Esoteric London

No. 1059: Conduit Street, W1

Posted in Shops, The Thames by esotericlondon on March 20, 2014

Conduit Street, London, W1. Photo © Roger Dean 2011

The Mysteries of London, Volume 2 – George W. M. Reynolds, c. 1845:

THE THAMES PIRATES

Moored at a wharf at the Rotherhithe side of the river Thames, nearly opposite Execution Dock, were several lighters and barges, all lying together.
Along the upper part of the buildings belonging to the wharf were painted, in rude but gigantic letters, the following words: — “MOSSOP’S WHARF, WHERE GOODS ARE RECEIVED, HOUSED, OR CARTED.”

Mr. Mossop, the sole proprietor of this wharf, was by no means particular what goods he thus received, whence they came when he housed them, or whither they were going when he carted them. He asked no questions, so long as his commission and charges were duly paid.
For the convenience of his numerous customers, he kept his office constantly open; and either himself or his son Ben Mossop was in constant attendance.
Indeed, Mr. Mossop did more business by night than by day. He was, however, a close man: he never put impertinent questions to any one who called to patronise him; and thus his way of doing business was vastly convenient for all those who used his wharf or his store-houses.
If a lighter arrived at that wharf, ostensibly with a freight of hay, but in reality with divers bales of cotton or other goods concealed beneath the dried grass, Mr. Mossop did not seem to think that there was anything at all strange in this; and if next day he happened to hear that a barge at a neighbouring wharf had been robbed of divers bales of cotton during the night, Mr. Mossop was too much of a gentleman to question the integrity of his customers. Even if every wall in Rotherhithe, Horselydown, and Bermondsey, were covered with placards announcing the loss of the bales, describing them to a nicety, and offering reward for their recovery, Mr. Mossop never stopped to read one of them.
On two or three occasions, when a police-officer called at his wharf and politely requested him just to honour the nearest magistrate with a visit, and enter into an explanation how certain goods happened to be found in his store-rooms, the said goods having been lost by other parties in an unpleasant manner, Mr. Mossop would put an enormous pair of spectacles upon his nose and a good face on the matter at the same time; and it invariably happened that he managed to convince the bench of his integrity, but without in any way compromising those persons who might be in custody on account of the said goods.

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