Esoteric London

No. 921: Hammersmith Road, W14

Posted in Lettering, London Labour, Wartime London by esotericlondon on September 9, 2013

© Roger Dean RED_3646

Hammersmith Road, London, W14. Photo © Roger Dean 2013

The Little World of London;or, Pictures in Little of London Life – Charles Manby Smith, 1857:

The moon, which for the last hour has got fixed by the horns in a low cloud, now glimmers out above it, and lights us pleasantly on our path as we enter upon a district the very reverse of fashionable, where the sons of trade who keep open market for the middle and lower classes, lead their lives of anxiety and toil. It is now half-past two o’clock, and the nearest approach to complete and general silence that London ever knows, reigns around as we pursue our solitary way. Hark! what noise is that? “Bang! bang!” a loud and furious knocking at doors – the startling and incessant crash of rattles – the heavy tramp of hurrying feet – the vision of dusky forms hastening to and fro, which almost appear to rise out of the earth – and the loud and reiterated cry of “Fire! fire!” Householders, leaping from their sleep, throw up their windows, and projecting themselves half out in their night-gear, ask anxiously, “Where? where?” It is round the corner; and on coming in sight of the house we see the dense smoke issuing from the fanlight over the entrance to the shop, and from the interstices between the shutters. The policeman is banging at the door with all his might, but no one answers. The house appeals to be empty. In a few minutes a crowd of some hundreds has collected, and the neighbours have illuminated their windows to throw light on the scene; but as yet nothing can be done to check the conflagration. Already the long tongues of flame curl round the blistered shutters, which are glowing in a red heat, and soon fall in charred fragments to the ground. Now the windows of the first-floor burst outwards with a sharp explosion, and the flame pours forth like a stream rushing upwards. Now comes the first engine, crashing and galloping over the stones with a portentous deafening din but too well known to the dwellers in London. The street is ankle-deep in water from the mains which the turncock has opened, and in a few seconds after the arrival of the firemen, a copious stream from the hose is hissing in the flames.

[The sign in the photograph above indicates the location of an emergency water supply tank or chamber for fighting fires during WW2 air raids. R.D.]

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