A contrast of affluent buildings and areas combined with slums which were heavily overcrowded and home to some of the poorest people in Britain. Victorian London was really starting to gather economic pace but there were still residents living in some of the worst conditions imaginable. The population of London started to rise rapidly in the Victorian era from around 1 million at the turn of the 19th century to well over 6,000,000 people a century later. Many people from all over the UK had moved into the bigger cities from the country and London was one of the main areas. Although London was being developed at a rapid pace, the city was unable to look after the basic needs of a great deal of the people living there.
Sewage and Stench
There were massive amounts of raw sewage being dumped into the River Thames, which combined with the general poor sanitation of the people and the coal fires that they were using, led to a stench which engulfed the streets of London. Queen Victoria’s apartments in Buckingham palace were even ventilated using the standard sewer system of London which meant that even she was well aware of the sanitation and smells of the city.
Over 2000km of pipes and tunnels were then added over time by an engineer called Joseph Bazalgette. This would be a battle to try and calm the outbreaks of disease resulting in many deaths from cholera and other nasty outbreaks. He went on to help and design many other useful structures around the city including many of the bridges.
Architecture and Grand Design
Many other design masterpieces were happening alongside and before this which includes many of the affluent avenues and areas of London which still stand proud today including Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus and regent street to name a few. Tourists flock to areas such as these from all round the world, a testament to the architects that designed and built them including John Nash, who is also famed for the transformation of Buckingham House into a palace! In 1830 royal stable land east of the palace was used to create Trafalgar Square, with the National Gallery being created in 1832.
Houses of Parliament and Big Ben
1834 saw a massive fire which destroyed the Houses of Parliament, they were eventually replaced by the amazing gothic style houses of Parliament we see today. Big ben, the clock which resides over the Houses of Parliament was created in 1859.
Hub for Trading Ships
London was also full to the brim with trading boats and ships from all over the world. The Thames meant that these ships could easily access London and trade with other cities over the globe.
At one time London had the most shipyards than any other area in the world. This made London a hub of the expanding British Empire and allowed us to trade quicker and better than any other nation. A big part of Britain’s rapid expansion.
London Railways and The Underground
The Victorian era was heavily involved in the railway boom that was stretching up and down Britain. In 1836 London’s first railway was built which ran from London Bridge to Greenwich. This was followed by other major stations being created and eventually in 1863 lead to the underground network used by millions throughout the day and night today, an important system originally created in the Victorian times!
In 1848 because of The Irish Potato Famine, over 100,000 immigrants came to London looking for a better life for their families. At one time they made up around 20% of the population in the capital city.