I am standing:

North Circular Road

The following photo shows the New River emerging from the tunnel that carries it under the North Circular:

North Circular Road

After crossing the North Circular, the New River continues alongside terrace streets. One of the houses backing on to the New River has a faded ghost sign for a Builder and Decorator. An unusual position as the sign was not facing onto any road:

Ghost sign

I am approaching the end of the first day of the weekend’s walk, and the New River helpfully provides a natural stopping point.

I have reached Bowes Park (Point E on the map), and here the New River enters a tunnel:

Bowes Park tunnel

The tunnel was built as one of the 19th century initiatives to straighten out the New River and the tunnel runs from Bowes Park to near Alexandra Palace station, and this straight length of tunnel (built in 1859) reduced the original overall length of the New River by 1.5km.

That was the end of Saturday’s walk. Luckily, public transport serves the New River walk really well. In the upper stretches of the walk, it is close to the line from Liverpool Street up to Ware, and for the walk covered in today’s post, it is close to the line to Moorgate, so from the entrance to the tunnel, it was a short walk up to Bowes Park station.

There are numerous places along the route of the New River which take a name from some aspect of the river. Whether a simple name like River Avenue, or perhaps named after someone associated with the river, and the road that leads from the New River up to Bowes Park station is called Myddleton Road after Sir Hugh Myddleton who was the driving force behind the financing and construction of the New River in the early years of the 17th century.

The name is also displayed on the top of this house in Myddleton Road, that was once the home of Lazaris Family Butchers:

Myddleton

We arrived at Bowes Park station, just as a train was leaving. The next one was cancelled, so the day ended with an hours wait on a windswept platform for a train:

Bowes Park Station

Before I end the post, you may be wondering (or almost certainly not), how the New River is kept relatively clean of floating debris, given the amount of trees that line the side, number of housing estates the river flows through etc.

We did notice that there was more rubbish in the river, the further we headed into London, but we also saw a rather clever cleaning method in use at two locations.

In the following photo, you can see a small cage suspended over the river.

Cleaning the New River

This cage moves along the gantry across the river and is lowered into the river. There is a grating in the river that allows rubbish to collect rather than continue flowing. As the cage is dropped into the river, the lower section opens up as it falls below the surface of the water.

The cage then collects any rubbish collected against the grating, the cage closes, and is raised. It then moves to the right where once over the ground, the cage opens, depositing any collected rubbish on the ground.

The cage is lowered progressively across the river so the whole width is covered.

The whole process appears to be automatic as there was no one visible on the river bank, or building from which to operate the system.

And that is how the New River is automatically cleaned.

Time permitting, the final stage, from Bowes Park to New River Head in north Clerkenwell will be the subject of a mid-week post in the next couple of weeks.

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The Duchy of Lancaster

It is not often that you can trace the naming of streets and the ownership of land to events that happened between 600 and 800 years ago, however there is one place between the Strand and the Thames, and the boundary marker for the Duchy of Lancaster shown in the following photo provides a clue:

Duchy of Lancaster

The boundary marker is close to the ground, by the steps from the Embankment up to Waterloo Bridge, on the Somerset House side of the bridge. The marker is circled in the following photo:

Duchy of Lancaster

It must have been the position of the sun, and the strength of light on the stairs, however I have never realised how impressive the stairs leading up to Waterloo Bridge are, despite walking past, and up them, very many times:

Duchy of Lancaster

The marker is to mark the historic boundary of the Manor of Savoy. I got in contact with the Duchy of Lancaster who told me that this is one of a number of boundary markers, including one on the Lyceum Theatre. A future project to locate them all.

So what does a boundary marker of the Manor of Savoy have to do with the Duchy of Lancaster.

The answer goes back to the Middle Ages, and the time of King Henry III and his wife, Eleanor of Provence in the 13th century.

This was a time when the bank of the river between the City and Westminster was being lined with palaces and grounds belonging to the nobility of the country. One of these was Simon de Montfort, the 6th Earl of Leicester, who formed an estate to the west of Somerset House.

de Montfort has a fascinating history and both supported, and fought against the king, and for a time he ran an early form of Parliament. de Montfort died during the Battle of Evesham on the 4th of August, 1265, when he led a small army of rebellious barons against Edward, the son of King Henry III.

Following the death of Simon de Montfort, the king granted his estate to Peter, the Earl of Savoy, from where the estate would get the name “Manor of Savoy” a name which can still be found in a number of streets and buildings in the area.

Edward was the eldest son of Henry III. He would later become Edward I. Henry III had another son called Edmund, and in 1266 Edmund was granted the title of Earl of Lancaster.

Meanwhile, Peter, the Earl of Savoy had died and the Savoy estate seems to have been in the possession of a small religious establishment. Eleanor of Provence, the wife of King Henry III and mother of Edmund purchased the Savoy estate and bestowed it to her son Edmund in 1284, thereby bringing together the names Savoy and Lancaster.

The history of the estate between 1245 and 1399 is rather complex, so rather than write lots of confusing text, I have tried to show this almost as a flow chart:

Duchy of Lancaster

Basically, the Manor of Savoy is formed, and then granted, along with lots of other titles, to Edmund, the second son of Henry III and Eleanor of Provence.

When Edmund died, the estate passed to his son Thomas, who was beheaded in 1322 after leading a rebellion, then the estate passed to Edmund’s second son, Henry, the 3rd Earl of Lancaster. On his death, the estate passed to his eldest son, Henry Grosmont, who was granted the title Duke of Lancaster by Edward III.

Henry Grosmont had two daughters, and as daughters could not inherit a title, it became part of the dowry of his daughter Blanche, who married John of Gaunt, the third son of King Edward III.

Blanche and John of Gaunt had a son, Henry who should have inherited the estate, however during the short reign of Richard II, the king confiscated his estates and banished Henry.

Henry returned with an army, beat Richard II and became King Henry IV, thereby bringing the Manor of Savoy and the Duchy of Lancaster into royal ownership in 1399.

Henry IV defined that the estates belonging to the Duchy of Lancaster should be held by the Monarch as a private estate, separate to all other estates, and should descend through the Monarchy.

The Crown Lands Act 1702 defined that the Monarch could only receive an income from the estate and not benefit from any capital, and that is how the Duchy of Lancaster, including what remains of the Manor of Savoy remains to this day.

The area occupied by the Savoy in 1755 is shown in the following map extract. Somerset House can be seen to the right of the area occupied by the Savoy.

Manor of Savoy

At the lower left corner of the Savoy, you can see the “Savoy Stairs”. These disappeared under the construction of the Embankment which pushed the river wall further out into the Thames, but as I have written about in a number of previous posts, these stairs provide snapshots of life in London and the wider country.

The 1730s and 1740s were decades when the country was often at war, with, for example, the War of the Austrian Succession between 1740 and 1748 which was basically a war between the ruling dynasties of Europe, and who would inherit the Hapsburg crown.

In 1743, the Battle of Dettingen took place where Britain, Austria and Hanover fought the French. This was the last battle where a British monarch (George II) led an army into Battle.

There are many newspaper reports naming the Savoy Stairs, and for this post I will use just two which tell of the risks to Londoners of being press ganged into the Navy, and of those where the stairs were the point where they left London, during this turbulent period of history.

Those working on the river was always at risk of being taken, but they would fight back. Report from the Stamford Mercury on the 21st June 1739 “Yesterday a Press-Gang of Eight, in a Man of War’s Boat, having impressed a Waterman off of Barge-House-Stairs, a Gally was manned from the Temple, by the Temple Watermen, who taking Truncheons, Stones and Brickbats with them, rowed after the Press Boat, boarded them and at last beat the Gang, brought off the Waterman, and the Press-Boat at the Savoy-Stairs, where she sunk by the Holes made in her in the Battle.”

And from the Ipswich Journal on the 30th July 1743: “Yesterday morning a great number of Recruits were put on board a close Lighter at the Savoy-Stairs, in order to be shipped at Gravesend to Portmahon and Gibraltar.

That was a slight detour, but I find the river stairs tell us so much of what life was like in London when the river was a central part of the lives of so many people, whether a place of work, or point of departure or return.

Back to the Duchy of Lancaster.

The boundary marker photographed at the top of the post shows the historical boundary of the Manor of Savoy, that became part of the Duchy of Lancaster.

I have marked the properties that are still owned by the Duchy of Lancaster. along with the location of the boundary marker in the following map  (© OpenStreetMap contributors):

Duchy of Lancaster

The roads around these buildings still recall the name of the old Manor of Savoy with Savoy Street, Savoy Place, Savoy Hill and Savoy Way.

The long building that runs to the west of the approach to Waterloo Bridge is the 1932 constructed Brettenham House. The southern end of the building can be seen in the following photo:

Duchy of Lancaster

From Waterloo Bridge, the two river facing properties of the Duchy of Lancaster are Brettenham House and the part brick building named Savoy Place to the left is now part occupied by the Institution of Engineering and Technology, and is also available as an events space.

Duchy of Lancaster

Savoy Place is the name of the building and the street that runs in front of the building, and continues left between the gardens and buildings.

The building at the southern end of Brettenham House, facing the river is 1 Lancaster Place, and are the offices of the Duchy of Lancaster, with the coat of arms of the Duchy above the door. These date back to Edmund, the first Earl of Lancaster:

Duchy of Lancaster

The entrance to 1 Lancaster Place:

Duchy of Lancaster

Walking from Waterloo Bridge, down to Savoy Place and this is the view up Savoy Street with Brettenham House on the right. The photo shows the slope of the street down from the Strand in the distance, to the Thames.

Duchy of Lancaster

Part of the Savoy Place building seen from Waterloo Bridge in the street of the same name, can be seen to the left of the above photo.

In front of Savoy Place is a statue of Michael Faraday:

Savoy Place

Michael Faraday was a 19th century scientist who investigated electromagnetism and electromagnetic induction, basically how a magnet could induce an electrical current to flow in a wire, which has led to how we generate electricity today.

The society occupying Savoy Place tells the history of how electricity has impacted every element of everyday life. The Society of Telegraph Engineers was formed in 1871. As the use of electricity started to grow, the society changed name to Society of Telegraph Engineers and Electricians in 1880, and in 1889, the society became the Institution of Electrical Engineers.

These societies had been meeting in the buildings of other London institutions, but in 1909 the Institution of Electrical Engineers took possession of the lease of Savoy Place which had been built in the 1830s for the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Surgeons of England.

Walking up Savoy Street and I found these garage doors in the side of Brettenham House. The photo shows the slope of the road down to the river, and I rather like the lettering used above the doors.

Duchy of Lancaster

Half way up Savoy Street, and hidden among all the 20th and 21st century buildings is a survivor from the hospital built on the land of the Savoy estate by Henry VII in the early years of the 16th century. This is the Savoy Chapel:

Savoy Chapel

The chapel is a private chapel of the Sovereign in Right of the Duchy of Lancaster. Despite appearances of being older, much of the chapel dates from 1865 after the building was gutted by fire. Only part of the outer wall dates from the original construction in 1502.

The Savoy Chapel is maintained by the Duchy of Lancaster. The chapel as it appeared in 1830 (© The Trustees of the British Museum):

Savoy Chapel

Despite the later rebuild the chapel today looks much the same as the above print, although there are no sheep to be seen tending the perfect looking grass.

Savoy Chapel

A future post will cover the chapel and the history of the Savoy and the hospital in more detail, as I wanted to look at the Duchy of Lancaster in this post.

Savoy Chapel

The Savoy Tap pub, which although today is built into the surrounding 19th century buildings, a pub has been on the site since the mid 19th century. Again, the street shows the slope between Strand and Thames:

Savoy Tap pub

My map of the buildings owned by the Duchy of Lancaster, shows a couple of buildings along the Strand, west of Savoy Street. These are the first two buildings in the following photo:

Duchy of Lancaster

The main block on the corner is 111 Strand, and has a map carved on the front of the building which I wrote about in this post.

On the eastern corner of the junction between the Strand and the approach to Waterloo Bridge is Duchy House, the Duchy of Lancaster’s single building on this side of the approach to Waterloo Bridge:

Duchy of Lancaster

On the western side of the junction is the corner building owned by the Duchy of Lancaster with Brettenham House to the left:

Duchy of Lancaster

From across the river, we can see the end of Brettenham House, and Savoy Place.

Savoy Manor

The following print from 1736 shows the Savoy from the south bank of the river. the Savoy Stairs are on the left and the tower of the Savoy chapel can be seen to the rear of the left of the print (© The Trustees of the British Museum):

Savoy Palace

If the perspective and scale of the buildings in the above print is correct, then Savoy Stairs would have been just to the left of centre of the Savoy Place building today.

The right hand part of the buildings in the above print would today be under the approach to Waterloo Bridge, hence the location of the boundary marker on the eastern side of the bridge.

As well as the remaining parts of the land associated with the Manor of Savoy, the Duchy of Lancaster also owns a considerable portfolio of other holdings associated with the original holdings at the time of Henry IV.

This includes land in Lancashire, Staffordshire, Cheshire and Yorkshire, various mineral rights and parts of the foreshore in Lancashire.

The estates of the Duchy of Lancaster have been owned by the Monarch since Henry IV took over the Lancaster inheritance in 1399, and continue to be owned by the current Monarch, as Duke of Lancaster.

The name goes further back to 1266 when Edmund , the second son of Henry III granted him the title of Earl of Lancaster, the Savoy name originates from Peter, Earl of Savoy who was also granted the estate by Henry III, and the estate goes back to 1245 when Simon de Montfort formed the estate and built a palace on the banks of the Thames.

All from a small boundary marker on the side of the steps up to Waterloo Bridge. Now I need to find the rest of the markers.

alondoninheritance.com

8th Year of Blogging – A Year in Review

The end of February marks the end of my 8th year of blogging, so time for a bit of a ramble through some of the themes of the past year, and how these have had an impact on London.

But first, a couple of blog admin comments. Firstly e-mail,

When I set up the blog in 2014 I used all the default WordPress widgets including one for “Contact” where the e-mail address was displayed, and could be clicked on to launch an e-mail client. The problem with this approach was that the address was easily discoverable and found by all the spammers who pollute the Internet.

The original blog e-mail was full of e-mails with dodgy links, attachments full of viruses, all the usual messages trying to fish for bank account details, etc.

There was so much that I have missed many genuine e-mails, so my apologies if you have messaged and I have not replied.

I have now changed to a Gmail address and this can be found down the lower right of the home page of the blog, displayed as a picture, so whilst not as convenient to use, it should stop much of the spam the old account received.

I have also added a “Blog roll” down the lower right of the home page. This is a listing of other blogs, or sites which may be of interest. I will be adding more in the coming weeks.

A London Inheritance Walks

The main blog related event for me during the past year, was the start of my guided walks. Two walks, one covered the South Bank and the other the Barbican and Golden Lane Estates. The walks were a sell-out and it was brilliant to meet so many readers, and my thanks to all who came on a walk.

I have been working on three new walks which will follow the same format, and will cover Bankside, Bermondsey and Wapping, as well as continuing the South Bank and Barbican walks.

I plan to have dates advertised from late April. They will be on the blog, and for early access to all dates, you can follow my Eventbrite page here.

Swanscombe Peninsula

Last September I visited the Swanscombe Peninsula, a large area of land that pushes out into the River Thames, to the east of the city.

The peninsula is under threat of development with the London Resort proposals for a large theme park to be built on much of the land.

The Swanscombe Peninsula has a long industrial heritage, but is now mainly marsh and grasslands. Walking the area provides a wonderful feeling of walking an isolated and natural section of north Kent, an environment that is all the more important as London pushes east along the river.

The Swanscombe Peninsula is an important site of biodiversity, with wetlands and marsh occupying significant parts of the space,

year of blogging

A key decision that may impact whether the London Resort goes ahead, was the decision last November by Natural England to confirm the peninsula as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and in their announcement stating:

Natural England has today confirmed Swanscombe Peninsula as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in recognition of its national importance for plants, geology, birds and invertebrates – including one of the rarest spiders in the country.

A valuable green space abundant in wildlife lying close to major urban areas, the 260 hectare site alongside the Thames Estuary forms a corridor of habitats connecting Ebbsfleet Valley with the southern shore of the River Thames between Dartford and Gravesend.

The Natural England Press Release can be found here.

It remains to be seen whether confirming the site as an SSSI is sufficient to stop the proposed development, but it was a very hopeful step.

New River Walk

In October, I walked the first part, from Ware to Cheshunt, of the New River Path, a walk that follows the 17th century New River from source near Ware in Hertfordshire to New River Head in Islington (the final part from the east and west reservoirs around Woodberry Wetlands, just south of the Seven Sisters Road to New River Head being a heritage walk along the route of the river).

It was a fascinating walk, along manmade infrastructure and 19th century pumping stations that are still key in providing water for London’s growing population.

new river walk

Hopefully, in the coming weeks, I will complete the remainder of the walk from Cheshunt to Islington.

The Changing Face Of London

The face of London continues to change with what seems a continuous stream of new glass and steel towers. Last May, I wrote about Three Future Demolitions and Re-developments, one of which was the old ITV Studios on the South Bank (the square tower in the centre of the following photo):

south bank

The building is now securely fenced off, and scaffolding surrounds the lower buildings and appears to have started creeping up the tower. presumably in preparation for demolition:

south bank

Coin Street Community Builders and the Waterloo Community Development Group have organised a petition in opposition to the planning application. Their page on the proposal can be found here

Meanwhile, the transformation of many of the city’s buildings to either expensive apartments or hotels continues. I was in Westminster on Friday and the old War Office building is now being transformed into the “OWO Residences”, and “London’s first Raffles Hotel”, which will offer “Privileges and Amenities Beyond Compare” which gives an idea of the price range and target market.

The former War Office building really is in a prime position, on Whitehall and opposite the Household Cavalry Museum and the tourist trap in front of the Horse Guards building.

The Grade II listed old War Office building:

old war office

The only constant in London is the level of change, however it does seem that so much local identity is being lost. There must have been so many other creative uses for such a building. I wonder what has happened to the tunnels that once connected to the building.

My Father’s Photos

The original aims of the blog were rather selfish. To provide me with an incentive to find the current locations of my father’s old photos, and to find out more about London, which I had probably taken for granted for too many years.

I featured more of my father’s photos during the last year, one of my favourites was the following photo of an art exhibition in 1952 in Embankment Gardens:

year of blogging

The same view today:

year of blogging

I have many more of my father’s photos still to go, and there is so much else of interest in London, so hopefully the blog will be still be going for a few more years.

London is fascinating to explore, but sometimes it is just good to sit and watch. Whilst walking through Bankside last year I noticed a couple had moored their boat in the river and were reading and looking at the view.

year of blogging

Not a bad way to spend a Sunday morning.

The National Covid Memorial Wall 

For a second year running, Covid has had a significant impact on London. The impact to businesses, significantly reduced tourism, working from home, etc. all have a visible impact on the city, however the hidden tragedy is the number of deaths.

The daily release of figures of deaths and infections become hard to grasp. Last Friday’s figures identified another 120 deaths.

The National Covid Memorial Wall, along the embankment opposite the Palace of Westminster, between Westminster and Lambeth Bridges, really brings home the impact of these figures, with each heart along the wall representing an individual death.

National Covid Memorial Wall

The memorial was created by 1,500 volunteers starting on the 29th of March 2021, coordinated by Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, and Led By Donkeys. Further information on the wall can be found here.

National Covid Memorial Wall

The memorial wall stretches almost the entire length between Westminster and Lambeth Bridges:

National Covid Memorial Wall
National Covid Memorial Wall

Each of the hearts represents an individual death. Families have added the names of those who have died to many of the hearts which really brings home that the daily figures represent the loss of an individual, and the impact on their family.

National Covid Memorial Wall
National Covid Memorial Wall
National Covid Memorial Wall
National Covid Memorial Wall
National Covid Memorial Wall
National Covid Memorial Wall
National Covid Memorial Wall
National Covid Memorial Wall

There are calls to make the wall a permanent memorial, however I suspect this Government will want to move on very quickly from the previous two years.

The City of London

Whilst much of London is almost back to “normal”, the City of London is still very quiet compared to pre-pandemic days. Much of this can probably be attributed to the attractions of working from home for at least part of the week. Why spend a fortune on commuting, frequently in a crowded commuter train, when you can work at home for a few days a week.

Back on the 3rd of August 2021, the Evening Standard was telling older workers that apparently they had a “duty” to go back to the office:

year of blogging

The impact on Transport for London has been considerable. Probably the only transport system in a capital city that has to rely on fares for the majority of its revenue.

The latest data from the London DataStore, runs up to December 2021 and shows the impact of the last couple of years on travel on the Underground.

I downloaded the data and created the following graph, which shows how travel on the Underground has gradually been rising over the ten years from April 2010 to 2020, and then fell off a cliff at the start of the first lock down.

year of blogging

The above graph uses monthly data, and shows the peaks and troughs of travel patterns through the year, and also that travel volumes have still not returned to their pre-pandemic numbers.

Where a system is so dependent on fare revenue, the graph shows the impact on TfL’s finances and why Government support is needed. The challenges of negotiating this when you have a Labour London Mayor and a Conservative National Government have resulted in only short term solutions, rather than a long term agreement on how London’s transport can be funded for both day to day running costs and future investment.

The impact on the City can be seen walking the streets. There are a number of businesses that are dependent on people, such as cafes, restaurants, dry-cleaners etc, which have closed.

This includes the Cards Galore shop on the corner of Cheapside and Wood Street. (I wrote about the location in September of last year):

year of blogging

The core of the City is strangely quiet. There is hardly any traffic in Cheapside, as from close to St Mary-le-Bow, the street is closed to traffic apart from buses and cycles:

City of London

This appears to include taxis, as whilst walking from Cheapside to Liverpool Street I did not see a single black cab. There was a queue of people waiting for a taxi at Liverpool Street, so I assume taxis in this area are in short supply, perhaps due to the number of road closures.

There are far more people walking the City streets than there has been for the last couple of years, however the City just seems so quiet, more like a Sunday than the working week.

The Bank Junction where only buses and cycles are allowed:

City of London

I am in two minds regarding the changes to the City’s streets. It is possible to stand in the middle of the street and take photos, air quality is much better, however the City seems to have lost something which made the City – the City.

The City of London has always been busy during the working week. Pavements busy with people, roads with cars, vans, taxis and buses. That was part of the attraction, what made the City of London unique and different to the rest of London. A busy centre of trade and finance, and in the past, industry and markets.

Looking down Lombard and King William Street:

City of London

Other planned changes for the City include the move of Smithfield Market to Dagenham Dock, far to the east of the City, where Billingsgate, New Spitalfields and Smithfield markets would be consolidated into a single site.

Smithfield is the last wholesale market in central London and would be a further change to the historic functions of the City. Many of the tenants are not happy.

Looking back over the Bank junction to Queen Victoria Street and Poultry:

City of London

View down Old Broad Street:

City of London

Old Broad Street on the left and Threadneedle Street on the right:

City of London

In the background of the above photo are the glass and steel towers that continue to be built within the City – will there be enough office workers to support all the space?

It will be interesting to see how the City of London reinvents itself. Will it return to a pre-pandemic “normal” after a few years?

If not, what happens to all the buildings? Conversion to expensive hotels and apartments will contribute to the loss of the City’s distinct identity. Trading too much on tradition could turn the City into a museum.

The move of the Museum of London to the empty Poultry and General Markets in Smithfield is a good move, but what are the benefits to the history and culture of the City by moving the remaining market at Smithfield?

Then just when you think that the last two years of terrible news is coming to an end, Russia starts a horrific invasion of Ukraine.

Walking along Whitehall on Friday, there was a small group opposite the entrance to Downing Street:

year of blogging

And the news stands across the city continue to provide a record of historical events:

year of blogging

And with that rather rambling review of my 8th year of blogging, can I thank you all for subscribing, commenting and just for reading my weekly explorations of London, and if you feel like a guided walk later in the year, I look forward to meeting you.

alondoninheritance.com

Cripplegate Ward: Lady Eleanor Holles School and Cripplegate

I am fascinated by the journey that books take over the years. I have a copy of a book titled “Cripplegate Ward” by Sir John James Baddeley, published in 1921.

Baddeley was the Lord Mayor of London between 1921 and 1922, and on the inside cover of the book is pasted a square of paper detailing Baddeley’s presentation of this copy of the book to his sister Emma Louisa Baddeley:

Cripplegate Ward

As it is roughly 100 years since Baddeley gave the book to his sister, I thought it would be a good time to revisit Cripplegate Ward, using the book as a guide.

Baddeley describes Cripplegate as the second largest ward in the City (Farringdon Without being the larger), covering an area of 63 acres, nearly a tenth of the whole City. In the last census (1911) before Badderley’s book was printed, the ward had a population of 36,793, the majority of whom were employed in the various warehouses and factories that could be found across the ward.

Cripplegate was / is divided into Cripplegate Within and Without to describe those parts of the ward that were in the City side of the old Roman wall, and the area on the outside of the wall. That demarcation makes very little difference today, but would have been important when the wall was still a feature of the landscape.

Whilst I have written about Cripplegate in a number of previous posts, what I also find fascinating is gradually peeling back the layers of the history of a place, and finding more detail than I have already covered, so for today’s post I want to explore two places within Cripplegate ward that I have not written about before. The first is:

Lady Eleanor Holles School

There is an elevated walkway underneath Gilbert House within the Barbican estate. The walkway is lined by a number of round, concrete pillars that support the building above, and on one of these pillars is the following plaque:

Lady Eleanor Holles' School

The plaque records the foundation in 1711 of the Lady Eleanor Holles School near the site of the plaque. The plaque is on the pillar arrowed in the following photo, which shows the location and view out to the central area of water in the Barbican:

Lady Eleanor Holles' School

Cripplegate Ward by Baddeley, along with an article on the history of the school in the City Press on the 24th of July 1869 both provide some background into the Lady Eleanor Holles School.

Lady Eleanor Holles died in 1708, and in her will asked that her executor, a Mrs Anne Watson, dispose of her estate “to such pious purposes as her executor might think best”. Her estate consisted of land and a number of properties which produced an income of £62 and 3 shillings a year.

There was already a boys school in Redcross Street, Cripplegate, and Mrs Anne Watson arranged that the properties from Eleanor Holles will were committed to a body of trustees, and the funds used for the creation of a girls school, consisting of “a schoolmistress and the education of fifty poor girls”, and to be known as “the Lady Holles’ Charity School”.

There is no record as to why Anne Watson chose the poor of Cripplegate to be the beneficiary of the Eleanor Hollis will, however Anne Watson appears to have been deeply interested in promoting education for the poor as in her own will she left £500 for a charity school.

Around the start of the 18th century, there were concerns regarding the lack of education for children of the poor, and what this meant for the promotion of “Christian principles”.

According to the City Press, the school “undoubtedly owes its origin to that general movement in favour of the religious education of the poor in the principles of Protestantism which took place in the latter stages of the seventeenth century”. Baddeley also adds that a document in possession of the treasurer of the school and written in 1709 states that “It is evident to common observation that the growth of vice and debauchery is greatly owing to the gross ignorance of the principles of the Christian religion, and Christian virtues can grow from no other root than Christian principles”.

The original school used rooms leased from the boys school, which was located towards the northern end of Redcross Street. In 1831 the enlargement of the school was proposed, and a new school for the girls was built at the southern end of Redcross Street.

I have circled the location of this school (marked as School Girls) on the 1894 Ordnance Survey map below (‘Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland“):

Lady Eleanor Holles' School

The school was located where Fore Street turned into Redcross Street. I have marked the location on a map of the area today (© OpenStreetMap contributors):

Lady Eleanor Holles' School

The plaque photographed earlier in the post is on the walkway under Gilbert House (arrowed in the map above), and the red rectangle shows the location of the school which would have been facing onto Redcross Street, which ran from just above the left of the church, past the school and into what are now the buildings of the Barbican.

The school went through a number of enlargements during the 19th century, and the final build of the early 1860s created a school with a capacity for 300 girls and 100 infants, residence for the school mistresses and a board room for the governors.

In the mid 19th century, the school seems to have been doing financially rather well, as in an 1868 survey of the “Thirty Three City of London Endowed Schools for Primary Instruction for Boys and Girls”, Lady Eleanor Holles school was identified as having the largest endowment, with an annual income of £1,377.

As with many charity schools throughout London, the Lady Eleanor Holles School had the sculptured figure of one of the scholars mounted on the front of the building. The following image of the figure, showing the collar, cap and clothes that would have been worn by the girls comes from Baddeley’s book on Cripplegate Ward:

Lady Eleanor Holles' School

The girls were instructed in the practice of the Christian religion. They were taught to spell, read and sew.

Although the school could support a large number of girls and infants, towards the end of the 19th century the majority of pupils were coming from outside the parish of St Giles, Cripplegate. This was down to the reduction in the number of dwelling houses in the area as more factories and warehouses were constructed.

The school was also in competition with the new schools created by the London Schools Board, which were being funded through the rates and parliamentary grants, rather than through charity donations and fees.

The future of the school was decided by the London County County who were looking for a site to construct a large, new fire station.

The LCC offered the trustees of the Lady Eleanor Holles School a sum of £30,000 for the land and buildings. The school trustees accepted, and moved to a new location in Mare Street, Hackney.

The reason for a new fire station in Redcross Street can be seen in this article from Lloyds Weekly Newspaper on the 4th of December 1898:

“Hitherto Watling-street has been the chief City fire station, and the proposed change would be of great advantage, as the warehouses in the vicinity of Wood-street are filled, as a rule, with the most combustible materials. On the northern side the station would be of very great utility to the over-crowded districts of St. Luke’s and Shoreditch, where most houses are old and the danger of fire considerable.”

I have written about the Redcross Street fire station in a previous post, as it was a central feature in one of my father’s post war photos of the area now occupied by the Barbican and Golden Lane estates. The post can be found here, and covers the story of the fire station during the blitz, Redcross Street, and the surrounding area.

What I did not have time to cover in the earlier post was the history of the school, so in the following photo, St Giles is the church which is still a central feature in the Barbican. Redcross Street fire station is the large building on the left, and the rest of the area shows the devastation of bombing, mainly on the night of the 29th December, 1940.

Lady Eleanor Holles' School

So, part of the area now occupied by the central water feature in the Barbican was once the site of the Redcross Street fire station, and before that, was the site of the Lady Eleanor Holles School for Girls.

The school, and fire station were once located in the centre of the lake in the following photo, just behind the tall grasses on the left. The walkway with the pillar and the plaque is in the background, underneath Gilbert House:

Lady Eleanor Holles' School

The above photo also shows how Gilbert House is supported by a relatively few number of slender pillars.

The Lady Eleanor Holles school remained at Mare Street, Hackney until the mid 1930s, when for similar reasons to the challenges of the late 19th century (industrialisation of the area, competition with many other local schools), the school decided to relocate out of central London and moved to a temporary location in Teddington, whilst a new school building was constructed at Hanworth Road, Hampton.

The Lady Eleanor Holles school continues to be based in Hampton and is rated as one of the leading independent girls schools in the country.

A very different location, but maintains the name of Lady Eleanor Holles, who left sufficient money through her property, to establish the original girls school in Redcross Street in 1711.

My second location for this week’s post on Cripplegate Ward is the feature that would give the ward its name:

Cripplegate

Wood Street runs from Gresham Street, across London Wall, finishing with a short stretch where it turns into Fore Street. Just before the junction with Fore Street, Roman House can be found on the right, and on the side of this building is the following plaque:

Cripplegate Ward

Cripplegate was the original northern gate to the Roman fort which occupied the north west corner of the old Roman City. The fort was discovered during post war excavations by Professor W.F. Grimes, and the location and size of the fort is shown by the blue rectangle in the following map of the wall from one of the plaques showing the route of the wall. The location of the gate is shown by the red arrow.

Cripplegate Ward

The plaque is on the right of the following photo of the northern section of Wood Street, the gate would have been across the street, to the left of the plaque.

Cripplegate Ward

The gate is shown in the modified 1633 version of the early Agas map of London, the red circle in the following map surrounds the gate. The orange circle surrounds St Giles, Cripplegate, and Redcross Street, the site of the school and fire station is on the left and Whitecross Street on the right:

Cripplegate Ward

The name of the gate has long been the subject of speculation. A news article from 1904 reads:

“The origin of the name of Cripplegate, in which stands the church of St Giles, has long puzzled the minds of antiquaries. Ben Johnson averred that the street took its name from a crippled philanthropist, but Stow says the name was derived from the thronging of cripples which frequented it for begging purposes. It seems however, now to be decided that the name comes from ‘Crepel-gate’ a covered way in the fortifications. There is still a strong belief prevailing, however, that when the body of St. Edmund was brought from Bury to save it from the Danes, crippled persons by the wayside were cured of their afflictions as the body passed, and that the church of St Giles, the patron saint of cripples, was erected in commemoration of the miracle.”

Baddeley, in his book on Cripplegate Ward provides more:

“The etymology must be sought elsewhere. Cripple-gate was a postern gate leading to the Barbican, while this watch-tower in advance of the City walls was fortified. The road between the postern and the burghkenning (Barbican) ran necessarily between two low walls – most likely of earth – which formed what in fortification would be described as a covered way. The name in Anglo-Saxon would be ‘Crepel’, ‘Cryfele’ or ‘Crypele’, a den or passage under ground, a barrow, and geat, a gate, street or way.”

The book “The Ward of Cripplegate in the City of London”, (1985) by Caroline Gordon and Wilfred Dewhirst also refers to the Anglo-Saxon Crepel, or covered way as the source of the name taken on by the gate, and that Crepel was still used in written references to the gate in the late 20th century. The authors do though dismiss the story of St Edmund as a story that can “hardly be taken seriously”.

Baddeley provides some excerpts from City records to illustrate the history of the gate. In 1297 is was ordered that “Crepelgate should be kept by the Wards of Crepelgate, Chepe and Bassieshawe”, and “At the Gate of Crepelgate, there were to be found at night, from the same Ward Within eight men, well armed; and from the Ward of Bassieshaw six men, well armed; and from the Ward of Colmannestrete, six men, well armed and Robert Cook and John le Little were chosen to keep the keys of the gate aforesaid.”

The gate required regular repair, and in “1490, Sir Edward Shaa, who had been Alderman of the Ward from 1473 to 1485 bequeathed five hundred marks for the purpose of repairing the Gate”.

The gate was well kept and guarded during the Wars of the Roses during the second half of the 15th century. This was the last time that the City wall was strengthened, and the brick work that was added to the City Wall can be still be seen in the stretch of wall by St Alphage, a very short distance to the east of the old location of the Cripplegate.

As with other City gates, it was used as a processional route, with Elizabeth I apparently using the gate as her access to the City on her journey from Hatfield to London after the death of her sister, Mary I on the 17th November 1558.

The gate was also used to display the bodies of those who had been executed as a warning to those passing through the gate.

Cripplegate as it appeared in 1760 looking north from the City side of the gate, within Wood Street:

Cripplegate Ward

The above print from Baddeley’s book is dated 1760, although it may have been a view of the gate some years earlier, as by 1760 the gate was being described as in a poor condition. The carriageway through the gate was relatively narrow, and London had been expanding considerably to the north of the old gates and Roman wall which by the mid 18th century were no longer effective or needed as a defensive structure to protect the City of London.

Tolls were taken at the gate, but these were insufficient to keep up with the costs of repair, so in early 1760, the decision was taken to demolish the gate.

The City Lands Committee advertised for tenders to demolish and remove a number of the old gates, including Cripplegate, Aldersgate and Moorgate.

A Mr. Benjamin Blackden bought Cripplegate for £91 – buying the gate ensured demolition, and allowed the person buying the gate to keep a considerable quantity of building material.

The same Benjamin Blackden also paid £91 for Aldersgate and £166 for Moorgate.

On the 2nd of September 1760 newspapers were reporting that “Tuesday, the workmen began to erect scaffold at Cripplegate for pulling down that Gate.”

By the 31st of December, 1760, the Kentish Weekly Post was reporting that “Aldgate is quite pulled down, and Cripplegate is about two thirds down; and Moorgate, Aldersgate and Bishopsgate are to be pulled down forthwith.”

Demolition of the gate was completed in early 1761, and Wood Street then provided open access from the City to the northward expansion of London.

Lady Eleanor Holles School and Cripplegate are two lost features of Cripplegate Ward. Both very different, and in different periods of the Ward’s long history.

They have both left their mark in that the school is still functioning today, although in west London rather than the centre of the city, and Cripplegate, one of the City’s gates within the Roman Walls, that appears to have been named after an Anglo-Saxon word for a defensive, covered way, has left its name to one of the City’s most interesting wards.

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Hungerford Bridge and Hungerford Market

My father took the following photo of Hungerford Bridge from the south bank in 1947:

Hungerford Bridge

The same view in 2022:

Hungerford Bridge

The photos are seventy five years apart, and as could be expected the core of the bridge is much the same now as it was in 1947.

There are some minor differences. The brick structure above the pier on the right was missing in 1947, although its appearance today may suggest it is part of the original structure.

Two signal gantries can be seen above the tracks in 1947, and on the left of the bridge the entrance to Charing Cross Station can just be seen, where today, the 1991 office block, Embankment Place, above the station is the major feature at the end of the bridge.

The white structures along the length of the bridge in the 2022 photo support the Golden Jubilee Foot Bridge which was completed in 2002. There is a second foot bridge on the other side of the railway bridge, to an identical design.

These foot bridges replaced a single, narrow footbridge that originally ran along the far side of the bridge. It was not that pleasant a foot bridge, always had large pools of water across the walkway after rain, and was often not the route of choice after dark.

Hungerford Railway Bridge was opened in 1864. It was built by the Charing Cross Railway Company to provide a route into the new Charing Cross Station from across the river.

It was not the first bridge on the site, and investigating further reveals the source of the name, a failed market, the original bridge, and a very strange death.

Charing Cross Station was built on the site of the 17th century Hungerford Market, and the site had originally been home to Hungerford House, owned by Sir Edward Hungerford.

The Hungerford family name dates back to at least the 12th century with an early reference to one Everard de Hungerford. The family name came from the Berkshire town of Hungerford, and over the centuries, the family amassed a considerable amount of land and property and became very rich.

Many of the Hungerford’s had key roles in the governance of the country (in  January 1377, Sir Thomas Hungerford was elected speaker of Parliament), and in national events (for example during the Civil War Sir Edward Hungerford was in command of the Parliamentary forces in Wiltshire, where it was reported that he carried out his responsibilities with an unpleasant zeal).

The first record of the Hungerford’s owning a house in the Strand was when Sir Walter Hungerford took up residence in 1422.

The Hungerford’s would own a house in the Strand until the late 17th century, when Sir Edward Hungerford (the nephew of the Civil War Hungerford of the same name) decided to try and create a market to rival the recently opened, nearby, Covent Garden Market.

An Act of Parliament in 1678 granted Sir Edward Hungerford permission to let some of the grounds occupied by Hungerford House for building leases and also to open a market on the site on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. The market opened in 1682.

Despite being in what seemed to be an ideal location, the market was not really a success. It was sold to Sir Christopher Wren and Sir Stephen Fox in 1685 and after their deaths, it was sold on to Henry Wise around the year 1717.

It would stay with Henry Wise and his descendants until 1830.

The following print from 1825 shows the original Hungerford Market:

Hungerford Market

The image at lower left shows the bust that is on the wall of the market building, and the text below names Edward Hungerford and confirms the opening date of 1682. The coat of arms on the right is that of the Hungerford family.

In the above drawing of the market, there is a sign on the building on the right about Watermen. The text below is too small to be readable. This is probably some reference to the stairs and access to the river at the far end of the market.

The following print from 1830 shows a busy market scene, with the River Thames visible in the gap between buildings in the distance.

Hungerford Market

John Rocque’s map of 1746 shows the market between the Strand and the river, and shows Hungerford Stairs running down to the river:

Hungerford Market

As usual, to help with research, I checked newspapers for mentions of the old Hungerford Market. Papers of the 18th and 19th centuries record the numerous accidental and strange deaths that happened across London. I have read hundreds of these and one of the most unusual concerns a worker from Hungerford Market. This is a report from the Ipswich Journal on the 3rd of July, 1725:

“On Sunday Evening, an elderly Man that carried a Basket in Hungerford Market for his Livelihood, was drowned in an excessive Quantity of ‘Strip and go Naked’ alias ‘Strikefire’ alias ‘Gin’, at a notorious Brothel in the Strand; the poor miserable wretch expiring under too great a Dose of that stupefying Benediction.”

I have never heard of “Strip and go Naked” or “Strikefire” as a drink, and assume it was a form of Gin as this was the last alias.

It was with some trepidation that I put the name into Google, and the search results imply that it is now an American drink made out of beer, vodka and lemonade, also a cocktail made from beer, gin, vodka, lime juice, orange juice and grenadine.

Whatever it was in 1725, its description as a “stupefying Benediction” does sound rather appropriate.

18th century newspapers provide a view of the trades within Hungerford Market. These were in the paper for events such as bankruptcy so are not a complete list, but provide an indication: Wine Merchant, Butcher, Slaughter House, Oyster Merchant, Indigo Maker, Ironmonger, Coal Merchant.

As with any location which attracted people, there was also a public house – the Bull’s Head.

During the early decades of the 19th century, the market was becoming rather run down, dirty and surrounded by squalid housing.

The descendants of the Henry Wise, who had owned the building since 1717, sold the land and buildings to the Hungerford Market Company which had been formed in 1830.

The new company believed that by rebuilding, and providing a much improved market environment, the Hungerford Market could be just as big a success as Covent Garden and could also tempt some of the fish trade away from Billingsgate.

The new market buildings were much increased in size compared to the original market. New houses were built alongside, which included a number of pubs. The market buildings pushed the river embankment out by a further 150 feet and a set of stone stairs were constructed down to the river.

The following three prints of the opening ceremony on the 2nd of July, 1833, give an impression of the scale of the new market buildings and the grandeur of the opening, which was intended to give the market a considerable amount of publicity, and attract Londoners from as far afield as possible into the market.

The following print shows the view from the river, with crowds of people in front of the market and on boats on the river.

Hungerford Market

The opening of Hungerford Market was the place to be seen for the fashionable Londoner of 1833 as the following account from the Morning Advertiser on the 3rd of July, 1833 records:

“It having been announced that the opening of this splendid work was to take place yesterday at two o’clock in the afternoon, crowds began to assemble in the forenoon. By the specified hour, the concourse of people which thronged every part of the market, and all places adjoining, whence a view of what was going on could be had, was truly immense.

Of the numbers present it was impossible to form any conjecture which could be depended on. The large hall was most densely crowded with an assemblage of the most respectable kind, including much of the female beauty and fashion of this vast metropolis. The lower quadrangle was no less densely filled with an assemblage of the same class. The same may be said of the space appropriated to stalls and benches, underneath the colonnade. The quadrangle fronting the Strand, being open to all, was literally crammed with human beings. Indeed the open space in that particular part looked like a living mass of human beings.

The pavement on the south side of the magnificent building, which projects into the Thames, was so crowded with persons of all descriptions, that it was next to impossible to move from one part of it to another. The balconies at the top of the building, though a much higher price was demanded for admission to them, were filled with an assemblage of ladies and gentlemen. The view from these balconies was exceedingly interesting. It commanded an extensive prospect of the Surrey hills, and of a very considerable part of London, including a large portion of the Thames. Westminster and Waterloo Bridges were crowded with spectators, as were the tops of a great many houses in the neighbourhood of Hungerford-market.

The river was a most interesting scene; it was covered with boats, all as full as a regard to safety could justify. The coal barges in the neighbourhood of the market were so numerous and so close and so well filled that one could scarcely persuade himself they floated on water.

Taken altogether, we should say, it is very seldom indeed that so many human beings are congregated together.”

The following print shows the main attraction during the opening of Hungerford Market, a balloon ascent:

Hungerford Market

And the following print shows the balloon taking of from the quadrangle of Hungerford Market.

Hungerford Market

The balloon was piloted by George Graham, a prolific 19th century balloonist, who took two passengers with him in the basket.

The balloon took of at 4:30 in the afternoon. It went straight up for about sixty feet before heading in a south-easterly direction. Those in the basket waved their hats to cheers from the crowd as the balloon gained height.

By the time it had been up for 20 minutes it was described as being as small as a kite and after 30 minutes it was all but invisible, as it headed in the direction of Gravesend.

George Graham undertook many flights during the first half of the 19th century, and his wife was also a balloonist.

Margaret Graham was the first British woman to undertake a solo balloon flight, when in 1826 she took off from White Conduit Gardens in Islington, the location of her first flight with her husband just a couple of years before.

Individually, the couple would have a number of accidents. In one flight in 1838 George’s balloon hit a chimney on take off causing bricks to fall on an onlooker who died as a result. In a flight with his wife in 1851, the basket hit a rooftop just after launch causing him to fall from the basket and sustaining serious injuries.

In 1836, Margaret sustained serious injuries when during landing, her passenger stepped too early from the basket causing the balloon to rise, and Margaret to fall from a height.

In 1850 she suffered serious burns when a balloon caught fire.

George and Margaret had three daughters and the couple got them involved with ballooning. In 1850 Margaret flew with her three daughters causing something of a public outcry for taking all her children with her on what was considered a dangerous activity.

Despite having taken part in very many balloon flights Margaret died peacefully in her bed in 1880 at the age of 76.

Back to the opening of Hungerford Market, and in the evening there were fireworks and a ball was held which was “numerously and fashionably attended, and was kept up till a late hour with great spirit”.

The market buildings cost around £100,000 to build, and were expected to be a considerable success and rival Covent Garden and Billingsgate. At opening, all the market space had been rented out.

In the main hall, shops on the eastern side sold fruit and vegetables, butchers, selling meat, poultry and animal food took shops on the western side. There were large cellars and store rooms beneath the building and space for a large number of fish mongers. Space was provided for small traders with benches and stalls.

To try and tempt customers to the market, steam boats were run from east and west London along the Thames to the river stairs at the market. The market had one final trick to tempt what they called “the housewives of Lambeth and Southwark” to the market, and that was a bridge.

Hungerford Bridge

The above and below prints show the Hungerford Suspension Bridge which was opened to provide direct access to the market from the south bank of the river, and to provide another route over the river, as compared to cities such as Paris, London was believed to have too few bridges.

Hungerford Bridge

The bridge was designed by Sir Isambard K. Brunel and consisted of four individual chains running the length of the bridge, with two brick piers providing support for the chains.

The bridge was a considerable financial success. In their 1845 report for the first year of operation, the Directors recorded that tolls to cross the bridge raised £9,000 in a year. When the bridge was built it was expected that the daily traffic would be about 8,000 people, however after opening the bridge was attracting nearly 14,000 people.

The success of the bridge was such that the Board decided to pay the Directors £500 for their services to the company.

In a sign of what was to come, at the Board meeting in 1845, the Directors agreed to lease the bridge to the Central Terminus Rail Company for a fee of £186,000.

In the 1830s / 1840s, the area around Hungerford and Waterloo Bridges was being seen as a location for a railway terminus that would service the south east and south of the country, and connect into London Bridge – a subject way out of the scope of today’s post.

An interesting print from 1850 about flooding caused by a high tide shows some of the advertising for the Hungerford Bridge. The following print shows flooding in Vine Street which once ran where the Shell Centre building now stands on the South Bank, up to York Road. A large banner across the street directs people to the bridge, with another sign on the side of the terrace of houses towards the end of the street on the right:

Vine Street flooding

The south bank, being part of low lying Lambeth Marsh was subject to frequent flooding at high tides as shown in the print.

In the following extract from the 1894 Ordnance Survey map, I have ringed the location of Vine Street (‘Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland“):

Vine Street

Despite the optimistic opening, steam boats bringing customers from along the river and the bridge to tempt customers from south London, the market was not a success.

In 1851 a Hungerford Hall was built on part of the site for lectures and exhibitions, however this building burnt down during an accident when lighting gas lamps. The fire also caused damage to the main market hall.

The market would close by the end of the 1850s.

Plans for new railways and stations had been developing during the mid 19th century, and the entire site of the market was purchased by the Charing Cross Railway Company in order to construct Charing Cross Station.

The station would serve as a terminus of a route from the south of the river, therefore a new bridge was needed, and this resulted in the demolition of the original Hungerford Bridge. The railway bridge was approved by the 1859 Charing Cross Railway Act, and construction of the new bridge started in 1860.

Charing Cross Station (and therefore the bridge) opened on the 11th January 1864, and quickly became a busy rail route between south and north sides of the river.

Demolition of the bridge was not the end for parts of the original suspension bridge.

One of Brunel’s projects had been the Clifton Suspension Bridge. This had run into delays and financial problems and Sir John Hawkshaw and William Henry Barlow took over construction of the bridge as consultant engineers, working to complete the bridge.

They were aware of the demolition of the Hungerford Bridge, and to help with the financial difficulties in completing the Clifton Suspension Bridge, they purchased the chains and ironwork from the original Hungerford Bridge for £5,000.

Many of these chains still remain, and look out on a very different view than when they spanned the River Thames (see my post on the Clifton Suspension Bridge and my visit to the hidden chambers beneath the bridge in this post):

Clifton Suspension Bridge

As well as some of the chains still being in use, the core of the piers from the first bridge were used in the construction of the piers for the new railway bridge.

The new Hungerford Railway Bridge initially provided a route for pedestrians across the river, with two footpaths on either side of the bridge. A toll of a half penny was charged up to 1878.

Initially the bridge provided four tracks across the river, however this was later widened to six tracks by the removal of the pedestrian routes, which were moved to a pedestrian way along the outside of the bridge.

The pedestrian route alongside the bridge as it appeared in the early 1950s:

Hungerford Bridge footbridge

The entrance to Charing Cross Station as it appears today:

Charing Cross Station

The ornate construction in the forecourt is a reconstruction (not a replica) of the Eleanor Cross that was located nearby and destroyed in 1647. The original Eleanor Cross was one of several built across the country in the late 13th century to mark the route when the body of Queen Eleanor was carried from Nottinghamshire for burial in Westminster Abbey.

Although the main market buildings were very slightly further back from the front of the above building, they were built on the site of part of the building, the station concourse and the platforms down to roughly where Villiers Street is today, with the steps extending down into the river. The later construction of the Embankment pushed further into the river

The following postcard shows Charing Cross Station as it appeared at the turn of the 19th / 20th century when the main building served the planned purpose of a hotel. Designed by Edward Middleton Barry in the French Renaissance style and which became one of the most fashionable hotels in London. Barry also designed the cross in the station forecourt:

Charing Cross Station

Plans for the reconstruction of London after the war proposed demolishing bridges such as Hungerford Bridge and routing rail traffic in tunnels, however there was no way in which this could be financially justified and the plans did not progress further than a paper proposal.

Hungerford Bridge now stands as a reminder of a centuries old family name, who had a house off the Strand in the 15th century, a site which became a market and is now occupied by Charing Cross Station.

All prints in this post are from the British Museum collection and reproduced under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) license.

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