Esoteric London

No. 513: Old Street, EC1

Posted in London Labour, Public Art by esotericlondon on February 15, 2012

Old Street, London, EC1. Photo © Roger Dean 2012

Street Life in London – J.Thomson and Adolphe Smith, 1877:    

British energy in advertising, equalled only by American enterprise, has in any case this advantage, that it gives employment to many destitute individuals who would otherwise become burdens to the parish or swell the list of our criminal classes. In this respect the system of advertising by means of boards, which the men themselves carry on their backs, has proved the most useful, as this is a work which any one can perform, and therefore boardmen, as they are called, are often recruited among the most hopeless of our poor. The men who paste bills on the hoardings, etc, are, however, considered a grade higher in the social scale, though their antecedents are generally more humble and less interesting. The boardmen are often men who have fallen in the world, some have even once enjoyed the title of ‘gentlemen’, boast of an excellent education, but have been reduced to their present pitch of degradation through what they fashionably term dipsomania!

[ At the eastern end of Old Street beneath the railway bridges you will currently find three billboards displaying the poetry of Robert Montgomery. The poems ‘reference the moral failure of Capitalism, the concerns of the Occupy movement, and new ideas of freedom in the city’ and are part of his exhibition It Turned Out This Way Cos You Dreamed It This Way which runs until the 25th February at the KK Outlet just around the corner in Hoxton Square.

For more information about the show visit the KK Outlet website by clicking here. R.D.]

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