Esoteric London

No. 1131: Tower Bridge Piazza, SE1

Posted in London Labour, London Places, London Types, Parks by esotericlondon on June 30, 2014


Tower Bridge Piazza, London, SE1. Photo ©RogerDean 2014

Street Life in London – J.Thomson and Adolphe Smith, 1877:


HOLIDAYS and idle days are golden days to nearly all who earn their bread in open spaces, thoroughfares, or streets. When ordinary business is at a stand-still, when the cares of commerce are laid aside for a few hours, and the great majority of the population seek to enjoy a little rest or recreation, the poor of London make their appearance, invade all places of public resort, and expect to reap a golden harvest from the holiday. Sundays, and especially Good Fridays, are often the busiest days in the year to many who seek to gain a livelihood out of doors. The parks, commons, gardens, in fact all pleasure-grounds, are overrun with eager caterers to the public. They offer for sale objects of the most modest description; but on such occasions the worst oranges, suspicious sweets, faded flowers, and the dingiest of ornaments, find comparatively speaking a ready sale. Clapham Common is of course one of the most accessible rendezvous for these itinerant vendors; but certain industries are more particularly successful on this spot. The place is especially attractive to itinerant photographers. During the season they flock to the Common; though the demand for the class of portrait they produce is of so constant a character, that one photographer at least has found it worth his while to remain in the neighbourhood even during the winter. […]. Nurses with babies and perambulators are easily lured within the charmed focus of the camera. They are particularly fond of taking home to their mistresses a photograph of the child entrusted to their care; and the portrait rarely fails to excite the interest of the parents. Nor does the matter rest here. The parents are often so satisfied that the nurse is commissioned to obtain one or more likenesses on her next visit to the common. Thus practically she becomes an advertising medium, and the photographer generally relies on receiving more orders when he has once secured the custom of a nurse-girl. It need scarcely be remarked that at Clapham Common there are not only a large number of nurses and children, but these are generally of a class which can well afford the shilling charged for taking their likeness.

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