Red Lion Street, London,WC1. Photo ©RogerDean 2015
London and Londoners in the Eighteen-Fifties and Sixties – Alfred Rosling Bennett, 1924:
In the old days the Queen’s ministers were wont to dine together once a year on whitebait (and trimmings), and for that purpose resorted to Greenwich, either to the Ship hotel near the pier, or to the Trafalgar tavern at the other extremity of the hospital riverside walk. One day in 1861 I noticed a common barge, fitted with a temporary deck laid over with red cloth, moored in front of the Trafalgar, and a gangway fixed between the barge and one of the hotel windows. I heard that Lord Palmerston with his Cabinet were coming down by steamer from Westminster that evening, so took care to be on the spot. A crowd had assembled, but I managed to push to the front and finally secured an excellent position against the railings. About 7 o’clock a Citizen steamboat decked out in awnings and flags hove in sight, revealing a group of gentlemen in tall hats and light overcoats standing aft. The steamer passed the hotel, turned, and, describing a graceful half-circle, was dexterously brought alongside the improvised landing-stage with her stem pointing up-stream; a gangway was run across and a file of legislators – no one daring to say “Tickets, please” – strolled over and through the window into the hotel. The third or fourth was Lord Palmerston, and he was greeted with well-sustained cheering. I knew him at once, for his portrait was often published and was to be seen in many a home and shop-window.