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Sunday, 31 October 2010

A Royal Hallowe'en, Ghosts and Cemeteries of the 19th Century

A somewhat supernatural theme to today’s post with it being Hallowe’en. First of all, if you’ve ever wondered what kind of thing the Victorian Royal Family did for Hallowe’en, wonder no more:

From The Times November 4th 1879:
HALLOWE'EN AT BALMORAL. - On Friday night this festival was celebrated at Balmoral Castle with weird effect. The Queen and Princess Beatrice remained interested spectators till the close. Two large processions, picturesquely attired, met on the Castle lawn, and Princess Beatrice lighted a great bonfire. A body of gorgeously dressed figures with a band of music then appeared. Subsequently a witch was tried and condemned, and an effigy burnt. Afterwards there was a “witch hunt”. The Queen took great interest in the proceedings, which closed with drinking Her Majesty's health and singing the National Anthem. The weather was particularly favourable for full effect being given to display.

Which sounds fun, and is a nice little insight I think. Continuing in the “spirit” of all things spooky, another article from The Times, this time from 1885, relating to the rather comical sounding capture of a ‘ghost’ in Derby;

The Times, September 29th 1885:
CAPTURE OF A GHOST. - For several weeks past considerable excitement has been caused in various outlying districts of Derby by a report that a ghost had been observed. It would appear that a number of young men had been acting the ghost, their modus operandi being to envelope themselves in a white sheet at certain times and to appear and disappear with wonderful rapidity. The effect had been to frighten a number of females and children. Many complaints had been lodged with the police authorities and steps had been taken with a view to arrest the ghosts. On Sunday night at about half-past 9 o'clock a young fellow named Frank Gray, a member of the Derby Volunteers, was proceeding along an out-of-the-way place in the town known as Darley-grove, when he noticed some white object hanging partially over an entrance gate to a field. Gray, without hesitation, advanced and, seizing the ghost, called upon him to say who he was. As he would not speak Gray struck him in the face. Thereupon the ghost threw aside the sheet and pulling out a loaded pistol threatened to shoot him. Gray, however, immediately seized the pistol, and, after fully recognizing the ghost, allowed him his liberty. The police were at once informed of the occurrence, the result being that a lad named Christopher Burrows, 16 or 17 years of age, an errand-boy, was apprehended yesterday morning, charged with presenting the pistol at Gray to prevent his apprehension. The chief constable informed the Bench that this sort of thing had been going on for some weeks and that the police had had no end of trouble in the matter. He was not prepared to go into the case that day and applied for a remand, which was granted
One suspects that if this had been a modern story the “ghost” would have been lucky just to get a punch in the face…
Amidst the horror today, and the reading of such classics by Shelley, Stoker or Stephenson that may be going on, if that kind of literature interests you and you wish to get into the spirit of Victorian stories of horror &c then it’s a good idea to check out Lee Jackson's Victorian London website and have a good read through some of the digitized penny dreadful’s in “The Mysteries of London”, a long running series of shocking tales from the 1840’s by G. W. M Reynolds. (The ones about the Resurrectionists are my favourite) A direct link to the Mysteries of London page is here
Also, a new blog entitled "Therein Hangs a Tale - A Historical Compendium of the Dark and Macabre" has just gone online, the link to which is here and also on the front page of this blog. The first posting explores the terrifying phenomenon of premature burial, or being buried alive - an excellent read for this particular holiday!
And finally, some people find them spooky, some don’t, but often they are portrayed in fiction as haunted places, but I find cemeteries - particularly those of the Victorian "Magnificent Seven" in London I have visited to be extremely peaceful and beautiful places, especially when visited at this time of year when the leaves are changing colour, falling and carpeting the ground. 
I have put links to the websites of each cemetery beneath the descriptions, should you wish to know more or plan a visit. Here are a few Victorian cemeteries.
THE SOUTH METROPOLITAN AND NORWOOD CEMETERY was consecrated Dec. 6, 1837 the chapels, by Tite, in the pointed style, are very beautiful; and the grounds are hilly, and picturesquely planted. South Metropolitan / West Norwood 

HIGHGATE AND KENTISH TOWN CEMETERY, consecrated May 20, 1839, lies immediately below Highgate Church. It has a Tudor gate-house and chapel, and catacombs of Egyptian architecture; the ground is laid out in terraces, tastefully planted; and the distant view of the overgrown Metropolis, from among the tombs, is suggestive to a meditative mind. Highgate

ABNEY PARK CEMETERY and Arboretum, lying eastward, at Stoke-Newington,
was opened by the Lord Mayor, May 20, 1840. It was formed from the Park of Sir Thomas Abney, the friend of Dr. Isaac Watts, to mark whose thirty-six years' residence here a statue of the Doctor, by Baily, R.A., was erected in 1845. The Abney mansion was taken down in 1844; many of the fine old trees remain. Abney Park 

WESTMINSTER AND WEST OF LONDON CEMETERY, Earl's Court, Fulham-road, was consecrated June 15, 1840; it has a domed chapel, with semi-circular colonnades of' imposing design. In the grounds is a large altar-tomb, with athlete figures, modeled by Baily, and erected by subscription, to Jackson the pugilist. Brompton (Formerly Westminster & West London 
(All above from John Timbs’ Curiosities of London, 1867)

THE GLASGOW NECROPOLIS, was intended to be interdenominational and the first burial in 1832 was that of a Jew, Joseph Levi, a jeweller. In 1833 the first Christian burial was of Elizabeth Miles, stepmother of the Superintendent, George Mylne.
After 1860, the first extensions east and south were to take up the Ladywell quarry and in 1877 and 1892/3, the final extensions to the north and south-east were constructed, doubling the size of the cemetery. The Necropolis is now 37 acres (15 ha).

50,000 burials have taken place at the Necropolis and most of 3,500 tombs have been constructed up to 14 feet deep, with stone walls and brick partitions. On the top of the Necropolis tombs were blasted out of the rockface.
In 1877 the Molendinar Burn, running under the Bridge of Sighs, was culverted. This burn in which St Mungo was said to have fished for salmon is now underground on its way to the Clyde. Glasgow Necropolis

BROOKWOOD CEMETERY, In 1850 Parliament ordered the closure of the more crowded churchyards in London, and a search was commissioned for a new site of sufficient size and splendour to serve the burial needs of the Metropolis for at least 500 years. To meet these demanding requirements Brookwood Cemetery was created, and, after incorporation by Royal Act of Parliament in 1852, it acquired more than 2,000 acres of land from the Earl of Onslow just 25 miles from the centre of London at Woking in Surrey.
A distinguishing feature of Brookwood Cemetery was the cemetery railway. The London & South Western Railway was engaged to convey coffins and mourners from a private station adjacent to Waterloo down into the Cemetery. At Brookwood there were two stations, one for the Nonconformist sections, the other for the Anglican areas. The funeral trains stopped running after the private London terminus was bombed in April 1941.

Whatever you are doing this evening, be it visiting atmospheric cemeteries, reading Victorian or modern horror literature or dressing up as ghosts and ghouls (beware local would-be heroes!) have a pleasant Hallowe'en!

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Dreadful Accident on the Tay Bridge...

I feel that most of the posts on this blog so far have been heavily linked to London, as that is my main area of Victorian interest and I live fairly close to the capital. But, today I am spreading my wings a little, and looking into one of the darkest days in the recent history of Scotland – and indeed, Britain – the Tay Bridge Disaster.

When it was built in 1878, the Tay Rail Bridge that spanned the Firth of Tay between Dundee and Wormit in Scotland, was considered a marvel of engineering. Designed by architect, Thomas Bouch, the bridge was fabricated using ten million bricks, four thousand tons of cast iron and fifteen thousand casks of cement.

However, eighteen months after the marvelous bridge opened, on the stormy night of December 28th 1879 the bridge collapsed as a passenger train crossed it, plunging into the freezing Firth of Tay and killing all 75 people on board.

The exact cause of the collapse has never been discovered, though, at the time Bouch – who had received a knighthood upon the bridge’s completion – was heavily criticized for not allowing for strong enough winds when designing the bridge, for allowing poor quality girders to be used in the construction (there was some evidence that imperfect castings were disguised from the (very inadequate) quality control inspection) These were tested for the Inquiry by David Kirkaldy and proved to break at only about 20 long tons rather than the expected load of 60 long tons, causing the entire mid-section of the bridge to become destabilized during the storm and indeed recent research has suggested that the cast iron used on parts of the structure was too soft.

Below is the disaster as reported in The Times the following day:

Dreadful Accident on the Tay Bridge
Loss of Passenger Train
Dundee, Sunday Midnight
To-night a heavy gale swept over Dundee and a portion of the Tay bridge was blown down while a train from Edinburgh due at 7.15 was passing. It is believed that the train is in the water, but the gale is still so strong that a steamboat has not yet been able to reach the bridge. The train was duly signalled from Fife as having entered the bridge at 7.14. It was seen running along the rails, and then suddenly was observed a flash of fire. The opinion was that the train left the rails, and went over the bridge. Those who saw the incident repaired immediately to the Tay-bridge station at Dundee and informed the station master of what they had seen. He immediately put himself in communication with the man in charge of the signal-box at the north end of the bridge. The telegraph wires are stretched across the bridge, but when the instrument was tried it was soon seen that the wires were broken.
Mr. Smith, the station-master and Mr. Roberts, locomotive superintendent, determined, notwithstanding the fierce gale, to walk across the bridge as far as possible from the north side, with the view of ascertaining the extent of the disaster. They were able to get out a considerable distance, and the first thing that caught their eye was the water spurting from a pipe which was laid across the bridge for the supply of Newport, a village on the south side, from the Dundee reservoirs. Going a little further, they could distinctly see by the aid of the strong moonlight that there was a large gap in the bridge caused by the fall, so far as they could discern, of two or three of the largest spars. They thought, however, that they observed a red light on the south part of the bridge, and were of the opinion that the train had been brought to a standstill on the driver noticing the accident. This conjecture has, unfortunately, been proved incorrect. At Broughtyferry, four miles from the bridge, several mail bags have come ashore, and there is no doubt that the train is in the river. No precise information as to the number of passengers can be obtained, but it is variously estimated at from 150 to 200.
The Provost and a number of leading citizens of Dundee started at half-past 10 o'clock in a steam-boat for the bridge, the gale being moderated; but they have not yet returned.
Monday, 1.30 A.M.
The scene at the Tay-bridge station to-night is simply appalling. Many thousand persons are congregated around the buildings, and strong men and women are wringing their hands in despair. On the 2d of October 1877, while the bridge was in course of construction, one of the girders was blown down during a gale similar to that of to-day, but the only one of the workmen lost his life. The return of the steamboat is anxiously awaited.
The Times, 29th December 1879

In an enquiry held to establish the cause of the collapse, clear evidence was heard that the central structure had been deteriorating for months before the accident. The maintenance inspector, Henry Noble, claims that he heard the joints of the wrought-iron tie-bars "chattering" a few months after the bridge opened in June 1878, a sound indicating that the joints had loosened. Noble did not attempt to re-tighten the joints, but hammered shims (thin sheets) of iron between them in an attempt to stop the rattling.
However, the problem continued until the collapse of the High Girders. It indicated that the centre section was unstable to lateral movement, something observed by painters working on the bridge in the summer of 1879. Passengers on north-bound trains complained about the strange motion of the carriages, but this was, apparently, ignored by the bridge's owners, the North British Railway.

Tay Bridge Today
The Lord Provost of Dundee had reportedly timed trains on the bridge, and found they were travelling at about 40 mph – well in excess of the official limit of 25 mph.

The enquiry destroyed Bouch's professional reputation, and the contract for the new Forth Bridge was awarded to William Arrol & Co. using designs by Benjamin Baker and John Fowler. Bouch died within a year of the disaster.
To this day, the collapse of the Tay Bridge remains the worst structural disaster in British history, and the lessons learned from it proved a major influence on the way bridges were built afterwards – particularly the replacement Tay Bridge which was built alongside the remains of the original – and the much larger Forth Rail Bridge near Edinburgh.

On the picture above can be seen the re-built Tay Bridge, the foundations of the old bridge run alongside the new in a fitting tribute to its predecessor.

The last word on this subject I will allow to the Scottish poet William McGonagall, who, in 1880 wrote a poem about the tragedy. Although he states there were 90 victims, there were only 75.

The Tay Bridge Disaster

Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silv'ry Tay!
Alas! I am very sorry to say
That ninety lives have been taken away
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember'd for a very long time.

'Twas about seven o'clock at night,
And the wind it blew with all its might,
And the rain came pouring down,
And the dark clods seem'd to frown,
And the Demon of the air seem'd to say-
"I'll blow down the Bridge of Tay."

When the train left Edinburgh
The passengers' hearts were light and felt no sorrow,
But Boreas blew a terrific gale,
Which made their hearts for to quail,
And many of the passengers with fear did say-
"I hope God will send us safe across the Bridge of Tay."

But when the train came near to Wormit Bay,
Boreas he did loud and angry bray,
And shook the central girders of the Bridge of Tay
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember'd for a very long time.

So the train sped on with all its might,
And Bonnie Dundee soon hove in sught,
And the passengers' hearts felt light,
Thinking they would enjoy themselves on the New Year,
With their friends at home they lov'd most dear,
And wish them all a happy New Year.

So the train mov'd slowly along the Bridge of Tay,
Until it was about midway,
Then the central girders with a crash gave way,
And down went the train and passengers into the Tay!
The Storm Fiend did loudly bray,
Because ninety lives had been taken away,
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember'd for a very long time.

As soon as the catastrophe came to be known
The alarm from mouth to mouth was blown,
And the cry rang out all o'er the town,
Good Heavens! the Tay Bridge is blown down,
And a passenger train from Edinburgh,
Which fill'd all the peoples hearts with sorrow,
And made them for to turn pale,
Because none of the passengers were sav'd to tell the tale
How the disaster happen'd on the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember'd for a very long time.

It must have been an awful sight,
To witness in the dusky moonlight,
While the Storm Fiend did laugh, and angry did bray,
Along the Railway Bridge of the Silv'ry Tay,
Oh! ill-fated Bridge of thSilv'ry Tay,
I must now conclude my lay
By telling the world fearlessly without the least dismay,
That your central girders would not have given way,
At least many sensible men do say,
Had they been supported on each side with buttresses,
At least many sensible men confesses,
For the stronger we our houses do build,
The less chance we have of being killed.

For a far more detailed and informative read about the disaster, see this website, which gives lots of details about the investigation too.

Also, if you prefer to read upon paper than on screen, then try these:

High Girders: Tay Bridge Disaster, 1879 by John Prebble,

The Bridge is Down: Dramatic Eye-witness Accounts of the Tay Bridge Disaster: of 1879 as Reported in Transcripts of the Public Enquiry by Andre Gren,

Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silvery Tay: Reinvestigating the Tay Bridge Disaster of 1879  by Peter R Lewis

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Victorian Photography Addendum:

After my post here a few days ago about the Victorian photographer Julia Margaret Cameron, I got reading a bit of Mayhew and stumbled across a passage about a
Victorian street photographer.
I thought it would make a nice post script to the Cameron article, so I’ve reproduced it here for anyone with an interest in that kind of thing:

Henry Mayhew: A Street Photographer’s Story.

Mayhew approaches the photographic studio where a tout at the door was crying out ‘Hi! Hi! Walk inside! Walk inside! Have your correct likeness took, frame and glass complete, and only sixpence!’

"I’ve been at photographic-portrait taking since its commencement – that is to say, since they were taken cheap – two years this summer. I lodged in a room in Lambeth, and I used to take them in the back yard – a kind of garden.
I took a blanket off the bed and used to tack it on a clothes horse. My mate used to hold it, if the wind was high, whilst I took the portrait.
The reason why I took to photographing was, I thought I should like it better than busking with a banjo. I didn’t know anything about photographs then, not a mite, but I saved up my money and got a loan of three pounds, and managed to get a complete apparatus for taking pictures and opened the next day.

I never knew anything about portraits then, though they showed me when I bought the apparatus (but that was as good as nothing, for it takes months to learn). The very next day when I had the camera, I got a customer before I had even tried it out. So I tried it on him, but I didn’t know how to make the portrait, and it was all black when I took the glass out. I told him that it should come out bright as it dried, and he went away quite delighted. The first Sunday after we had opened I took one pound five shillings and sixpence, and everybody was quite pleased with their spotted and black pictures, for we still told them they would come out as they dried. But the next week they brought them back to be changed. By then I could do them better, and they had middling pictures – I picked it up very quick.
When I bought my camera at Fleming’s the owner took a portrait of me with it to show me how to use it, and as it was a dull afternoon he took 90 seconds to produce the picture. So, you see, when I went to work I thought I ought to let my pictures go the same time; and hang me if I didn’t, whether the sun was shining or not. I let my plates stop 90 seconds, and of course they used to come out overdone and quite white, and as the evening grew darker they came better. When I got a good one I was surprised, and that picture went miles to be shown about. Then I formed an idea that I’d made a miscalculation as to my time, and by referring to the sixpenny book of instructions I saw my mistake, and by the next Sunday I was very much improved, and by a month I could take a very tidy picture.

Sunday is the best day for shilling portraits; in fact, the majority is shilling ones, because then, you see, people have got their wages, and don’t mind spending. Nobody knows about men’s ways better than we do. The largest amount I’ve taken at Southwark on a Sunday is over four pounds’ worth, but then in the week days its different; some days only three or four shillings.
We are obliged to resort to all sort of dodges to make sixpenny portraits pay. I always take the portrait on a shilling size; and after they are done, I show them what they can have for a shilling, the full size, with the knees; and table and vase on it, and let them understand that for sixpence they have all the background and legs cut off. So as many take the shilling portraits as sixpenny ones.

Another of our dodges is the brightening solution, which is nothing more than aqua distilled, or pure water. When we take a portrait, Jim, my mate, takes it and finishes it up, drying it and putting it up in its frame. Then he wraps it up in a large piece of paper, so that it will take some time to unroll it, at the same time crying out to me, ‘Take sixpence from this lady, if you please.’ Sometimes she says ‘Oh, let me see it first;’ but he always answers, ‘Money first, if you please ma’am; pay for it first, and then you can do what you like with it. Here, take sixpence from this lady.’ When she sees it, if it is a black one, she’ll say, ‘Why this ain’t like me; there’s no picture at all.’ Then Jim tells her that if she likes to have it passed through the brightening solution, it comes out lighter in an hour or two.

They in general agree to have it brightened; and so then, before their face, we just dip it into some water. We then dry it off and replace it in the frame, wrap it up carefully, and tell them not to expose it to the air, and in an hour or two it will be all right. Sometimes, they brings them back the next day, and says, ‘It’s not dried out as you told us.’ And then we take another portrait and charge them more.

If the eyes in a portrait are not seen, and they complain, we take a pin and dot them; and that brings the eye out. If the hair, too, is not visible, we takes the pin again, and soon puts in a beautiful head of hair. It requires a deal of nerve to do it; but in the end they generally go off contented and happy. Once a sailor came in, and as he was in haste, I shoved onto him the picture of a carpenter who was to call in the afternoon for his portrait. The jacket was dark, but there was a white waistcoat; still I persuaded him that his blue Guernsey had come up very light, and he was so pleased that he gave us ninepence instead of sixpence. The fact is, people don’t know their own faces. Half of ‘em never looked in a glass half a dozen times in their life, and directly they see a pair of eyes and a nose, they fancy they are their own.”

Here, from the Jeremy Paxman BBC documentary series (which explores the art of the Victorians that I mentioned in my Richard Dadd post), is a video clip showing the process of Victorian photography as explained by the owner of what looks a wonderful shop. You can watch the clip on YouTube here  

Sunday, 24 October 2010

The Victorian Lamplighter

Reading about Victorian England through other people’s memories is always a nice way to soak up information about the period. Much as I like the factual books such as Liza Picard’s excellent and seminal book “Victorian London” I think the devil is in the detail, and reading pieces by people who were actually there gives a different perspective of the time.
The book “A London Child of the 1870’s” by M.V Hughes is a good example, but this week I have been thumbing through the H.V Morton book “Ghosts of London”, which is not a book of ghost stories set in London, but a book of memories of people and events that no longer take place in the capital. These people and events are the “Ghosts” in the book.

There’s plenty of interesting little chapters in this little book about things the author used to see, but for today I have chosen the chapter on the Lamplighter purely for the fact that only a few weeks ago I was reading about them and acquired a nice little bit of trivia on the subject of lamps which is probably common knowledge, but intrigued me, and I shall repeat it here;

A lot of street lamps still have a horizontal bar protruding from the top just below the actual lamp. This bar was for the lamplighter to rest his ladder against as he climbed up to light the gas lamp with his light.

Onto the article:

The Lamplighter:

The lamplighter, with his pole on his shoulder, is already among the ghosts of London. Sometimes, when I look from my window in the evening, I see him emerge from a side street and disappear beneath an old archway.
He is more than ever like a ghost, because there is not a lamp in sight that he could reach with his pole, were it ten times as long. Those lamps are all tall, modern lamps that are lit up by time-clocks or from a main. Still, the lamplighter crosses this street in the evening on some mysterious mission.

I wonder how many people feel, as I do, an affection for lamplighters that dates from the earliest years of childhood. I remember what it felt like to wait, pressing my face against the window-pane, for the moment he would come with a leisurely stride, leaving little stars and pools of yellow behind him; and what a lovely moment it was when he would pause opposite and life his pole to bring the lamp to life.
In bed at night in a silent house, the memory of that little pool of gold was somehow infinitely consoling before one fell asleep, and, in the stillness of a night of ugly dreams, what could be more comforting than to hop out of bed and see the lamp burning there, so still and calm, so brave in the dark.

Robert Louis Stephenson is the only poet who has remembered how romantic a lamplighter could be to a child watching for him at the window; and every time I read his Child’s Garden of Verse I am a small boy again, with my eyes on the window.

For we are very lucky with a lamp before the door,
And Leerie stops to light it as he lights so many more;
And O! before you hurry by with ladder and with light,
O Leerie, se a child and nod to him to-night.

As I was walking the other evening in a street not far from Westminster Abbey, I saw twelve men approach a shed, and draw from it, one after the other, lamplighter’s poles. I watched them with some curiosity for I had not seen such a sight for years. They took my mind back to a time when every street had its lamplighter. Twelve Leeries with their poles across their shoulders setting out to light the lamps of London!
‘There’s not many of us stick lighters left,’ one of them told me. ‘Most of the lamps nowadays are turned on automatically. But, here and there, a few of us still muster of an evening. Yes, “muster’s” the name we give it. They’ve changed the lamps, the torches we carry, the standards, the system of booking, and pretty well everything, but the old-fashioned muster still goes on. We’re the last of the old brigade.’
‘How long have you been lighting lamps?’ I asked him.
‘I’m one of the few left who used to light the old flat-flamed burners, and they were done away with about thirty-five years ago. I can remember Fulham being lit with flat flames. I remember too, what it was like to light them. You tipped your lever up and your by-pass touched the gas, but-what a rotten light it was, although we thought it wonderful in those days!
‘Thieves could knock you down and get away between this lamp and the next. Terrible rough times they were, those old days! I remember Tufton Street, Westminster, when it was a regular bear garden and you never liked to go down it of a Friday with your pay in your pocket. Lumme, the fights I’ve seen down there! There was one Sunday called “Bloody Sunday”; and it was, too.
‘But I must be getting along, it gets dark so quickly this time of year. I light my lamps about four o’clock, and I’m up at about six to put them out in the morning. Of course, it gets later and earlier, if you know what I mean.’
‘How many lamps do you light?’
‘A hundred and twenty. Great George Street, Petty France, Queen Anne’s Gate, and all round there. It’s about a five mile walk night and morning…’
And ‘Mr Leerie’ shouldered his torch and set off into the February dusk.

He interested me so much that I went to the offices of the Gas Light and Coke Company in the Horseferry Road, and asked some questions about lamplighters. This company has been supplying gas to London since 1812, when the gas was regarded by many as an invention of the devil.
Londoners may be surprised to know that a number of the most famous streets in the city are lit, not by electricity, but gas. Whitehall, Pall Mall, Parliament Square, Regent Street, Piccadilly (from the Circus to Albemarle Street) Victoria Street, are all gas-lit. Chelsea is a stronghold of gas. The company supplies gas to six counties and deals with eighty-four municipal authorities. The official who greeted me in the Horseferry Road pointed to a map of his area and told me that his first lamp was at Windsor and his last within half a mile of the sea at Shoeburyness.
I wish all businesses contained men with his sense of history and romance.
In ten minutes we were talking about the history of gas, discussing Rowlandson’s skits on the first gas-lamps, laughing at the sermons which parsons preached against gas, and then, by leaps and bounds, we approached modern gas, at which point my friend showered publicity handbooks on me, told me how much better gas was than electricity, edging his chair nearer and nearer, his eyes blazing with such fervid conviction that, at the end of it, I was almost willing to ask for a corps of men to tear down my wretched electric lights and install gas instead.

At this point, I think, we fortunately went out to lunch. After lunch I amassed an enormous and variegated mass of information about gas. I began to feel mentally gassed. My head was within the oven of his enthusiasm, but, by a supreme effort of will, I managed to take a breath of air and shout: ‘I want to know about lamplighters!’
‘Lamplighters?’ he cried. ‘Whatever do you want to know about lamplighters for? Never mind, I’ll tell you about them.’
He consulted some papers from a drawer of his desk; ‘There are,’ he said, ‘four hundred and twelve stick lamplighters left, but not all of them in London. Of this number, thirty-one are men who used to light the old fish-tail, flat-flame burners. They work hard and they are very good fellows. They have to clean the lamps as well as light them. There are stick lighters who light lamps with torches, and there are clock lighters who set the automatic clocks that regulate the lamps. The stick lighters think the clock men have the better job; but it’s a matter of opinion.
‘Now, the old-fashioned stick lighter is being gradually superseded by the clock lighter, and you are quite right when you call the stick lighter a ghost of London. He is a vanishing type. He was always a popular character in the old days; and still is so, when anybody notices him. One old lamplighter told me that he always gets a pound of pork sausages at Chistmas-time from a butcher on his beat, and another one told me that certain houses never forget him on boxing day. That is a relic of the old times. That’s all I can tell you about lamplighters.’

I was about to thank him, but he wagged a finger at me and went on:
‘Now if you really want to see some queer ghosts of London, come with me. I guarantee to show you some things that few people know anything about. Did you know, for instance, that the base of one lamp post in London is an old ship’s cannon? No. I thought you didn’t! are you ready?’
I had some vague intention of putting him off, but, catching the crusading fire in his eye, I meekly followed him.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Julia Margaret Cameron - Victorian Photographer

A few months ago whilst researching Victorian England between 1860 and 1875, a name cropped up that intrigued me, and that name was Julia Margaret Cameron. I noted that she was a pioneering female photographer, and being interested in both Victoriana AND photography, my interest was piqued.
Julia Margaret Cameron
Photography was born in the late 1830’s when, in England, Henry Fox-Talbot, and in France, Louis Daguerre (after whom the daguerreotype is named) took photographs for the first time. Between then and the 1850’s, photography moved on in leaps and bounds as various techniques were discovered, such as the calotype process (read about here ) and the stereoscopic viewer (the fore-runner of 3D imagery) these were perfected and then bettered, until in 1888 the Kodak box camera brought photography to the general public, and the holiday snap was born.

Trawling through Victorian photography is incredibly interesting I think. Every picture is a snapshot into a life or an event, and gives us a glimpse into the past like no other period of history, which is one of the reasons I love the Victorian period so much – its close enough to almost touch because of, in large part, the photography, and yet, its almost a hundred and ten years in the past.

Amongst these photographs that we can see that show us the everyday of the 19th century, are photographs that are closer to being art than just glimpses through the windows of the past, and for me, no photographer’s work demonstrates this like the often-haunting work of Julia Margaret Cameron.

Despite not coming to photography until she was forty-eight years old in 1864, the art was still young enough for Cameron to develop her own distinctive style of mixing photography with fantasy – often relating to Arthurian legend, and also her distinctive close-cropped portraits. As far as careers’ go, Cameron’s photographic career was short, lasting only eleven years, but in that time she produced some stunning work, including portraits of Charles Darwin, J.F.W Herschel and Julia Prinsep Jackson – her niece, and mother to Virginia Woolf.

Using soft focus, she captured beautiful pictures that she clearly held dear, as during her career, Cameron registered each of her photographs with the copyright office and kept detailed records. Her shrewd business sense is one reason that so many of her works survive today. Another reason that many of Cameron's portraits are significant is because they are often the only existing photograph of historical figures. Many paintings and drawings exist, but, at the time, photography was still a new and challenging medium for someone outside a typical portrait studio.

My favourite photograph of Cameron’s is “I Wait” which depicts a little girl as an angel. The little girl in the picture is Rachel Gurney, Cameron’s niece, who went on to become the Countess of Dudley before drowning in Ireland in 1920.
"I Wait"
I find this photo particularly haunting and beautiful at the same time.

Cameron was born in Calcutta, India, as her father worked for the East India Company, and she was educated in France before moving back to India where she married a member of the law commission based in Calcutta – Charles Hay Cameron, who was twenty years older than her, and would become a future portrait subject.

In 1848 he retired and they left India for London where, in 1863, Cameron’s daughter, also named Julia, gave her a camera as a gift, and Cameron threw herself into photography with fierce determination.

1873 her only daughter died, and for the rest of that year there were no Julia Margaret Cameron photographs registered.

In 1875 Julia and Charles moved back to India, where Julia tried to continue with her photography but complained in letters about the difficulties of getting chemicals and pure water to develop and print photographs. Also, in India, she did not have access to Little Holland House's artistic community. She also did not have a market to distribute her photographs as she had in England. Because of this, Cameron took fewer pictures in India. These pictures were of posed Indian natives, paralleling the posed pictures that Cameron had taken of neighbours in England. Almost none of Cameron's work from India survives.

In 1879, aged 63, Julia caught a chill and soon died.

Despite the beauty of her work, it was not until 1948 that her photography became more widely known when Helmut Gernsheim wrote a book on her work.
In 1977 Gernsheim noted that although a great photographer, Cameron had "left no mark" on the history of Photography because her work had never been imitated, but this situation was already changing by then thanks to his popularisation of her work.

If you wish to know more about not only Julia Margaret Cameron, but Victorian photography too, see the book by Victoria Olsen entitled “The Story of Julia Margaret Cameron and Victorian Photography” which you can find on Amazon here

And for those interested in the history of photography, a timeline can be viewed here

Friday, 22 October 2010

Belle Isle

Having just returned from a short break with “Miss Amateur Casual” in Brugge, I expected to be blogging about the wonderful, historical and beautiful Belgian city. However, apart from a hearty recommendation to visit, and a further recommendation for readers to stay in this B&B, which was superb, I turned from blogging about Brugge, to the wonderful St Pancras – from which we left London for France on the Eurostar.

I hadn’t been to Kings Cross or St Pancras for years, and this visit was the first since I became fixated with the Victorian period, therefore I saw it with different eyes than I had before, appreciating the architecture all the more.
I resolved to blog about St Pancras, George Gilbert Scott and the Midland Grand Hotel, but on the way back to England on the Eurostar I got engrossed in an article (Predictably, by Greenwood) about an area not far from St Pancras and Kings Cross, called Belle Isle.

Once we arrived home, I got online and tried to find out more about this horrible sounding place, the description of which conjured up the stereotypical image of Victorian London poverty and child labour. Here is the article that inspired my searches:

“ON a piping hot summer's day - the thermometer marking 80 in the shade I took it into my head that I would go and see how such weather agreed with a place so terrible as Belle-Isle was made out to be. It is doubtful if, left to himself, the stranger would ever discover the place in question. Those who are disposed for a similar exploration, however, may accept the following simple direction. Turn up a road called the York-road, by the side of the King's-cross railway station, and follow your nose. Even should the wind be unfavourable, the air will certainly be laden with peculiar indications that may safely be trusted for guidance. 
Keep straight along the York-road, and gradually you will be sensible of leaving civilization behind you. You will discover on the right-hand side of the way, opposite to some cottages which stand in a street that is "no thoroughfare," a modest pair of gates attached to a red-brick lodge bearing the inscription "Cemetery Entrance." Here it is that bodies intended for interment in out-of-town cemeteries are housed until the stated time arrives for their conveyance down the line. It is a terribly deserted and melancholy place, looking as though every one connected with its proper and decent keeping had given up the ghost and slipped down the line with the rest. Between the gates and the dismal house where the coffins are stored, there is a space which desperate efforts have been made to convert into a kitchen garden; but never was there a more ghastly failure. Barren, sickly, yellow-cabbage stalks, that have out-grown their strength, crop out of the ground all aslant; while fierce rank weeds have seized on more tender plants of the green tribe, and strangled them till they are absolutely black in the face. The iron gate has long shed the coat of paint by which it was originally covered, and glows dusky red with rust. It is evident that no one now resides at the lodge; for there is a board on which are inscribed directions to "apply over the way," and when last I passed a dozen or so of shoeless, almost breechesless young Belle-Islanders were swarming over the wall, and deriving immense satisfaction from the pastime of pitching old tin pots and other gutter refuse upon a sort of high-up window-ledge. But you do not arrive at Belle-Isle proper until you reach the archway that spans the road. At this point you may dispense with the services of your faithful olfactory guide; indeed, it will be better, provided you do it in a way that shall not be remarkable-for the act is one that the inhabitants may resent - to mask its keen discrimination with your pocket handkerchief. Here, an appropriate sentinel at the threshold of this delectable place, stands the great horse-slaughtering establishment of the late celebrated Mr. John Atcheler.
As a horse-slaughtering establishment nothing can be said against it. I am afraid to say how many hundred lame, diseased, and worn-out animals weekly find surcease of sorrow within Atcheler's gates-or how many tons of nutriment for the feline species are daily boiled in the immense coppers and carried away every morning by a legion of industrious barrowmen. Everything, I have no doubt, is managed in the best possible way; but that best still leaves a terribly broad margin for odours that can only be described as nauseating. In the shadow of the slaughter-yard is a public-house-a house of call for the poleaxe men and those who, with a hook to catch fast hold, and an enormous knife, denude the worn-out horses' bones of the little flesh that remains attached to them. They are terrible looking fellows, these honest horse slaughterers. They seem rather to cultivate than avoid stains of a crimson colour; and they may be seen at the bar of the public-house before-mentioned, merry as sandboys, haw-hawing in the true and original "fee-fo-fum" tone, drinking pots of beer with red hands and with faces that look as though they had been swept with a sanguinary hearth-broom. You can see all this from the gateway where the savage young Belle-Islanders congregate to give fierce prods with pointed sticks at the miserable bare-ribbed old horses as they come hobbling in. Altogether the picture is one to be remembered.
The horse slaughterer's place, however, is by no means the ugliest feature of Belle-Isle. Its inodorous breath is fragrant compared with the pestilent blast that greets the sense of smell before a distance of fifty paces further has been accomplished. The spot that holds the horse slaughter houses is modestly called "The Vale;" the first turning beyond is, with goblin like humour, designated "Pleasant Grove." It is hardly too much to say, that almost every trade banished from the haunts of men, on account of the villanous smells and the dangerous atmosphere which it engenders is represented in Pleasant Grove. There are bone boilers, fat-melters, "chemical works," firework makers, lucifer-match factories, and several most extensive and flourishing dust-yards, where - at this delightful season so excellent for ripening corn - scores of women and young girls find employment in sifting the refuse of dust-bins, standing knee-high in what they sift. In the midst of all this is a long row of cottages, each tenanted by at least one family; and little children, by dozens and scores, find delight in the reeking kennels. These are the very little ones; those of somewhat larger growth turn their attention to matters less trivial.
For instance, a knot of half-a-dozen were calmly enjoying, at the wide-open gates of a sort of yard, the edifying and instructive spectacle of a giant, stripped to his waist, smashing up with a sledge-hammer the entire red skeletons of horses that had just been dragged from the cutting and stripping department. Again, the juvenile Bell-Islanders are not so benighted that they have not heard of the game of cricket; nor did a lack of the recognised appliances needed for that noble game frustrate their praiseworthy determination to do something like what other boys do. A green sward was, of course, out of the question; but they had; to the number of eight or ten, chosen a tolerably level bit between two dust-heaps. For wickets they had a pile of old hats and broken crockery; for bat the stump leg of an old bedstead, and for ball the head of a kitten.
This is not romance, but earnest fact. With the thermometer at 80 in the shade, there was the merry young band of cricketers, their faces and the rest of their visible flesh the very colour of the dust they sported among; and, the sun blazing down on their uncovered heads, they were bowling up the kitten's head, giving it fair spanks with the bedstead - leg for ones and twos, and looking out with barbarous relish for "catches." Evidently they were boys employed in some of the surrounding factories, and this was the way in which they sought recreation in their dinner-hour! I say evidently they were factory-lads, because their fantastic aspect bespoke them such. There were boys whose rags were of a universal yellow tint, as though they were intimately acquainted with the manufacture of sulphur or some such material; boys whose rags were black as a sweep's; and other boys who were splashed with many colours, that made them twinkle in the sun like demon harlequins as they wrestled in the ashes for possession of the "ball."
Belle-Isle is by no means a small place. Beyond the delectable Pleasant Grove is another thoroughfare called Brandon Road. Brandon Road has cottages on either side of the way, and gives harbourage to several hundred cottagers little and big. The road is hemmed in, as Pleasant Grove is, by stench-factories, and the effect on an individual used to ordinarily wholesome air is simply indescribable. The odour makes the nostrils tingle; you can taste it on the tongue as though you had sipped a weak solution of some nauseating acid ; it makes the eyes water. And yet, as before stated, swarms of little children and grown men and women abide winter and summer in this awful place; here they cook and eat their food, and, these sultry nights, when even in open places scarcely a breath of air stirs, they retire to bed amid it all. It is utterly impossible that the poor wretches doomed to Pleasant Grove and Brandon Road should not be afflicted occasionally with illness; and just imagine the sick bed at this time of year!
But there is another feature of this pestilent colony of too grave importance to be passed over. The row of barrows and "half-carts," as they are called, unmistakably denotes that Brandon Road is a place where costermongers congregate - vendors of fruit and vegetables who hawk their wares through the day, and bring home at night what remains unsold. And where is that remainder stored? It cannot be left in the street all night; it must be carried into the house - into the ill-ventilated hovel containing three rooms and a wash- house; every apartment affording sleeping accommodation for some member of the householder's family or his "lodgers." One shudders even to think of it. The temperature of 80 in the shade, and the plums and apples and pears-more often than not just a little "damaged" before the costermonger brought them - heaped all night in one of these Belle-Isle fever-dens on the same floor on which the sack and straw bed is made, to be taken out to-morrow and sold and eaten raw or made into pies and puddings by the thrifty poor, who, before everything, look out for what is cheap! I saw under one gateway several hundreds of herrings split open and hung up to "cure" in that hotbed of pestilence.
It is not nice to talk about such matters; it was very far from nice to investigate them; but, since such vileness exists, has existed doubtless for years, and will continue to exist for all that the parochial authorities can do to make an end of it, it becomes necessary to expose it for common safety, no less than for mercy's sake. The risk we run in shirking such questions is incalculable. Not because we are far removed from plague-spots are they no concern of ours; not because we are cleanly in our own homes, and take scrupulous care, in a sanitary sense, of every nook and corner from the garret to the kitchen, can we afford, with no more than a disgustful shrug of the shoulders, to dismiss from our minds all consideration of the deplorable condition of the Belle-Islanders. It is not only the residents of Belle Isle that are in daily danger from its poisoned air. As I have mentioned, there are many factories the operations of which admit of boy labour. I don't know whether the factory inspectors ever visit Belle-Isle, or whether any member of the Metropolitan School Board has yet happened to pass that way at the hour when the gangs of poor little wretches are respited from their disgusting drudgery. It is always unsafe, with regard to this class of juvenile humanity, to rely on size and appearance as guides in judging of age. Stunted in growth and ill-fed as they are, it is easy to miscalculate by a year or so; but I think I might allow at least as broad a margin as that, and then declare that many of the industrious little chaps that came trooping out of the match factories and other factories near at dinner time, had not yet witnessed their ninth birthday. All of them were ragged and hideously dirty, and, so far as might be judged by the little of their complexion that was accidentally brushed clear of its coat of grime, they were one and all sickly and unhealthy-looking.
I wish that a member of the School Board would find leisure to look in on Belle-Isle some fine dinner time or evening. I think it not unlikely that his benevolent eyes would be opened to the fact that the bold and easygoing youth who is proud to be known as a street Arab is not the only young person who would be benefited by his fatherly attention. The street Arab, at his worst, is a homeless, ragged, wretched little waif, who will tolerate semi-starvation, but beyond that point may not be relied on to keep his hands from picking and stealing; so he is a proper object for rescue, and it comes cheap for the country to take him and place him at a trade by following which he may obtain an honest livelihood. But who would think of apprenticing him to a lucifer matchmaker, or a worker in chemical compositions, the handling of which would certainly enfeeble his health, and bring him to an early grave? Did only half a dozen such instances occur, the whole nation would raise its hands in horror at the deliberate barbarity; yet here, in Belle-Isle, and in a few other places that might be mentioned, we have hundreds of poor, patient little boys and girls, who never in their lives did a dishonest thing, kept in ignorance and doomed to work through their young lives in dirt and squalor and the very shadow of death, for little if anything more in the shape of wages than the free street Arab contrives to pick up in his vagabond rovings."

I managed to find an old map online of Kings Cross and St Pancras stations, which I would have posted here but it came out rather small, so you can look at it a bit closer here 

On the far left of the map can be seen Belle Isle and its businesses, the Bone Mill, Soap Works, Cattle Lairs and the brick and tile works.
I compared this to a current map of London, and, as expected, Belle Isle is no longer there. However, if you try and take Greenwood’s directions today you can see where Belle Isle used to be. 

What Greenwood calls York Road, seems now to be York Way N7, which runs north alongside Kings Cross station off the junction between Pentonville Road and Euston Road.  Following York Way past Kings Cross, you come to three roads, all right-turns, in a row. The names of these roads are: 

      * Vale Royal, which perhaps was once “The Vale”?

* Tileyard Road (where the old Belle Isle brick and tile works were?) And the most northernly;

      * Brandon Road, which is also mentioned in the article.

In between these three roads now are a variety of businesses, but did this used to be Belle Isle?

Things like this fascinate me, I’m interested in the way cities move on and evolve and the bad old places are swept away in favour of the new. If this is the kind of subject that you too find interesting, then the story of the notorious slum of Bethnal green; “The Old Nichol” will probably interest you, and you should get hold of the Sarah Wise book “The Blackest Streets” which details the conditions and social impact of the slum.

In the meantime, any other stories like this or comments or information on Belle Isle or places like it are very much welcomed. I think I have the location of where it used to be correct, but would like to be corrected if not.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

James Greenwood: 1832 - 1929

Since I continue to mention James Greenwood on this blog, on Twitter, and citing him as my favourite Victorian writer, I thought it prudent to write a little about him here so that any readers who are unfamiliar with him can get to know him a little better, and hopefully be inspired to read some of his work.

Greenwood was a writer and social journalist after the fashion of Henry Mayhew, but whilst Mayhew and his “London Labour and the London Poor” went on to achieve recognition and plaudits for over a hundred and fifty years, Most of Greenwood’s work is largely unknown today.

Social journalism such as Jacob Riis’s “How the Other Half Lives”, published in 1890, and the work it inspired; Jack London’s undercover study of the poor east end of London, “The People of the Abyss” in 1902, and of course, Mayhew’s work, sold copy after copy as the public read with horror the living conditions of the underclass of the Metropolis, but half a century before Jack London conducted his famous study, James Greenwood - then working for the Pall Mall Gazette - undertook his own investigations into the manner in which London's poor spent their days.

The 19th century workhouses were largely ignored by the middle and upper classes of London society, as were most issues relating to the poor, until Greenwood took it upon himself to conduct an investigation into the manner in which workhouses were run. Disguising himself as a vagrant, he checked himself into Lambeth workhouse for an evening and his experiences there were soon after published as the ground-breaking “A Night in a Workhouse” in 1866.

This report was different not only for the subject it tackled, but for the way in which it was described. The poor had been written about before by various newspapers of the time, but these accounts always retained a strong sense of "Victorian propriety", i.e. "unpleasant" issues were not discussed, and poetic euphemisms often replaced the actual horrors London's indigent populations had to face.
Greenwood took a different approach with his report. For the first time, the subject of London's poor was described in vivid and revealing detail. Greenwood writes of the dehumanization which takes place within the workhouse, people stripped of all their possessions and sent to bathe in water so grime-filled it had the consistency of soup. He describes in horrific detail how he discovered his own mattress soaked with the blood of its previous inhabitant.
On mentioning this to the keeper, he was told to flip it over and "you'll be alright."

Yet through it all, Greenwood describes the often incredible strength of the workhouse inhabitants, who manage to keep a sense of humour throughout, and don't often complain of the small lot they've been given.
The response to “A Night in a Workhouse” was phenomenal, and the subject of the poor was thrown immediately into the London spotlight. One surviving broadside from 1866 goes far to display the public's reaction to Greenwood's pamphlet with a lyrical report:

“All you that dwell in Lambeth, listen for a while, 

To a song to enlighten and amuse you, 

In the workhouse only mark, there's queer doings after dark. 

And believe me it is true I now tell you; 

It's of the ups and downs, of a pauper's life, 

Which are none of the best you may he sure sir. 

Strange scenes they do enact, believe me, it's a fact, 

In Lambeth workhouse among the casual poor, sir. 

Oh my, what a rummy go, oh crikey, what a strange revelation, 

Has occurred in Lambeth workhouse a little while ago, 

And through the parish is causing great sensation.
Now a gent, with good intent, to Lambeth workhouse went, 

The mystery of the place to explore, sir, 
Says he, without a doubt, I shall then find out, 

What treatment they give the houseless poor, sir. 

So he went through his degrees, like a blessed brick, 

Thro' scenes he had never seen before, sir, 

So good luck to him, I say, for ever and a day, 

For bestowing a thought upon the poor, sir.
Says he, when you go in, in a bath you are pop’t in, 

To flounder about just like fishes, 
In water that looks like dirty mutton broth,
Or the washings of the plates and the dishes; 

Then your togs are tied up tight, to make sure all is right,

Like parcels put up for a sale, sir, 

A ticket then you get, as if you are for a trip, 

And a-going a journey by the rail, sir.

Then before you go to bed, you get a toke of bread, 

Which, if hungry, goes a small way to fill you, 

And if not too late at night, you may chance to be all right, 

To wash it down with a draught of skilley; 

Some they will shout out, Daddy, mind what you are about, 

And tip me a comfortable rug now, 

And be sure you see it's whole, for I'm most jolly cold, 

And mind you don't give us any bugs now,
Then you pig on a dirty floor, if you can, you'll have a snore, 

And pass away time till the morning. 

Then you're muster'd up pell mell, at the crank to take a spell, 

Just to give your cramp'd up body a good warming. 

Thou see them all in rows in their torn and ragged clothes, 

Their gruel and their bread they swallow greedy, 
hen through London streets they roam, with neither friends or home, 
It's the fate of the suffering and the needy.

Now a word I've got to say, to all you who poor rates pay, 

Tho', of course, offence to none is intended. 

Before you your poor rates pay, just well look to the way, 

And inquire how your money is expended; 

Do as you'd be done to, that is the time of day, 

And with me you'll agree, I am sure now, 

As you high taxes pay, it is but fair I say, 

To look a little to the comforts of the poor now.”

Today, still, Greenwood's “A Night in a Workhouse” is heralded as the first example of true investigative journalism as these recent quotes show:

"Another event, early in 1866, changed the way journalists investigated questions concerning the poor, and the way the stories about the poor were told.
Dressing himself in shabby clothes, James Greenwood spent a night in the casual ward of a London workhouse. His account of his evening first appeared in the Pall Mall Gazette, then was reprinted in the Times, and finally published as a pamphlet, A Night in a Workhouse.
Not only did Greenwood's expose initiate a standard for investigative reporting of conditions among the urban poor, but the stark reporting established a tone picked up by working-class writers such as Arthur Morrison later in the century. "
 - Bulletin of the Midwest Victorian Studies Association (Summer 2000)

"British and Continental students of poverty provided Americans with more precise models for down-and-out social investigation. Peter Keating has identified a British tradition of such explorations, generally intended to stimulate reform through state action, that he dates from journalist James Greenwood's 1866 account of "A Night in a Workhouse." "
 - A World of Difference: Constructing the "Underclass" in Progressive America by
Mark Pittenger 
American Quarterly (1997)

To this day, “A Night in a Workhouse” retains a poignancy unparalleled in most descriptions of the poor of Victorian London. These are the same workhouses discussed in the works of Dickens and Morrison - the same workhouses frequented by the victims and of Jack the Ripper in Whitechapel, 1888. The importance of the workhouse in the lives of London's poor can not be overstated - it was where they slept, ate, worked, received medical attention, and, often, where they died.

After leaving The Pall Mall Gazette, Greenwood became a journalist with the Daily Telegraph, and continued to produce articles relating to social issues and poverty in London.

Throughout his career he produced a good quantity of work, and his articles, put together and released as books. I have included a link here to Wiki-source, where his compiled works (listed below) can be read, including “A Night in the Workhouse”:

   In Strange Company (1874)
   Low-Life Deeps (1881)
   Toilers in London (1883)
   Unsentimental Journeys (1867)
   The Wilds of London (1874)

Anyone interested in Victorian social journalism or Victorian society should take the time to look at Greenwood’s work, as many aspects of it can be found within it.

Greenwood’s writing, not just in “A Night in a Workhouse” – his most popular piece – but in all his work, I find is amongst the most readable of the Victorian social journalism because of the humour and humanity that runs through the writing of this intelligent, affable and pioneering Victorian journalist.

Thanks to Stephen from for letting me use some of his words on greenwood, and for anyone interested in what Greenwood looked like, he is the handsome fellow on my profile picture!