No. 905: The Avenue, N10
The Avenue, London, N10. Photo © Roger Dean 2013
Nights In London – Thomas Burke, 1918:
In this street you are on the very edge of the civilized world. All are outcasts, even among their own kind. All are ready to die, and too sick even to go to the trouble of doing it. They have no hope, and, therefore, they have no fear. They are just down and out. All the ugly misery of all the ages is collected here in essence, and from it the atmosphere is charged; an atmosphere more horrible than any that I know: worse than that of Chinatown, worse than that of Shadwell. These are merely insidious and menacing, but Duval Street is painful.
It was here that I had the nearest approach to an adventure that I have ever had in London. I was sitting in the common kitchen of one of the houses which was conspicuously labelled on its outer white-washed lamp –
FOR MEN ONLY
The notice, however, was but the usual farcical compliance with the law which nobody regards and which nobody executes. Women were there in plenty – mostly old, unkempt women, wearing but a bodice and skirt and boots. The kitchen was a bare, blue-washed apartment, the floor sanded, with a long wooden table and two or three wooden forms. A generous fire roared up a wide chimney. The air was thick with fumes of pipes that had been replenished with “old soldiers” from West End gutters. Suddenly a girl came in with an old man. I looked at her with some interest because she was young, with copper-coloured hair that strayed about her face with all the profusion of an autumn sunset.