Adam Street, London, WC2. Photo © Roger Dean 2013
Street Life in London – J.Thomson and Adolphe Smith, 1877:
WORKERS ON THE “SILENT HIGHWAY.”
With regard to the character of the men who work on the barges, a graver accusation might be brought against the Watermen’s Company. Licences are sometimes granted to the most unworthy persons, and the safety of property on the river gravely compromised. I have a list before me of Freemen of the Watermen’s Company who have been sentenced to different terms of imprisonment for felony, for plundering barges, &c., and who have nevertheless again obtained the Company’s licence on their release from prison. One man, for instance, was tried in December, 1868, and sentenced to eighteen months’ imprisonment – Detective Howard convicted him of stealing wheat from a barge – yet this man is now working on the Thames with the Company’s licence.