No. 798: Great Portland Street, W1
Great Portland Street, London, W1. Photo © Roger Dean, 2012
The Rookeries of London, Past, Present, and Prospective – Thomas Beames, 1850:
[…] The Rookery,- a place or rather district, so named, whose shape was triangular, bounded by Bainbridge street, George street, and High street, St. Giles’s. While the New Oxford Street was building, the recesses of this Alsatia were laid open partially to the public, the débris were exposed to view; the colony, called The Rookery was like an honeycomb, perforated by a number of courts and blind alleys, culs de sac, without any outlet other than the entrance. Here were the lowest lodging houses in London, inhabited by the various classes of thieves common to large cities,- the housebreaker, who did not profess to have any other means of livelihood; the tramp and vagrant, whose assumed occupation was a cloak for roguery; the labourer who came to London to look for work; the hordes of Irish who annually seem to come in and go out with the flies and the fruit, – were here banded together: driven by their various necessities to these dens, they were content to take shelter there, till the thief had opportunity to repair his fortune, and the labourer means to provide better lodging. The streets were narrow; the windows stuffed up with rags, or patched with paper; strings hung across from house to house, on which clothes were put out to dry; the gutters stagnant, choked up with filth; the pavement strewed with decayed cabbage stalks and other vegetables; the walls of the houses mouldy, discoloured, the whitewash peeling off from damp […].