Victorian London - Publications - Social Investigation/Journalism - Days and Nights in London, by J. Ewing Ritchie, 1880 - Chapter 6

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Is chiefly to be found in Whitechapel, in Westminster, and in Drury Lane. It is in such places the majority of our working men live, especially when they are out of work or given to drink; and the drinking that goes on in these places is often truly frightful, especially where the sexes are mixed, and married people, or men and women supposed to be such, abound. In some of these lodging- houses as many as two or three hundred people live ; and if anything can keep a man down in the world, and render him hopeless as to the future, it is the society and the general [-118-] tone of such places. Yet in them are to be met women who were expected to shine in society- students from the universities - ministers of the Gospel - all herding in these filthy dens like so many swine. It is rarely a man rises from the low surroundings of a low lodging-house. He must be a very strong man if he does. Such a place as a Workman's City has no charms for the class of whom I write. Some of them would not care to live there. It is no attraction to them that there is no public-house on the estate, that the houses are clean, that the people are orderly, that the air is pure and bracing. They have no taste or capacity for the enjoyment of that kind of life. They have lived in slums, they have been accustomed to filth, they have no objection to overcrowding, they must have a public-house next door. This is why they live in St. Giles's or in White-[-119-]chapel, where the sight of their numbers is appalling, or why they crowd into such low neighbourhoods as abound in Drury Lane. Drury Lane is not at all times handy for their work. On the contrary, some of its inhabitants come a long way. One Saturday night I met a man there who told me he worked at Aldershot. Of course to many it is convenient. It is near Covent Garden, where many go to work as early as 4 A.M. ; and it is close to the Strand, where its juvenile population earn their daily food. Ten to one the boy who offers you "the Hevening Hecho," the lass who would fain sell you cigar-lights and flowers, the woman who thrusts the opera programme into your carriage as you drive down Bow Street, the questionable gentleman who, if chance occurs, eases you of your pocket-handkerchief or your purse, the poor girl who, in tawdry finery, walks her weary way backwards [-120-] and forwards in the Strand, whether the weather be wet or dry, long after her virtuous sisters are asleep- all hail from Drury Lane. It has ever been a spot to be shunned. Upwards of a hundred years ago, Gay wrote in his "Trivia"-  
        Oh, may thy virtue guard thee through the roads
        Of Drury's mazy courts and dark abodes.
    It is not of Drury Lane itself, but of its mazy courts that I write. Drury Lane is a shabby but industrious street. It is inhabited chiefly by tradespeople, who, like all of us, have to work hard for their living; but at the back of Drury Lane - on the left as you come from New Oxford Street -  there run courts and streets as densely inhabited as any of the most crowded and filthy parts of the metropolis, and compared with which Drury Lane is respectability itself. A few days since I wanted to hear Happy William in a fine new chapel they [-121-] have got in Little Wild Street. As I went my way, past rag-shops and cow-houses, I found myself in an exclusively Irish population, some of whom were kneeling and crossing themselves at the old Roman Catholic chapel close by, but the larger number of whom were drinking at one or other of the public-houses of the district. At the newspaper-shop at the corner, the only bills I saw were those of The Flag of Ireland, or The Irishman, or The Universe. In about half an hour there were three fights, one of them between women, which was watched with breathless interest by a swarming crowd, and which ended in one of the combatants, a yellow-haired female, being led to the neighbouring hospital. On his native heather an Irishman cares little about cleanliness. As I have seen his rude hut, in which the pigs and potatoes and the children are mixed up in inextricable confusion, I have felt how pressing is the question in [-122-] Ireland, not of Home Rule, but of Home Reform. I admit his children are fat and numerous, but it is because they live on the hill-side, where no pestilent breath from the city ever comes.
    In the neighbourhood of Drury Lane it is different; there is no fresh air there, and the only flowers one sees are those bought at Covent Garden. Everywhere on a summer night (she "has no smile of light" in Drury Lane), you are surrounded by men, women, and children, so that you can scarce pick your way. In Parker Street and Charles Street, and such-like places, the houses seem as if they never had been cleaned since they were built, yet each house is full of people - the number of families is according to the number of rooms. I should say four-and- sixpence a week is the average rent for these tumble-down and truly repulsive apartments. Children play in the middle of the street, amidst the dirt and refuse; coster-[-123-]mongers, who are the capitalists of the district, live here with their donkeys; across the courts is hung the family linen to dry. You sicken at every step. Men stand leaning gloomily against the sides of the houses; women, with unlovely faces, glare at you sullenly as you pass by.
    The City Missionary is, perhaps, the only one who comes here with a friendly word, and a drop of comfort and hope for all. Of course the inhabitants are as little indoors as possible. It may be that the streets are dull and dirty, but the interiors are worse. Only think of a family, with grown- up sons and daughters, all living and sleeping in one room! The conditions of the place are as had morally as they are physically.
    It is but natural that the people drink more than they eat, that the women soon grow old and haggard, and that the little babes, stupefied with gin and beer, die off, [-124-] happily, almost as fast as they are born. Here you see men and women so foul and scarred and degraded that it is mockery to say that they were made in the image of the Maker, and that the inspiration of the Almighty gave them understanding; and you ask is this a civilised land, and are we a Christian people?
    No wonder that from such haunts the girl gladly rushes to put on the harlot's livery of shame, and comes here after her short career of gaiety to die of disease and gin. In some of the streets are forty or fifty lodging-houses for women or men, as the case may be. In some of these lodging-houses there are men who make their thirty shillings or two pounds a week. In others are the broken-down mendicants who live on soup-kitchens and begging. You can see no greater wretchedness in the human form than what you see here. And, as some of [-125-] these lodging-houses will hold ninety people, you may get some idea of their number. When I say that the sitting-room is common to all, that it has always a roaring fire, and that all day, and almost all night long, each lodger is cooking his victuals, you can get a fair idea of the intolerable atmosphere, in spite of the door being ever open. It seemed to me that a large number of the people could live in better apartments if they were so disposed, and if their only enjoyment was not a public-house debauch. The keepers of these houses seemed very fair-spoken men.
    I met with only one rebuff, and that was at a model house in Charles Street. As I airily tapped at the window, and asked the old woman if I could have a bed, at first she was civil enough, but when I ventured to question her a bit she angrily took herself off, remarking that she did not know who I was, and that [-126-] she was not going to let a stranger get information out of her.
    As to myself, I can only say that I had rather lodge in any gaol than in the slums of Drury Lane. The sight of sights in this district is that of the public-houses and the crowds who fill them. On Saturday every bar was crammed; at some you could not get in at the door. The women were as numerous as the men; in the daytime they are far more so; and as almost every woman has a child in her arms, and another or two tugging at her gown, and as they are all formed into gossiping knots, one can imagine the noise of such places.
    D.D. - City readers will know whom I refer to- has opened a branch establishment in Drury Lane, and his place was the only one that was not crowded. I can easily understand the reason - one of the regulations of D.D. 's establishment is that no intoxicated person should be served. I [-127-] have reason to conclude, from a conversation I had some time ago with one of D.D.'s barmen, that the rule is not very strictly enforced; but if it were carried out at all by the other publicans in Drury Lane I am sure there would be a great falling off of business. Almost every woman had a basket; in that basket was a bottle, which, in the course of the evening, was filled with gin for private consumption; and it was quite appalling to see the number of little pale-faced ragged girls who came with similar bottles on a similar errand. When the liquor takes effect, the women are the most troublesome, and use the worst language.
    On my remarking to a policeman that the neighbourhood was, comparatively speaking, quiet, he said there had been three or four rows already, and pointed to a pool of blood as confirmation of his statement. The men seemed all more or less stupidly drunk, and stood up one against another like [-128-] a certain Scotch regiment, of which the officer, when complimented on their sobriety, remarked that they resembled a pack of cards - if one falls, down go all the rest.
    Late hours are the fashion in the neighbourhood of Drury Lane. It is never before two on a Sunday morning that there is quiet there. Death, says Horace, strikes with equal foot the home of the poor and the palace of the prince. This is not true as regards low lodging-houses. Even in Bethnal Green the Sanitary Commission found that the mean age at death among the families of the gentry, professionalists, and richer classes of that part of London was forty-four, whilst that of the families of the artisan class was about twenty- two.
    Everyone - for surely everyone has read Mr. Plimsoll's appeal on behalf of the poor sailors - must remember the description of his experiences in a lodging-house of the better sort, established by the efforts of [-129-] Lord Shaftesbury in Fetter Lane and Hatton Garden. "It is astonishing," says Mr. Plimsoll, "how little you can live on when you divest yourselves of all fancied needs. I had plenty of good wheat bread to eat all the week, and the half of a herring for a relish (less will do, if you can't afford half, for it is a splendid fish), and good coffee to drink, and I know how much - or, rather how little - roast shoulder of mutton you can get for twopence for your Sunday's dinner."
    I propose to write of other lodging- houses- houses of a lower character, and filled, I imagine, with men of a lower class. Mr. Plimsoll speaks in tones of admiration of the honest hard-working men whom he met in his lodging- house. They were certainly gifted with manly virtues, and deserved all his praise. In answer to the question, What did I see there? He replies:         [-130-] "I found the workmen considerate for each other. I found that they would go out (those who were out of employment) day after day, and patiently trudge miles and miles seeking employment; returning night after night unsuccessful and dispirited, only, however, to sally out the following morning with renewed determination. They would walk incredibly long distances to places where they heard of a job of work; and this, not for a few days, but for many, many days. And I have seen such a man sit down wearily by the fire (we had a common room for sitting, and cooking, and everything), with a hungry, despondent look - he had not tasted food all day -  and accosted by another, scarcely less poor than himself, with 'Here, mate, get this into thee,' handing him at the same time a piece of bread and some cold meat, and afterwards some coffee, and adding, 'Better luck to-morrow; keep up your pecker.' [-131-] And all this without any idea that they were practising the most splendid patience, fortitude, courage, and generosity I had ever seen.
    Perhaps the eulogy is a little overstrained. Men, even if they are not working men, do learn to help each other, unless they are very bad indeed; and it does not seem so surprising to me as it does to Mr. Plimsoll that even such men "talk of absent wife and children." Certainly it is the least a husband and the father of a family can do.
    The British working man has his fair share of faults, but just now he has been so belaboured on all sides with praise that he. is getting to be rather a nuisance. In our day it is to be feared he is rapidly degenerating. He does not work so well as he did, nor so long, and he gets higher wages. One natural result of this state of things is that the class just above him [-132-] - the class who, perhaps, are the worst off in the land - have to pay an increased price for everything that they cat and drink or wear, or need in any way for the use of their persons or the comfort and protection of their homes. Another result, and this is much worse, is that the workman spends his extra time and wages in the public-houses, and that we have an increase of paupers to keep and crime to punish. There is no gainsaying admitted facts; there is no use in boasting of the increased intelligence of the working man, when the facts are the other way. As he gets more money and power, he becomes less amenable to rule and reason. Last year, according to Colonel Henderson's report, drunk and disorderly cases had increased from 23,007 to 33,867. It is to be expected the returns of the City police will be equally unsatisfactory. As I write, I take the following from The Echo: In a certain district in London, [-133-] facing each other, are two corner- houses in which the business of a publican and a chemist are respectively carried on. In the course of twenty-five years the houses have changed hands three times, and at the last change the purchase money of the public-house amounted to 14,300, and that of the chemist's business to only 1,000. Of course the publican drives his carriage and pair, while the druggist has to use Shanks's pony.
    But this is a digression. It is of lodging-houses I write. It seems that there are lodging-houses of many kinds. Perhaps some of the best were those of which Mr. Plimsoll had experience. The Peabody buildings are, I believe, not inhabited by poor people at all. The worst, perhaps, are those in Flower and Dean Street, Spitalfields, and the adjacent district. One naturally assumes that no good can come out of Flower and Dean Street, just as it was [-134-] assumed of old that no good could come out of Nazareth. This was illustrated in a curious way the other day. One of the earnest philanthropists connected with Miss Macpherson's Home of Industry at the corner, was talking with an old woman on the way of salvation. She pleaded that on that head she had nothing to learn. She had led a good life, she had never done anybody any harm, she never used bad language, and, in short, she had lived in the village of Morality, to quote John Bunyan, of which Mr. Worldly Wiseman had so much to say when he met poor Christian, just as he had escaped with his heavy burden on his shoulder out of the Slough of Despond, and that would not do for our young evangelist.
    "My good woman," said he sadly, "that is not enough. You may have been all you say, and yet not be a true Christian after .all."
    [-135-] "Of course it ain't," said a man who had been listening to the conversation. "You'll never get to heaven that way. You must believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and then you will be saved."
    "Ah," said the evangelist, "you know that, do you? I hope you live accordingly."
    "Oh yes; I know it well enough," was the reply; "but of course I can't practise it. I am one of the light-fingered gentry, I am, and I live in Flower and Dean Street ;" and away he hurried as if he saw a policeman, and as if he knew that he was wanted.
    The above anecdote, the truth of which I can vouch for, indicates the sort of place Flower and Dean Street is, and the kind of company one meets there. It is a place that always gives the police a great deal of trouble. Close by is a court, even lower in the world than Flower and Dean [-136-] Street, and it is to me a wonder how such a place can be suffered to exist. What with Keane's Court and Flower and Dean Street the police have their hands pretty full day and night, especially the hatter. Robbery and drunkenness and fighting and midnight brawls are the regular and normal state of affairs, and are expected as a matter of course. When I was there last a woman had been taken out of Keane's Court on a charge of stabbing a man she had inveigled into one of the houses, or rather hovels- you can scarcely call them houses in the court. She was let off as the man refused to appear against her, and the chances arc that she will again be at her little tricks. They have rough ways, the men and women of this district; they are not given to stand much upon ceremony; they have little faith in moral suasion, but have unbounded confidence in physical force. A few miles of such a [-137-] place, and London were a Sodom and Gomorrah.
    But I have not yet described the street. We will walk down it, if you please. It is not a long street, nor is it a very new one; but is it a very striking one, nevertheless. Every house almost you come to is a lodging- house, and some of them are very large ones, holding as many as four hundred beds. Men unshaven and unwashed are standing loafing about, though in reality this is the hour when, all over London, honest men are too glad to be at work earning their daily bread. A few lads and men are engaged in the intellectual and fashionable amusement known as pitch and toss. Well, if they play fairly, I do not know that City people can find much fault with them for doing so. They cannot get rid of their money more quickly than they would were they to gamble on the Stock Exchange, or to invest in limited [-138-] liability companies or mines which promise cent. per cent. and never yield a rap but to the promoters who get up the bubble, or to the agent who, as a friend, begs and persuades you to go into them, as he has a lot of shares which he means to keep for himself, but of which, as you are a friend, and as a mark of special favour, he would kindly accommodate you with a few.
    But your presence is not welcomed in the street. You are not a lodger, that is clear. Curious and angry eyes follow you all the way. Of course your presence there- the apparition of anything respectable- is an event which creates alarm rather than surprise.
    In the square mile of which this street is the centre, it is computed are crowded one hundred and twenty thousand of our poorest population- men and women who have sunk exhausted in the battle of life, and who come here to hide their wretched-[-139-]ness and shame, and in too many cases to train their little ones to follow in their steps. The children have neither shoes nor stockings. They are covered with filth, they are innocent of all the social virtues, and here is their happy hunting- ground; they are a people by themselves.
    All round are planted Jews and Germans. In Commercial Street the chances are you may hear as much German as if you were in Deutschland itself. Nor is this all; the place is a perfect Babel. It is a pity that Flower and Dean Street should be, as it were, representative of England and her institutions. It must give the intelligent foreigner rather a shock.
    But place aux dames is my motto, and even in the slums let woman take the position which is her due. In the streets the ladies are not in any sense particular, and can scream long and loudly, particularly when under the influence of liquor. [-140-] They are especially well developed as to their arms, and can defend themselves, if that be necessary, against the rudeness or insolence or the too- gushing affection of the other sex. As to their manners and morals, perhaps the less said about them the better.
    Let us step into one of the lodging-houses which is set apart exclusively for their use. The charge for admission is threepence or fourpence a night, or a little less by the week. You can have no idea of the size of one of these places unless you enter. We will pay a visit in the afternoon, when most of the bedrooms are empty. At the door is a box- office, as it were, for the sale of tickets of admission. Behind extends a large room, provided at one end with cooking apparatus and well supplied with tables and chairs, at which arc seated a few old helpless females, who have nothing to do, [-141-] and don't seem to care much about getting out into the sun. Let us ascend under the guidance of the female who has charge of the place, and who has to sit up till 3 A.M. to admit her fair friends, some of whom evidently keep bad hours and are given rather too much to the habit of what we call making a night of it. Of course most of the rooms are unoccupied, but they are full of beds, which are placed as close together as possible; and this is all the furniture in the room, with the exception of the glass, without which no one, male or female, can properly perform the duties of the toilette. One woman is already thus occupied. In another room, we catch sight of a few still in bed, or sitting listlessly on their beds. They are mostly youthful, and regard us from afar with natural curiosity - some actually seeming inclined to giggle at our intrusion. As it is, we feel thankful that we need not [-142-] remain a moment in such company, and we leave them to their terrible fate.
    A few hours later they will be out in the streets, seeking whom they may devour. Go down Whitechapel way, and you will see them. in shoals haunting the public-houses of the district, or promenading the pavement, or talking to men as sunk in the social scale as themselves. They are fond of light dresses; they eschew bonnets or hats. Some are half- starved; others seem in good condition; and they need be so to stand the life they have to lead. Let us hope Heaven will have more mercy on such as they than man. It cannot be that decent respectable women live in Flower and Dean Street.
    But what of the men? Well, I answer at the first glance, you see that they are a rough lot. Some are simply unfortunate and friendless and poor; others do really work honestly for their living as dock-[-143-]labourers, or as porters in some of the surrounding markets, or at any chance job that may come in their way; many, alas, are of the light- fingered fraternity. The police have but a poor opinion of the honesty of the entire district - but then the police are so uncharitable! The members of the Christian community and others who come here on a Sunday and preach in more than one of the lodging- houses in the street have a better opinion, and certainly can point to men and women reclaimed by their labours, and now leading decent godly lives. It requires some firmness and Christian love to go preaching in these huge lodging- houses, in which one, it seemed to me, might easily be made away with. Even in the daytime they have an ugly look, filled as they are with idle men, who are asleep now, but who will be busy enough by-and-by - when honesty has done its work and respectability is gone to bed. As commercial speculations [-144-] I suppose money is made by these places. The proprietor has but little expense to incur in the way of providing furniture or attendance, and in some cases he supplies refreshments, on which of course he makes a profit. But each lodger is at liberty to cater for himself, or to leave it alone if times are bad and money is scarce. At any rate there is the fire always burning, and the locker in which each lodger may stow away what epicurean delicacy or worldly treasure lie may possess. I have been in prisons and workhouses, and I can say the inmates of such places are much better lodged, and have better care taken of them, and are better off than the poor people of Flower and Dean Street. The best thing that could happen for them would be the destruction of the whole place by fire. Circumstances have much to do with the formation of character, and in a more respectable neighbourhood they [-145-] would become a little more respectable themselves.
    In the lodging- houses at Westminster the inhabitants are of a much more industrious character. In Lant Street, Borough, they are quite the reverse. A man should have his wits about him who attempts to penetrate into the mysteries or to understand the life of a low lodging-house there.
    For ages the Mint in the Borough has gained an unenviable name, not only as the happy hunting-ground of the disreputable, the prostitute, the thief the outcast, the most wretched and the lowest of the poor, yet there was a time when it was great and famous. There that brave and accomplished courtier, the Duke of Suffolk, brought his royal bride, the handsome sister of our Henry VIII. It was there poor Edward VI. came on a visit all the way from Hampton Court. It was the goodly gift of Mary the unhappy and ill- fated to the [-146-] Archbishop of York. Somehow or other Church property seems to be detrimental to the respectability of a neighbourhood, hence the truth of the old adage, "The nearer the church, the farther from God." At any rate this was the case as regards the Mint in the Borough, which in Gay's time had sunk so low that he made it the scene of his "Beggar's Opera," and there still law may be said to be powerless, and there still they point out the house in which lived Jonathan Wild. In the reign of William, our Protestant hero, and George I., our Hanoverian deliverer, a desperate attempt was made to clear the place of the rogues an d vagabonds to whom it afforded shelter and sanctuary; but somehow or other in vain, though all debtors under fifty pounds had their liabilities wiped off by royal liberality. The place was past mending, and so it has ever since remained. It is not a neighbourhood for a lady at any time, but to inhabit it all that is requisite is [-147-]
that, by fair means or foul (in the Mint they are as little particular as to the way in which money is made as they are in the City or on the stock Exchange), you have fourpence to pay for a night's lodging. All round the place prices may be described as low, to suit the convenience of the customer. You are shaved for a penny. Your hair is cut and curled for twopence. The literature for sale may be termed sensational, and the chandlers' shops, which are of the truest character if I may judge by the contents, do a trade which may be described as miscellaneous.
    It is sad to see the successive waves of pauperism rise and burst and disappear. On they come, one after another, as fast as the eye can catch them, and far faster than the mind can realise all the hidden and complex causes of which they are the painful result. One asks, Is this always to be so? Is there to be no end to this supply, of which we see [-148-]only the surface, as it were? Are all the lessons of the past in vain? Cannot Science, with all its boasted arts, remove the causes, be they what they may, and effect a cure? Is the task too appalling for philanthropy? Some such thoughts came into my head as I looked upon the dense mass of men and women, destitute of work and food, who, at an early hour on the first Sunday in the New Year were collected from all the lodging-houses in the unpretentious but well-known building known as the Gray's Yard Ragged Church and Schools, in a part of London not supposed, like the Seven Dials, to be the home of the wretched, and close by the mansions of the rich and the great. When I entered, as many as seven hundred had been got together, and there was a crowd three hundred strong, equally hungry, equally destitute, and equally worthy of Christian benevolence. On entering, each person, as soon as he or she had taken his or her seat, [-149-] was treated to two thick slices of bread-and-butter and a cup of coffee, and at the close of the service there was the usual distribution of a pound meat- pie and a piece of cake to each individual, and coffee ad libitum. It may be added that the cost of this breakfast does not come out of the funds of the institution, but is defrayed by special subscriptions, and that Mr. John Morley had sent, as he always does, a parcel of one thousand Gospels for distribution. But what has this got to do, asks the reader, with the thought which, as I say, the sight suggested to me? Why, everything. In the course of the morning, Mr. F. Bevan, the chairman, asked those who had been there before to hold up their hands, and there was not one hand held up in answer to the question. There was a similar negative response when it was asked of that able-bodied mass before me- for there were no very old men in the crowd - as to [-150-]  whether any of them were in regular work. This year's pauperism is, then, but the crop of the year. Relieved to-day, next year another crowd will follow; and so the dark and sullen waves, mournfully moaning and wailing, of the measureless ocean of human sorrow and suffering, and want and despair, ever come and ever go. The Christian Church is the lifeboat sailing across this. ocean in answer to the cry for help, and rescuing them that are ready to perish. There are cynics who say even all this Christmas feasting does no good. It is a fact that on Christmas week there is a sudden and wonderful exodus from the workhouses around London.
    We cannot get improved men and women till we have improved lodging-houses. Recently it was calculated that in St. Giles's parish (once it was St. Giles's-in-the-Fields), there were no less than 3,000 families living in single rooms. Again, in [-152-] the parish of Holborn, there were quite 12,000, out of a population of 44,000, living in single rooms. Under such circumstances, what can we expect but physical and moral degradation? Healthy life is impossible for man or woman, boy or girl. A Divine Authority tells us, men do not gather grapes of thorns or figs of thistles. As I write, however, a ray of light reaches me. It appears nearly 10,000 persons are now reaping the benefit of the Peabody Fund. In the far east there are buildings at Shadwell and Spitalfields; in the far west at Chelsea, in Westminster, and at Grosvenor Road, Pimlico -  the latter perfectly appointed edifice alone accommodating 1,952 persons. As many as 768 are lodged in the Islington block, and on the south side of the Thames there are Peabody buildings at Bermondsey, in the Blackfriars Road, Stamford Street, and Southwark Street. One room in the Peabody buildings is never [-152-] let to two persons. A writer in The Daily News says: Advantage has been taken by the Peabody trustees to purchase land brought into the market by the operation of the Artisans and Labourers' Dwellings Act. At the present moment nineteen blocks of building are in course of removal either by the City or the Metropolitan Board of Works. They are situate at Peartree Court Clerkenwell; Goulston Street, Whitechapel; St. George the Martyr, Southwark; Bedfordbury; Whitechapel and Limehouse, near the London Docks; High Street, Islington Essex Road, Islington; Whitecross Street; Old Pye Street, Westminster; Great Wild Street, Drury Lane; Marylebone, hard by the Edgware Road; Wells Street, Poplar; Little Coram Street; and Great Peter Street, Westminster. All these are under the control of the Metropolitan Board of Works. The remaining three - at Petticoat Square, at Golden Lane, and at Barbican - .
[-153-]are being removed by the Corporation of the City of London. It is estimated that forty-one acres of land will be laid bare by this clearance - a space capable of lodging properly at least as many thousand people. There are of course other helpers in the same direction as the Peabody trustees, without being quite in the same sense public bodies administering a large fund for a special purpose, with the single object of extending its sphere of usefulness in accordance with public policy. Some of the companies, however, work for five per cent. return, and their efforts to construct suitable dwellings for workpeople and labourers are very valuable. The Improved Industrial Dwellings Company has buildings at Bethnal Green Road, at Shoreditch, at Willow Street, and close to the goods station of the Great Northern Railway, besides two blocks near the City Road. The Metropolitan Association has blocks of [-154-] buildings in Whitechapel, and in many spots farther west, as have the Marylebone Association, the London Labourers' Dwellings Society, and other bodies of similar kind. The success of Miss Octavia Hill in encouraging the construction of dwellings of the class required is well known, as are the buildings erected by Sir Sydney Waterlow, Mr. G. Cutt, and Mr. Newson. It is almost needless to add that the Baroness Burdett-Coutts has taken a warm interest in this important movement, as a building at Shoreditch now accommodating seven hundred persons will testify.