The artist cannot handle a brush save in the vicinity of Soho or of Fitzroy Square; hatters flourish only in Southwark; goldsmiths, watchmakers, and jewellers, in Clerkenwell; the Hebrew is at home nowhere save in Houndsditch, St. Mary Axe, and Petticoat Lane; hawkers, pedlars, caravan drivers, showmen, still resort to Lambeth, as the alchemists and astrologers used in the olden time.
The World of London, by John Murray, in Blackwoods Magazine, August 1841
London may be not inaptly characterised as a vast congeries of towns, drawn into juxtaposition by the consolidating force of civilization, and the centralising necessities of the age. But, whilst thus confederated into one stupendous unity, they are not so far merged as to lose altogether their separate individuality. Each district still retains, to an extent that is obvious to the most superficial observer, those peculiarities in its population and its trading pursuits which the locality may be more especially adapted to generate and foster, or which, in a modified form, have been transmitted with all the force of hereditary habits and associations through successive decades and centuries. The justness of this remark may be readily verified by glancing over a map of the metropolis, and drawing an inky belt around those sites where certain handicrafts or vocations are found to be chiefly localised, and where the working bees belonging to these respective hives of industry gregariously swarm. Though brought by the constraints of commerce into close contiguity, there yet yawns too often a moral and social gulf between the classes thus massed within the limits of this populous region, that is almost impassable. The environs of London, embracing a glorious circuit of twenty or thirty miles, are adorned with palatial abodes, and peopled with the graduated aristocracies of birth, title, and wealth. A wide strip, extending oh either side of the Thames, is inhabited by, or dependent upon, a unique, unassimilative race of seafaring men. The old city focalises within its boundaries the chief treasures of national wealth, vast store-streets teeming with the most precious merchandise, and the exchanges that daily witness the transactions of a world-wide commerce. In like manner, other quarters are inhabited by a preponderance of persons pursuing their several arts, grouped in distinct labour-tribes. Thus we have ' the potters of Lambeth-the hatters of Southwark-the tanners of Bermondsey-the coachmakers of Long Acre-the watchmakers of Clerkenwell-the marine store- dealers of Saffron Hill-and the old clothesmen of Holywell Street and Rosemary Lane.' But by far the most notable and perfect exemplification of this propensity, in the followers of particular trades to herd together, is seen in the case of the metropolitan silk-weavers. They are exclusively confined to that extensive realm commonly known as SPITALFIELDS.
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The Busy Hives Around Us, 1861
The purely manufacturing parts of London lie between the city and the suburbs—a sort of debateable land that is neither city nor suburb. Clerkenwell—the district between Smithneld and Pentonville on the south and north, and Gray's-inn-lane and Goswell-street on the west and east—is the chief seat of the watchmaking and jewellery trades; Spitalfields and Bethnal-green, between Bishopsgate-street and Victoria-park, are the long-established homes of the silk and velvet weavers ; most of the cabinetmakers and carvers are located about St. Luke's, Old Street-road, and Aldersgate-street; the ironfounders and anchor smiths, together with the shipwrights, riggers, and boiler-makers, are to be found in Blackwall, Poplar, Millwall, and the Isle of Dogs, in the extreme east of the town; the sugar bakers and refiners, most of them, carry on their business in the neighbourhoods of Whitechapel and Commercial-road; the tanners, parchment makers, and skin dressers reside in Bermondsey ; the potters and glass makers live in Lambeth; the tailors principally about Golden-square and Burlington-Gardens; the working boot and shoemakers in and about Shoreditch, and also in the courts and narrow streets near Drury-lane ; the producers of plaster casts aud images in Leather-lane, Holborn, and the surrounding courts ; the hatters principally in Southwark ; the paper-makers chiefly in Surrey, on the banks of the Wandle ; the chemical manufacturers at Stratford, on the banks of the Lea; the carriage builders in and about Long-acre ; the boat builders at Lambeth and Chelsea; the toymakers and doll-dressers at Hoxton, and the brewers everywhere. Of the non-manufacturing classes: authors, journalists, publishers, &c., mostly incline to St. John's-wood ; artists and engravers to Kensington and Camden-town ; musicians, singers, actors, and dancers to Brompton; physicians and surgeons to Savile-row, Brook-street, and Finsbury; lawyers to Bedford-row, Guildford-street, and the neighbourhood of the "Inns of Court;" printers to Fleet-street and the Strand; medical students to Lant-street, Southwark ; costermongers to Whitechapel, the New Cut, Lambeth, and Somers-town; members of Parliament to Westminster; and diplomatists abound in Belgravia ; "city men," such as stockbrokers, merchants, and commercial agents, affect Tyburnia, Bayswater, Haverstock-hill, Brixton, and Clapham; commercial clerks seem fond of Islington, Highgate, and Kingsland ; bill discounters favour the Adelphi and the streets running from the Strand to the river; professional thieves throng the small streets between Walworth and the Old Kent-road; and "pretty horsebreakers" have taken up their abodes in large numbers in the rural parts of Lower Brompton and the nice houses between Sloane-street and the International Exhibition at South Kensington.
The Popular Guide to London and its Suburbs, 1862