Rhoda Street, London, E2. Photo ©RogerDean 2014
The Little World of London; Or, Pictures In Little Of London Life – Charles Manby Smith, 1857:
No matter whether it be a day of hail, rain, snow, sleet, or fog – of star-lighted winter or sun-lighted summer – here we are in Cheapside, which is submitting to its daily scrape; having been lathered with mud all day yesterday, it is undergoing a clean shave in order to a presentable appearance to-day. Scavengers are brushing and scraping up the filth and refuse of twenty-four hours, and loading their heavy carts with the gold of London streets – gold at least it will be to the farmer in the shape of manure to his exhausted land. In the midst of their labour comes the regular tramp of the police, in Indian file, to relieve guard, by which everybody who knows anything about it knows that it is six o’clock in the morning in Cheapside, even though St. Paul’s should cease to wag his metallic tongue, and Bow bells be be-witched into dumb-bells.
But the day has grown older, and Cheapside has put on a new face; commerce has thrown aside her mask of wooden shutters, and the wealth of both worlds is peeping out at windows; shops are sweeping and garnishing; genteel young men and comely damsels exhibit themselves at full-length, framed in burnished brass and plate glass – they are busy liming twigs for fluttering vanity. Here on the pavement comes a procession of standard-bearers, an army with timber banners, levied in the east to invade the west – a battalion of slop-shop militia, commissioned to fight the battle of cheap pantaloons under the very nose of fashion. Ragged recruits they are, very much in want of the garniture which they are doomed to puff: they defile slowly round St. Paul’s Churchyard, and vanish to their work. – Now sets in a current of omnibuses towards the Bank, all crammed within, and covered without, with business faces. At every turn they stop and discharge a part of their cargo of clerks, managers, time-keepers, book-keepers, and cash-keepers, and then, with a convulsive bang of the door, roll on again. Others having set down their passengers, exemplify the truth of the old adage, “Empty vessels make the greatest sound,” and come sauntering westward, emitting lusty cries of “Charing Cross!” “Sloane Street!” “Westminster!” “Angel!” […].