Category: River Thames

My lovely London street directory, Mile end road & the Isle of Dogs in maps

I am sort of overstepping my mark by making this a blog about the Isle of Dogs. The main reason is to flag up a site which I am nothing like, but I do things differently. If you want to see how to use maps in a brilliant manner, visit the Isle of Dogs blog ; it is pretty special; and I want a reminder of this blog. Mick is one of my contributors to the pub site.

Back onto my lovely London directory. I have been using it masses today. As I am working on some of the earlier records. e.g. in 1805 and 1820s, a street directory for 1832 comes in real handy.

Also, I was having a quick scan of the Whitechapel 1841 census earlier. My god, how easy was that to work out what pub a person was in, when I also had the 1842 street directory to compare with. Do you know what, I think I have finally cracked it, and all without maps so far – that’s the next bit to do.

As my usual aside, my wife came running downstairs with her laptop to show me St Marks square in Venice today. It is flooded massively, I think 150 centimetres of rain was mentioned! That’s five feet! It was a whole lot drier last week.

What else, oh yes, the Kings Head in Mile end road at 230; now just a kebab shop. After following some of the links from the London 1832 street directory, and also noting quite  a bit of early research added to the pub, I am now almost 100% certain this was previously the Weavers Arms, and goes back to  about 1823 with additional earlier pubs added for the same licensee.

I am now off to watch Paddington station on Channel 5, brilliant.


Spitalfields, Gravesend, Venice & London 1842 directory

Lots to report in this new post. I took a short trip to Venice, the Italian version, and had a wonderful break for a few days. During this time, I started to read a rather brilliant historical book by Dan Cruickshanks on Spitalfields. I had a book token to use, and this book took my fancy! It is rather excellent so far, and more.

I did not know that Spital comes from the word hospital, apparently it does. The book on Spitalfields is quite heavy reading, and more a textbook rather than a light read. That’s OK, it is pretty brilliant so far, after about the first few chapters. Interestingly, amongst the credits are a favourite of mine, Sarah Wise; and also the Spitalfields Life website and many more.

A quick aside, my wife and I had a long, drawn out discussion about the words utmost & upmost; we both use different words, as we were both unaware of the other word. Look these words up if you want to know the general outcome!

Once home from a break, I answered an interesting email on Gravesend. It took me two days of my research time to update Gravesend pub history in about 1851. For the record, Gravesend is not in London, it is fairly near, but in Kent on the southern borders of the River Thames. It made a splash in the news recently because of a Beluga whale from the Arctic spending some time here.

Finally, I am back to updating the London street directory for 1842 / 1832 etc. By tomorrow, all of the letter B should be complete with 1842 street directory images, e.g. Brook street, Ratcliff.



Thames Footpath walk in London 1

Well, as promised, a walk along the River Thames in London.

I used the Thames Path site to print off some of the suggested walks from Tower Hill, i.e. by the Tower of London, and heading east. I decided I would take a walk on Thursday, being retired! Then Friday, but my wonderful wife who is still working,  wanted to come too, so Saturday it was.

A quick c2c trip towards Fenchurch street, and after deciciding NOT to get off at Limehouse to save £5 in the rail fare (a good choice as it was suggested it was at least 39 minutes walk to Tower Hill).

At Fenchurch street, if you know the area,it is a very short walk of two minutes to Tower Hill Underground station on the District line. Then you need to read the guide, or look at the maps, or generally head for the river; we did all of these, and ended up in St Katharines dock, which is a modern  bunch of buildings, a marina for very expensive river craft, and apart from the fact it was probably an expensive place to live, I thought it was probably designed and built by an failure in architects – whatever.


It appears the Queen has been on a night out in London, and got a cab home, leaving the yacht moored in the local council estate

After a short while, we (me) decided to change plans and head for the City, along the embankment. Along past the Tower of London towards Tower Bridge. The Tower bridge is an amazing place to visit as a tourist, as we had discovered in a previous visit. And strangely, there was a Channel 5 program about the bridge that evening. I have recorded this, as it looks rather good.


You can see from the picture of Tower Bridge that the Shard is in the background. The old and the new.

After Tower bridge is London bridge – apparently. I will elaborate more on this comment as we discovered what the various bridges were called, and in some cases we are still not sure.

What does become apparent very quickly is how little we know about London and the River Thames. You can live close by all your life, but it is not until you actually research an area, do you have a better understanding of the overall view.

Looking at the London Bridge as we walked along the embankment :


What was interesting was how much shoreline we could have visited, albeit being low tide. And as you get closer:


And next on to the wobbly bridge. This was the bridge which wobbled so badly they had to close it for a while, and aptly named the Millenium Bridge as that is its proper name, but will alwaysDSCN0337[1] be known as the wobbly bridge!

What is now becoming apparent is the number of ferries which are being incorporated into the London rail network, or TFL. The costs are highlighted transparently at the various boat stations along the Thames; along with timetables etc. It would appear there are a lot more services in the week, and the weekends are  quieter. This seems a shame, seeing the number of tourists who were queueing for this service; maybe they do not want to reduce the boat trips offered by the many private companies who are offering something similar?

Here is one of the many stops, with Backfriars bridge in the background.


London history, London bridges, River Thames etc.

I received a book token earlier in the year for one of my birthdays. I am now retired, although long before my time!

A visit to Chelmsford on a very wet day for other reasons found me in all of the book stores in the City. I found a book by Peter Ackroyd which was selling in one of the major book sellers, at about £25, and just out of interest, I wondered how much cheaper this could be bought in Amazon land.

About a month later, a hard backed book, apparently second-hand, arrived from the USA. The cost was probably a quarter of the book I had seen in the shop previously. I don’t actually know the exact detail, as I don’t have an Amazon account.

As I often profess an interest in rivers and waterways, I quickly gobbled up the opening lines of this new book. The River Thames has 134 bridges, and a number of locks above Teddington. That’s good enough for me. I need to visit all of these bridges, when can I start?

As an aside, my visit to Whitechapel in June cost me £3 in rail fares for a day out.

So, with this detail in hand, how do I visit the Thames, do I drive or take the train?

I did a quick search on walks along the River Thames, and there are a number of footpaths which have been organised and mapped for anyone who wishes to partake in a little leisurely stroll. I am off for the first tomorrow.

Here’s the link for the Thames path – and lots of walks, of which I need many.

I will let you know how I got on.


London 1832 street directory of London

I seem to be getting there slowly, if this makes sense. I cannot believe how long it is taking me to add a solitary street directory of London.

It will be useful once I have added this, and images of the 1842 street directory which give a considerable amount of detail as regards trade details for a street.

I am also adding links from this 1832 directory to the relevant pubs at the time. You can then see where these pubs addresses changed through time as street renaming took place in all of London to remove common street names.

Anyway, I am working through letters C & G at present, and all will be complete soon, mehopes.



Early pub history of London

I have to write this about my research, and others who have helped me in this. The Early pub history of London is continuing to grow in stature.

Basically, what I am saying, is that it is amazing the amount of detail which is now listed on my sites/s on pub history for London and many other areas.

Just find a page, NOT one of the holder pages for the other additional counties, and enjoy the amount of detail listed. It is all very personal to the relevant publican / licensee of an individual address, and I cannot change this; or make it more interesting to others who are not linked to this family.

What the site is slowly starting to list is the proof that these establishments actually existed, and naming bodies in the buildings through that time, and they are usually live bodies. The other main area I am addressing is the old streets that originally existed and were devolved into new areas as they were redeveloped.

I am very keen to endorse the London pub history site as a major development in mapping old street names which no longer exist. I have not worked out how I am going to do this, but it will happen.

Enough for this post.



London River Thames crossings, bridges and tunnels through time

A recent post about Havering riverside touched on the Three Crowns at Rainham marsh, and the fact there was a ferry across the River Thames a long time ago. As I was aware that the RSPB also had a site on the Rainham marsh, near to Wennington, and close to Aveley; I felt a first trip here would be of interest. I was also interested to see if I could find the Three Crowns.

The RSPB site is spectacular, and very well worth a visit. It has a huge visitor centre and many hives for viewing the wildlife. I was fortunate to see a kingfisher feeding nearby, a kestrel looking for prey and a marsh frog that sounded like a duck! I was very impressed with my visit. I was also interested in the trains which seemed to go past, and then disappeared from view after crossing underneath the Dartford crossing (the M25). It turns out that these trains, well some of them, are the Eurostar from Waterloo, which travels via Stratford international, through Dagenham, the marshes, under the M25 and then via a three kilometre Thames tunnel under the River Thames, travels down into Kent and via Ebbsfleet, Ashford International and the Channel Tunnel to France and Belguim.

I now turn my sites onto the actual crossings of the River Thames through history; and in particular the London bridge which for a long period of time, until at least 1750 was the only land crossing of the River Thames. It has been rebuilt many times in its history, the modern bridge being opened about 1973, as the older bridge was sold off to the Americans in 1968, and now lives in Arizona. This bridge was built between 1824 and 1831 and considerable design was necessitated to avoid steep inclines on the northern side of the bridge.

London bridge a design in 1827 showing difficulties with steep ascents

The Mirror of Literature, amusement and instruction –  May 1827 :

“In a very early part of our work, it will be remembered, we gave a design of the New London Bridge, and having subsequently collected much information in relation to this important undertaking, we have still another grand point left, on which are founded the subsequent remarks. It has been proved, that on the completion of the New Bridge, it will be impossible to effect an ascent for a heavily laden vehicle, unless a level street be formed, as represented in the above engraving. Mr. Peter Jeffery, who has projected the important alteration, has favoured us with the following observations, and first very minutely describes the illustration we give of the new street. This view represents a continuation of the new bridge, crossing Upper Thames street by an archway. An approach to Fish street hill is also shown by a curved road leading from the north land arch of the new bridge, and passing by the front of Saint Magnus church. Owing to its curvature, this road has a longer and easier descent than can be obtained by means of a road made in a straight line from the new bridge to Fish street hill. In the act of parliament for building the new bridge, a power is given to purchase the following houses, viz. Nos. 121 to 128, in Upper Thames street, Nos. 1 and 2, on the south side of Lower Thames street, also Fresh wharf, Nos. 119 to 127, on the north side of Lower Thames street, Nos. 23 to 28, on the west side, and Nos 30 to 33, on the east side, of Fish street hill.

Such are purchases which have been deemed necessary for raising the foot of Fish street hill four feet, that the ascent to the bridge may be rendered easier; yet it rests to be objected after all, that this ascent will be as much as twenty one feet in a length of two hundred and thirty; for the centre of the new bridge is about twenty seven feet above the level of Thames street, whilst the land arch of that bridge is about twenty five feet above such level; consequently, after having raised the foot of Fish street hill four feet, according to the plan in progress, the ascent to the land arch of the new bridge will become twenty one feet.

And if all the valuable houses before mentioned should be removed, the steepness would still be such that wagon* heavily laden could scarcely be able to ascend the bridge; wherefore it may prove requisite to purchase additional houses as well in Fish street hill, as in Upper and Lower Thames streets; in other words, it must be recollected that Fish street hill cannot be farther raised without Upper and Lower Thames streets being similarly raised towards the foot of that hill. Moreover it may be doubted if the intended approach to the new bridge can be made commodious in this way, or indeed in any other which does not include land stretching north, rather than cast and west.

The proposition therefore becomes, that none of the houses on Fish street hill and in Upper and Lower Thames streets ought to be removed, excepting those of Messrs. Jones and Co. in Upper Thames street, immediately facing the new bridge; for the money required to buy the property from Upper Thames street to Cannon street will not be more than the cost of purchasing and clearing away the houses already enumerated in Upper and Lower Thames streets and Fish street hill; which is to say, that the proposed level street can generally traverse retired thoroughfares, in which is much vacant ground, and where the present buildings are of inferior value. Pursuing the line from the new bridge to Cannon street, near Miles’s lane, by one from Cannon street to Cornhill, the proposed level street will pass through the present post office, which is crown property, and by giving a double frontage to such part of that office as is not wanted for carrying the proposed level street into effect, the crown may neither gain nor lose, that is, pecuniarily. It will also be proper to purchase and remove two or three houses at the north east corner of Great East cheap, that wagons, as well as heavy carriages of any description, coming from Gracechurch street and going to the Borough, may, in order to avoid the descent of Fish street hill and ascent of the new bridge, turn towards Cannon street, and proceed on the proposed level street.

Let it be observed here, that formerly Saint Magnus church and church yard were detached, whereas now they become attached. This communication can be accomplished by making an embankment of the river from the foot of the new bridge to Fresh wharf. The expense of which will be but trifling, and the object gained be of great importance.

And if a boat stairs should be made, not immediately at the east side of the new bridge, which place would become objectionable from being a great thoroughfare, but at the west end of Saint Magnus church yard, which would be more convenient, and might serve as a landing place for passengers, and wharf for steamboats. Luggage could be housed in the vaults fronting the Thames, conveyed under shelter to Thames street, and forwarded to order, and not incommode the passing above.

A boat stairs at the west side of the new bridge must be peculiarly objectionable to the Fishmongers’ Company, whose liverymen may find that fish is not the only article that comes from Billingsgate. Or shall not the Fishmongers’ Company, upon rebuilding their hall, prefix a handsome edifice of modern architecture, as well as raised on arches, to afford a finer prospect, as having a spacious terrace adorning the new bridge, and inviting the public to enjoy a healthful promenade. New Fishmongers’ Hall, besides, may have a side entrance on a level with the new bridge.

Thus does the proposed level street appear essential, whilst other considerations seem to recommend it for adoption. It must suffice to mention also the increasing population of Surrey and Kent, the actual want of a direct line of communication with the Mansion House, Bank of England, Royal Exchange, Stock Exchange, and Lloyd’s Coffee House.”

Apparently, the second bridge was the Westminster bridge which was opened in November, 1750 although possibly existed by 1740; and much to the annoyance of the watermen who earned their revenue from taking passengers across the river. It is not until you view an early map of 1746 London map that it is apparent the distances between these two bridges!