Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Searching for Regency London

First I wanted to offer my sympathy to all those readers and authors in the Brisbane area. I visited Australia two years ago and have friends there. I am devastated watching those news reports and my thoughts are with you all.

London

The next part of my journey involved the River Thames.  An important highway, the City grew up beside it and around it.  We walked from the Tower of London towards the docks.

 One of the first things my guide pointed out was a Thames Barge.

You can just see the red sails. Apparently they were not dyed red, but the preservative used on them turns them red.

Originally, Thames barges and lighters were rowed out from the docks from ships to large to tie up at the warves.  They would bring the goods from ship to shore.

As time went on sails were added and their heyday was around 1900, there being about two thousand working on the river by that time.






This next picture is of Jacob's Island, which you may recall as the setting from Dicken's Oliver Twist

 What you are looking at here is the point at which the River Neckinger meets the Thames at St. Saviour's Dock. While it is now a desirable area, it was once notoriously squalid.

The following pictures from earlier times will help set the picture I think.


This picture from wikipedia shows Neckinger River in 1813, which by the way my guide told me was the term for a noose for a river pirate. Further research revealed the river is believed to be named from the term "Devil's neckcloth.  Until the eighteenth century Thames pirates were excuted at what was then called Neckinger Wharf near the mouth of the inlet. The corpses were displayed further downstream as a deterrent.   

Particularly interesting is the attached map. Hard to read, but fascinating.  If you look closely you can make out Mill Street running parallel and one block to the left from the dock.  Which brings us to the next picture, circa1840.

Folly ditch.  Man made tidal ditches had surrounded Jacobs Island in earlier centuries, a way of getting goods to wharehouses. Over the years they were filled in leaving them land locked with all the attendant evils of stagnant water.
If you want to know more about Jacob's Island, earlier and later than the Regency, I found this website to be fascinating. 

Some books I found useful in preparing for my walks around London.

 Secret London: Exploring the Hidden City, With Original Walks And Unusual Places to Visit

A. to Z. of Regency London At Amazon.com

Or Search for the A-Z of Regency London at Abebooks where you might well find a cheaper version

More to come on the River Thames and its History next time.  Until then, Happy Rambles.