Esoteric London

No. 379: Clegg Street, E1

Posted in Architectural by esotericlondon on August 11, 2011

Clegg Street, Wapping, London, E1. Photo © Roger Dean 2011

Unknown London – W.G. Bell, 1919:

Wapping lies downstream close against the City of London’s boundaries. It is quite unknown to Londoners. No one thinks of going there. Moreover, it is absolutely unrecognizable. The one paved street runs beneath the sheer walls of huge warehouses which shut out all sight of the river, low-lying as though at the bottom of a deep cutting. Can this be the famous Wapping High Street? The name painted up alone tells you so. Wapping Wall is here, too, but in little more than name. the narrow road twists awkwardly around gasworks and stores and a few workmen’s tenements.

It had a glory peculiarly its own, this famous High Street, when life was in it. The name was familiar wherever trade or war took British ships into the most distant seas, and stood as a symbol to sailors of riot and boisterous enjoyment, as the old wind-jammers threshed their way homewards.

All the colour has gone with the people. Few places have been swept so clean as Wapping. It has been undercut for the Thames Tunnel and the railway, dug out for the great London Docks, until now half the parish has a water surface. The church alone wears signs of age, and the graveyard with its many moss-covered tombs, wherein lie master mariners brought here to their last anchorage.

Yes, Wapping is dead; as dead as any cities there may be that lie salted at the bottom of the Dead Sea.