things I have not been able to suss out

Hey, historians! Can anybody tell me when the north bank of the Thames was properly embanked/walled/whatever, east of the Victoria Embankment? That one formally ends at Blackfriars, and I’m trying to figure out what the riverbank would look like to someone standing a bit further east (between Blackfriars and Queenhithe) in 1884. As in, is it a mess of wharves and wooden pilings and what-have-you, or has someone built a nice tidy stone wall by then?

Why yes, I am obsessive about my details. How could you tell?

Anyway, my books don’t say, and I can’t get the Internet to help me. Possibly my fu is just not on tonight. And yeah, Peter Ackroyd has that whole book on the Thames, but it’s 11 p.m. and even Amazon Prime can’t teleport things to my desk. So I figured I’d ask and see if anybody can answer the question without me having to add to my research shelf.

0 Responses to “things I have not been able to suss out”

  1. jen_qoe

    The V.Embankment was done in 1870, but don’t think it was walled beyond that in 1884. So mess of wharves etc.
    There’d be building for the Blackfriars railway bridge going on at the time though, so possibly a mass of Victorian construction type things as well.
    And there’s a bit about the Victoria Embankment here if that helps generally –

    Erm, sorry, not very helpful!

  2. shui_long

    It rather looks as if the riverbank east of Blackfriars Bridge remained a jumble of wharves, piers and warehouses, as indicated in this 1886 London map.
    It was probably not much changed from that shown in Stanford’s 1872 map of the area – though the section to the west of this on Stanford’s map shows the Temple before Victoria Embankment.
    The list of businesses in the 1882 Post Office Directory for Upper Thames Street indicates that the wharves and piers were still very much in use (including, as you no doubt have noticed, Old Swan Wharf). Indeed, Queenhithe dock was still in active use well into the 20th century, to import corn to the City.
    I suspect this area was little changed from the frontage shown in this 1876 illustration from the Illustrated London News: indeed, an 1896 survey shows something fairly similar with a photo of the wharves and buildings on the river with St Paul’s behind.

    • Marie Brennan

      Awesome! Your fu is mighty indeed. And the ’86 London map is especially appreciated, since the one I bought to hang on my wall dates to ’63 (which was fine when I thought the book would be set in ’70, but is a bit outdated now that I’ve moved it fourteen years later). I’ll keep that on hand for double-checking as needed.

      I knew the wharf names have stayed around, and Queenhithe is still there; you’re right that by the look of the map, and that pic from the Illustrated, it seems they hadn’t yet been tidied up. Thank you muchly — it seems the internets do indeed know everything.

      • shui_long

        It does help if you know where to look…. The maps and directories are easy, given that I use these sources regularly – though not usually for London. My favourite source of old photographs of buildings, the English Heritage Viewfinder site, let me down this time; plenty of Blackfriars Bridge, but nothing of the river to the east of it.
        Francis Frith has something, but their site is not very user-friendly; set to “Sort by Description” and on page 16 there’s a contemporary photograph of St Paul’s from the river, but I couldn’t get the thumbnail to enlarge.)
        If only there was a consolidated index to the Illustrated London News, which has much useful material for the period; I’ve spent many hours going through the indices volume by volume (my local University Library has a complete bound set).

        Just to clarify my previous comment, the Stanford’s 1872 map clearly shows the river wall of the Victoria Embankment to the west of Blackfriars Bridge, but the road had not then been created on top of the embankment.

        I rather think that the jumble of wharves and warehouses in Castle Baynard and Queenhithe wards was not “tidied up” until after the Second World War.

  3. wshaffer

    Well, there is a Kindle edition of Ackroyd’s book, which Amazon could send near-instantaneously to your Kindle/PC/iPhone/iPad.

    Not that you necessarily want to buy a proprietary-format digital-only book just to answer this one question, but the option is available.

    • Marie Brennan

      I’m trying to avoid buying from Amazon in general; I’ve switched over to Powell’s or the Book Depository, at least for book-type stuff. But Amazon Prime does indeed remain the gold standard for “I need this book the next best thing to now.”

      I would definitely not buy a proprietary-format e-book unless I desperately needed the info and there was no other way to get the it. Which, given that I have access to Stanford’s libraries, is unlikely.

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