Cheapside, London, 1880:
It’s fair to say that if a traveler from the 180’s was to arrive on Cheapside today, the only thing he would recognise would be St Mary-Le-Bow church.
Gone are all the old buildings like these, replaced by tall cliff faces of beige concrete and dark glass.
The 1880’s cheapside is a stark contrast to the plain thoroughfare of today; I could spend quite a while looking at the Victorian picture and come away still feeling as though there was something I’d missed, whereas if you were to look at a picture of modern-day Cheapside, there is, on the whole, nothing of great interest building-wise.
A particular highlight for me on the 1880’s picture is, of course, Number 73. The ground floor of which is the shop Mead and Deverell. Zooming in reveals so much detail. Text above the shopfront windows advertises Rocking-Horses, Perambulators, what looks like Archery, and another word I can’t quite decipher.
Above the shop is an Orphan Working School, above that is a dentist, and the very top floor is to let; I imagine there were many varied noises coming from that building…
Next door on the left is E.G Wood, an optician. Unlike number 73, This business takes up the entire building, and has wonderful huge pairs of glasses both half way up, and right at the top of the building.
A year before this photograph was taken Charles Dickens Junior wrote on Cheapside in his Dickens’ Dictionary of London;
“Cheapside remains now what it was five centuries ago, the greatest thoroughfare in the City of London. Other localities have had their day, have risen, become fashionable, and have sunk into obscurity and neglect, but Cheapside has maintained its place, and may boast of being the busiest thoroughfare in the world, with the sole exception perhaps of London Bridge.”