No. 957: Hackney Road, E2
Hackney Road, London, E2. Photo © Roger Dean 2013
Walks in and Around London – Uncle Jonathan, 1895:
Now let us see what the little busy bees of the streets are doing in this great hive of London. Flitting about amongst the throng of people from early morn till late at night, they ‘improve each shining hour’ as well as the busy merchants. And not only the shining hour, but the darker hours of evening and up to midnight find many of them still eagerly trying to earn a few pence. These are the children of the poor who have to earn their own living. And for some of them cruel beatings await them if they cannot gather together, honestly or wickedly, a certain sum of money for their parents. Sometimes amongst these workers we see a child who has been driven from home, turned into the streets to fight his own way through life; or, as he says, to ‘fish for himself.’ Uncared for, in fear of almost everybody, in terror of the police, alone in the world, what wonder that he should go wrong! But thanks to good Drs. Stephenson and Barnardo, and other noble men and women, many of these uncared-for little ones are lifted right away from evil and put into comfortable homes.
It was the younger of the little Londoners of the poorest class whom we just now watched at play. We will see how their elder brothers and sisters are occupied. If we went to Covent Garden Market at about five or six o’clock one morning, we should find many of these boys and girls waiting to purchase their stock in trade. There are the flower-girls, choosing and buying their bunches of flowers and fern-leaves, which they will carry to their homes. Arranging them there, and making them into neat little ‘button-holes,’ they will sally forth after their meagre meal, to the various railway stations from which the streams of City people are pouring into the streets. The sweet scent of their daintily arranged flowers, and their cry of ‘Sweet Violets,’ soon bring customers. For busy City people like a flower, to remind them of what is beautiful outside the smoky town.