Sunday, March 6, 2016

Lost London

London is probably one of the most written about cities in the world, but for many parts of old London there is no record of how some streets looked in the past.  Even in the centre of the city and the more famous areas there are no records of what they used to look like.  If this is true of the well known  parts of London, how much more so is it the case with the more remote or what had been the less salubrious parts.  Working class east end is recorded as images of the people and "typical" slums, but the streets themselves are rarely shown or named.

A short list of the streets I am interested in will give an example.

For West Street Soho (or Seven Dials)  before the building of the St. Martins and Ambassador theatres there is no response for images in a search engine.  So what was it like before? Were the buildings at the end of the street demolished to make way for these theatres or were they converted?.  What used to be the West Street Chapel; is still there but were all the buildings like that or was it a mish mash of different heights and sizes?  We should be able to tell that but we cannot because there appears to be no description of the road visually or textually.

The Old Street end of City Road, Finsbury does not appear to have been caught on camera before the war time bombing disposed of it.

The tenement buildings in Manston Street, Bethnal Green did not succumb to the bombs but went by way of the demolishers to make make way for new buildings, but no one recorded them before they came down.

Small back streets all over from east to west, north to south have disapeared with no record of them apart from on old survey maps to show that they were there, or perhaps as a coloured mark on Booth's Poverty Map.

Too late now.