Victoria Embankment – Before and After:
The above picture here is the Thames-side which is now Victoria Embankment. I’m not sure who the artist is, nor the date of the painting, (my estimate would be that it is 1850’s) but it beautifully shows what the embankment looked like prior to Bazalgette building the wonderful riverside thoroughfare we know today, between 1865 and 1870.
The looming silhouette of St. Paul’s Cathedral can be seen in the distance here, and in the foreground two figures on the bank of the Thames that look suspiciously like Mudlarks.
Mudlarks would spend al their time trudging through the reeking, thick, filthy mud of the riverbank looking for anything the Thames may wash ashore that they could sell on, such as metal – often nails - from the shipyards, but generally, anything of any value would be picked up by these poor folk and thrown in their sack to be sorted later and sold on. (Mayhew’s ‘London Labour and the London Poor’ contains an interview with a thirteen year old Mudlark, should you wish for a deeper insight into their existence)
The building of the Embankments, of course, put an end to Mudlarking in the stretch of river these two boys stand on.
In the next picture, which, again I have no date for, but I’m guessing was taken in the late 1880’s or 1890’s, we see the view has completely changed, with the more familiar promenade we know today, including Cleopatra’s Needle (erected 1878) and the pier.
Lily Elsie (1886-1962), English star of operetta and musical comedy, promoting Erasmic Soap, London, at the time of her starring role in The Count of Luxembourg, Daly’s Theatre, London, 20 May 1911
(photo: Foulsham & Banfield, London, 1911; advertisement from The Play Pictorial, no. 108, vol. XVIII, ‘The Count of Luxembourg’ edition, London, 1911, p. vii)
The Festival of Empire was held at Crystal Palace, south London, during 1911.
Harriett Vernon (1852-1923), English music hall singer and actress as Cammpi in The Japs; or, The Doomed Daimio, a burlesque by Harry Paulton and Mostyn Tedde, first produced at the Prince’s Theatre, Bristol, 31 August 1885 and the Novelty Theatre, London, 19 September 1885. Other members of the cast included Lionel Brough, Willie Edouin, Fred Kaye, Kate James and Alice Atherton.
(photo: unknown, probably London, 1885)
Apples and Matches for Sale, Borough High Street, London, 1887
As we’ve seen in past photographs that I’ve posted here, street trading of this type was extremely common in the nineteenth century.
An excellent but brief semi-fictional account of the life of a cress-seller can be read in Augustus Mayhew’s novel ‘Paved with Gold’ (semi-fictional since much of his source material for that book was his brother Henry’s groundbreaking social study ‘London Labour and the London Poor) in which the main character gets a job selling watercress on the streets.
In this photo we see two non-blurry women sitting on the kerb selling their wares, and a little further down some boardmen, with wooden advertising boards trapped to themselves.
You can also quite nicely see the road surface, and imagine just how loud the wheels of iron and wood would have been as they clattered past on those cobbles!
Asked by the-original-bananadiva
Thanks for your kind words! I’ll bear your request in mind, and if I ever turn anything up, you’ll be the first to know!
To celebrate Andy Murray reaching the final for the second successive year, here is British Edwardian multi Wimbledon winner Dorothea Douglass Lambert Chambers. (Born 1878)
Chambers won the Ladies Wimbledon singles title in 1903, 1904, 1906, 1910, 1911, 1913 and 1914.
She also won the doubles title in 1913, 1919 and 1920, and the mixed doubles in 1919.
She died in 1960.
Ann Street, Birmingham, 1867:
Ann Street no longer exists in Birmingham - at least not under that name. Twelve years after this photo was taken it was split into two streets, with one end being Colmore Row, and the other end opening out onto Victoria Square (where Birmingham City Hall is, which opened in 1879, and which is the reason this street changed)
As such, it is incredibly difficult to say whereabouts this picture was actually taken.
Onto the photo itself; the two things I love the most are the ghostly woman in black on the left stood next to the lamp, creating an almost perfectly stereotypical Victorian image, and the advertising and bills stuck to the building on the right.
Sadly the resolution on this photo is not good enough (either that or its my eyes!) for me to be able to read any of the words.
There really isn’t much i can say about this photograph. It’s one of my favourites (and has been the background image to my Twitter page for a good year)
I just love the casual pose of the boy closest to the camera, and if you zoom in you can see the curious look on the faces of the four small children next to him. The lady in the background may be a parent to some of the kids, or she may merely be a resident, looking to see what’s going on.
Either way, this, simple picture, which at first appears to show so little, is one that I can spend so long looking at and picking up tiny details that may have been previously missed, such as the one boy out of the eleven who has no shoes; (the sixth boy away from the camera) why does he have bare feet? Perhaps he doesn’t know anyone else in the photo and was just passing, and stopped to see what was happening before being asked to pose.
Why are some children in white gowns? What does the graffiti on the boarded up window say?
We will never know the answers, nor who these people were, and possibly not even precisely what part of Ratcliff this is.
Thank heavens, then, that the photographer was on hand to catch it all.
Omnibus, Upper Richmond Road, London, 1895:
Aside from the adverts on the side of this ‘bus, the most striking thing for me about this photograph is the state of the road - I doubt roads on construction sites are as bad as this these days.
On the side of the bus, on the top board, can be seen an advert for Thomas Tilling. Thomas Tilling started business in 1846, buying horses and buses, along with the rights to operate certain London routes with them.
By the mid 1850’s he had 70 vehicles, and by the time of his death in 1893 he had a stable of some four thousand horses.