Esoteric London

No. 567: Charles Street, W1

Posted in London Types, Markets by esotericlondon on May 1, 2012

Charles Street, London, W1. Photo © Roger Dean 2012

How the Poor Live – George R. Sims, 1883:

…it is a Saturday night we select to take a trip once more through the streets of the unfashionable quarters [of London’s East End].
We choose the heart of a thickly-populated district, and emerge from comparative quiet into a Babel of sound. A sharp turn brings us from a side street into one long thoroughfare ablaze with light and as busy as a fair. It is a fair in fact; the pavement and the roadway are crowded with a seething mass of human beings side by side with the meat stalls, the fish stalls, the fruit and vegetable stalls, and the cheap finery stalls; there are shooting galleries, try-your-strength machines, weighing chairs, raffling boards, and nothing is lacking but ‘three shies a penny’ and a Richardson’s [travelling theatre] show  to make a complete picture of an old-fashioned fair.
All the world and his wife are out tonight, and the wildest extravagances are being committed in the way of fish for supper t0night and vegetables for dinner tomorrow. The good housewives, basket on arm, are giving the ready witted hawker as much repartee over the price of a cabbage as would suffice for a modern comedy.
The workman, released from his toil, is smoking his pipe and listening open mouthed to the benevolent and leather lunged gentlemen who are sacrificing household utensils, boots, ornaments, concertinas, and cutlery, at prices which would have cajoled the money from the pocket of a Daniel Dancer. And the golden youth of the neigbbourhood, with their best attire on, all cut after one relentless fashion – the mashers [charmers of women] of the East – they too are out in full force, entering into the wild delirium of reckless pleasure which the scene invites.

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