In seven minutes, you can see the evolution of London, as seen in its road network
, from the Roman port city of Londonium
through the Anglo-Saxon
, Early Georgian
and Late Georgian
, Early Victorian
and Late Victorian
, Early 20th Century
and Postwar London
, set to the scale of the 600 square miles of modern London, though the original city core is a very dense square mile. [more inside]
If you don't like Marcellus Laroon's pictures of London street life in the late 1600s
, perhaps Thomas Rowlandson's "Characteristic Sketches of the Lower Orders"
from 1820 are more to your liking. Moving up in society, take a look at what the fat cat bankers of 1824 wore
, courtesy of Richard Dighton and contrast them with the costumes of the lower orders
as depicted by T. L. Busby in the same year. All found at the Spitalfields Life blog
, which has an uncanny knack for finding these extraordinary depictions of London street life in previous centuries.
Take a fly-through tour of 17th century London!
Six students from De Montfort University have created a 3D representation of London before the Great of Fire of 1666.
The digital model is based on the area surrounding Thomas Farriner's bakery
in Pudding Lane
, where the Great Fire
began. The project is the winning entry in the Off The Map competition
, in which students were invited to build 3D models based on maps at the British Library
London’s coffee craze began in 1652 when Pasqua Rosée, the Greek servant of a coffee-loving British Levant merchant, opened London’s first coffeehouse (or rather, coffee shack) against the stone wall of St Michael’s churchyard in a labyrinth of alleys off Cornhill. Coffee was a smash hit; within a couple of years, Pasqua was selling over 600 dishes of coffee a day to the horror of the local tavern keepers. For anyone who’s ever tried seventeenth-century style coffee, this can come as something of a shock — unless, that is, you like your brew “black as hell, strong as death, sweet as love”, as an old Turkish proverb recommends, and shot through with grit.
London to Brighton, side by side.
"In 1953 the BBC made a point-of-view film from a London to Brighton train. 30 years later it did the same again. And after another 30 years it did so once more." [more inside]
The street photographer I share with you this week was a man born in Great Britain an entire century before Winogrand and Friedlander. His name was John Thomson (1837-1921) and it is known that he traveled the Far East taking photographs during much of the period between 1860-1879. When he returned to London, he began taking documentary photographs of everyday people on the streets of London. Via madamjujujive
"This video has been dramatically enhanced in quality, using modern video editing tools. The film has been motion stabilized and the speed has been slowed down to correct speed (from 18 fps to 24 fps) using special frame interpolation software that re-creates missing frames." Watch corrected and cleaned footage of circa 1900s London and Cork (5 min 35 sec)
Perched high up above the Thames in downtown London
every month this past year a different writer has spent four days living in a replica of the Roi des Belges, the boat Marlow travels up the Congo in Joseph Conrad's The Heart of Darkness
. Each author would write a short text during their stay "which explores London, rivers, the work of Joseph Conrad, or even all three." They would be visited on the last day by a journalist from The Guardian who recorded them reading their essay, poem or short story. Among the poets, historians and novelists were Adonis, Jeanette Winterson, Teju Cole, Michael Ondaatje and Kamila Shamsie. These recordings, each prefaced by a short interview, are all available on the Guardian website, to stream or download. Below the cut there is a link to each recording, with a short description. [more inside]
is an interactive map of every bomb dropped on London during the Blitz.
As you turn eyes to London to watch this year's Olympics, you might be surprised to find out that the City of London
has a population of about 11,000 and is only one square mile. [more inside]
"I'd like my work to be found in a skip, in Southgate or somewhere, in forty years' time". Nick Papadimitriou walks
, as he ventures around London and its fringes. He eschews the term 'psychogeography', preferring the notion of 'deep topography' to describe what he does. The London Perambulator
, a short documentary about his work, was released in 2009
and features Will Self, Iain Sinclair, and Russell Brand talking about his impact on their work. His first book, Scarp
, will be released by Sceptre this summer.
The Brixton Fairies and the South London Gay Community Centre, Brixton 1974-6
"This fascinating story about Brixton’s legendary gay community of the 1970s was posted up on the urban75 bulletin boards
, and thanks to the author Ian Townson, I’m now able to repost an illustrated version, giving a wonderful insight into a long lost part of Brixton life."
Alan Moore and David Lloyd designed it 30 years ago. The V for Vendetta mask appropriated
by Occupy protesters the world over. The Guardian recently
asked Alan what he thought about the masks. Now Channel 4 news takes him into Occupy territory
to face that face. But who is
the true anarchist?
that give a little insight into the history of public transport(ation) in the UK.
, swinging London of 1960s and SOHO bohemian Coffee Bars of London, 1959
. These are a few of the 500+ vintage documentary shorts called "Look at Life" that ran at the Odeon and Gaumont cinemas during the 50s and 60s. (via Dangerous Minds) [more inside]
On the 18th June 1912 workmen burst through the floorboards of a disused London tenement at 30-32 Cheapside and discovered "Probably the most remarkable find ever recovered from British soil."
The stock of an early Stuart
goldsmith - the most astonishing array of precious and semi-precious stones from around the world
- hidden c.1630, The Cheapside Hoard
is the finest collection of Elizabethan jewellery in the world. [more inside]
The London Underground. Every Londoner has used it
, but has everyone really seen it? The old map
is looking a bit dusty. Perhaps its time for Geographic precision
or maybe 3D projection
. If we add bicycles to the map
, is it still an underground? [more inside]
12 London archives – digitised, marked up and tagged – to "create a comprehensive electronic edition of primary sources on criminal justice and the provision of poor relief and medical care in eighteenth-century London".
page is a good place to start browsing. [related]
Between the art nudes and fashion shots, Doug Kim's Chasing Light
photography blog (front page mildly NSFW, archives more-so) is fast becoming a secret museum of photography with examples and insightful quotes from great photographers. One need go back only as far as December for posts on Dennis Hopper's photography
, Mary Ellen Mark's on set photography
, Annie Liebovitz on Hunter S. Thompson
, Jousef Koudelka on The Soviet invasion of Prague
, Robert Frank's visit to London and Wales
, and Akira Kurosawa's group compositions in Seven Samurai
The Victorian Dictionary
: A motley collection of primary source documents and reference materials about Victorian London by historical thriller author Lee Jackson
. Read the 1841 Census
, browse peroid advertisements
, zoom in on the 1881 Pocket Guide to London
or just learn some dirty words.
is a publishing project exploring London radical history. Their website has texts telling us about William Cuffay
, the black Chartist tried and transported for levying war against Queen Victoria; an account of an early instance of women's organised labour struggle
during the 1908 Corruganza box-makers strike; the drunken uproar of the 18th-century elections for the spurious Mayor of Garratt, really putting the 'mock' into 'mock election'; a yeoman farmer in Kett's Great Rebellion of 1549
; the burning of the Albion Mills
; and much more, including some walking tours
to locations linked to radical history in various parts of the metropolis.
Blind Justice..... Sir John Fielding
, 1721-1780, brother of novelist/playwrite Henry Fielding
), was a blind magistrate at the Bow Street court (known as the "Blind Beak
of Bow Street"), home of London's first professional police force, the Bow Street Runners
. [more inside]
charts the history of the black and Asian community in Canning Town, east London, in the 1920s and 1930s. It tells the story of the Coloured Men's Institute and its founder, Kamal Chunchie, a man who can rightly be called east London's first black and Asian community leader. One of the many excellent East London history projects
at Hidden Histories.
One minute and four seconds in London, 1904
. Birkbeck College professor Ian Christie rediscovered
this footage in an archive in Canberra, shot for a travelogue by film pioneer Charles Urban
Forty years ago, Swinging London was yet to swing. Everything was in black and white and, in class-bound Britain, fashion photographers were trades-men – polite, smart, seen but not heard. A new breed of snappers changed all that – Terry O’Neill, Brian Duffy, David Bailey and Terence Donovan. Bailey and Donovan started their careers in the West End studio of the doyen of fashion photographers – John French. [more inside]
is an online image database from the collections of the City of London Libraries and the Guildhall Art Gallery. Images cover the last five centuries. You can search by key word or browse by theme, artist/engraver, person or place. [more inside]
The Exploring 20th century London project
draws on some 8000 items from the Museum of London, Transport Museum, Jewish Museum and the Museum of Croydon. Material includes photos, drawings, posters, artefacts, sound files etc. Browse/search by theme
Tom Vague's History Walk
(PDF downloads) of the Notting Hill district is an evocative roll call of books, films, personalities, restaurants, anecdotes and a timeline strung together to cover the period 1950 to 2005. [whet your appetite inside]
"If you really thought about where you were going and what you were doing you'd either be shit scared or you wouldn't go there. We're shit shovellers. Some of the jobs I do a high percentage of the country would turn around and say: 'Poke that up yer arse mate as far as you can put it.'" The history of London's sewers
. The craptacular sewerhistory.org
. More entries in the Night Haunts series
Jefferson has his Monticello; Washington, Mount Vernon. Now, Benjamin Franklin's only surviving residence, Number 36 Craven Street
, London, opened its doors to the public
. More inside.
is the Theatre Museum
of London's vast online collection of ephemera, containing more than 1500 objects that record the history of the performing arts in Britain since the 1600s. There's lots of goodies, but don't miss the goldmine of fabulous photos
, and prints
Sir John Soane
(1753-1837) was responsible for the design of quite a few of London’s public buildings
(and to some extent, its phonebooths
). His home, now a museum
, is filled to the brim with architectural relics, sculptures, paintings, drawings, stained glass, and assorted curiosities. Almost unchanged since his death, it also contains the gravesite
of his wife’s beloved dog Fanny, a mummified rat, an Egyptian sarcophagus
, and an imaginary monk named Padre Giovanni. Best of all, on the first Tuesday of every month the museum has a candlelight tour which enhances the spooky splendor
of the rooms.
The story of "St. James Infirmary."
You thought it was a piece of old New Orleans? Turns out St. James Hospital was in London (and treated lepers), and the song goes back at least to the 18th century (though it used to be sung to the tune of "Streets of Laredo"). Rob Walker's Letter From New Orleans #13 describes the results of his obsessive researches. If you have more info, he wants to hear from you! (Via Wordorigins
, a site any word lover should know.)
The Bolles Collection on the History of London
at the Tufts University Perseus Digital Library
contains, among other transcripts, the searchable text of all four volumes of the Henry Mayhew's classic 19th century account London Labour and the London Poor
: Volume 1
(costermongers and street-sellers); Volume 2
(more street-sellers, cleansing, and sewer work); Volume 3
(vermin destroyers, street entertainers, labourers, cabbies, vagrants); and the Extra Volume
(vice and beggars). Read of the sellers of fake pornography
; death and fire-hunters
; a depressed street clown
; "pure" (i.e. dog dung) finders
; and more. The past really is another country.
19 Princelet Street
, Spitalfields. A permanent celebration of London
'Described as the nation's answer to the Anne Frank House
in Amsterdam, 19 Princelet Street in London's East End was refuge to hundreds of Jews fleeing persecution from the Nazis.
Disused Stations on the London Underground
- they're there, but we don't see them. This site gives a list of places
to spot glimpses of these mysterious stations, as well as details of stations that were almost built
. Fascinating for a Londoner, and perhaps something to look out for if you plan on visiting the city.