No. 794: Streatham High Road, SW16
St Leonard’s Church, Streatham High Road, London SW16. Photo © Roger Dean 2013
The Pinch of Poverty; Sufferings and Heroism of the London Poor – “The Riverside Visitor” , 1892:
A young fellow of about two-and-twenty stands out rather conspicuously by reason of a general wholesomeness of appearance, which is in decided contrast to the sallow and sodden look of most of those around him. His look of health is attributable to the regular living of prison life. He has just worked out a sentence of two months’ hard labour for fowl-stealing, which is the line of business he more particularly affects. He is accounted a first-class hand at it, but, like the fowls, he occasionally gets caught, having now had three “little lots” in the way of “doing time.” Other men are lounging about who might be worth description did space permit. Here are a couple of “finger-smiths” – pickpockets – engaged in a rather warm discussion as to the best ways and means of reaching a certain suburban race meeting. A little lower down a “pewterer” – that is to say, a thief whose speciality is the purloining of publicans’ and milkmen’s cans – is exchanging jokes with a wiry-looking customer, whose line is stripping empty houses or new buildings of their metal fittings.
[ From the evidence I found in St Leonard’s churchyard the wiry-looking metal thieves are still plying their trade today. R.D.]
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