No. 829: Harringay Road, N15
Harringay Road, London, N15. Photo © Roger Dean 2013
Ragged London in 1861 – John Hollingshead, 1861:
THE BACK OF WHITECHAPEL.
IF I were writing a partially fancy description of the poverty and wretchedness in a particular district, I should mix the aspects of one street with the aspects of another, and hide my real locality under a very thin veil. I should call Whitechapel by its more appropriate name of Blackchapel, and play with the East of London under the title of St. George’s-in-the-Dirt. As this book, however, is intended to be a faithful chronicle of what I have seen, what the local clergy and others see every day, and almost every hour, and what everyone else may see in a week’s walk about the back streets of London, I give up effect for the sake of truthfulness, and strive to become a plain, matter-of-fact guide.
There are many different degrees of social degradation and unavoidable poverty, even in the east. Whitechapel, properly so called, may not be the worst of the many districts in this quarter; but it is undoubtedly bad enough. Taking the broad road from Aldgate Church to old Whitechapel Church, a thoroughfare, in some parts, like the high street of an old-fashioned country town, you may pass on either side about twenty narrow avenues, leading to thousands of closely-packed nests, full to overflowing with dirt, and misery, and rags. Many living signs of the inner life behind the busy shops are always oozing out on to the pavements and into the gutters; for all children in low neighbourhoods that are not taken in by the ragged and other charity schools are always living in the streets: they eat in the streets what little they get to eat, they play in the streets in all weathers, and sometimes they have to sleep in the streets.
[Up until the boundary changes in 1994 there were no Roads in the City of London because at the time the ancient City was naming its thoroughfares the word meant a ‘journey on horseback’ rather than the meaning it has today. The word did not assume its modern meaning until the late 16th Century by which time the naming of the City’s byways had been largely completed. In the boundary changes of 1994 half of Goswell Road came under the jurisdiction of the City of London and half under the City of Westminster so technically the City still has no Roads within its boundaries only half of one. R.D.]