Charles Booth in Spitalfields
Studying Charles Booth’s notebooks from his research for the Survey into Life & Labour of the People of London (1886-1903), I came upon the volume for Spitalfields from Spring 1898 when he walked through many of the streets and locations of the Spitalfields Nippers around the same time Horace Warner took his photographs. So I thought I would select descriptions from Booth’s notebooks and place Warner’s pictures alongside, comparing their views of the same subject.
March 18th Friday 1898 – Walk with Sergeant French
Walked round a district bounded to the North by Quaker St, on the East by Brick Lane and on the West by Commercial St, being part of the parish of Christ Church, Spitalfields.
Back of big house, Quaker St
Starting at the Police Station in Commercial St, East past St Stephen’s Church into Quaker St. Rough, Irish.Brothels on the south side of the street past the Court called New Square. Also a Salvation Army ‘Lighthouse’ which encourages the disreputable to come this way. The railway has now absorbed all the houses on the North side as far as opposite Pool Square. Wheler St also Rough Irish, does not look bad, shops underneath.
Courts South of Quaker St – Pope’s Head Court, lately done up and repaired, and a new class in them since the repairs, poor not rough. One or two old houses remaining with long weavers’ windows in the higher storeys.
New Square, Rough, one one storey house, dogs chained in back garden…
Pool Square, three storeyed houses, rough women about, Irish. One house with a wooden top storey, windows broken. This is the last of an Irish colony, the Jews begin to predominate when Grey Eagle St is reached. These courts belong to small owners who generally themselves occupy one of the houses in the courts themselves.
Grey Eagle St Jews on East side, poor. Gentiles, rough on West side, mixture of criminal men in street. Looks very poor, even the Jewish side but children booted, fairly clean, well clothed and well fed. Truman’s Brewery to the East side. To Corbet’s Court, storeyed rough Irish, brothels on either side of North end.
Children booted but with some very bad boots, by no means respectable….
Great Pearl St Common lodging houses with double beds – thieves and prostitutes.
South into Little Pearl St and Vine Court, old houses with long small-paned weavers windows to top storeys, some boarded up in the middle. On the West side, lives T Grainger ‘Barrows to Let’
Parsley Season in Crown Court
Crown Court, two strong men packing up sacks of parsley…
Carriage Folk of Crown Court – Tommy Nail & Willie Dellow
The Great Pearl St District remains as black as it was ten years ago, common lodging houses for men, women and doubles which are little better than brothels. Thieves, bullies and prostitutes are their inhabitants. A thoroughly vicious quarter – the presence of the Cambridge Music Hall in Commercial St makes it a focussing point for prostitutes
Detail of Charles Booth’s Descriptive Map of London Poverty 1889
I shall be showing Horace Warner’s SPITALFIELDS NIPPERS and telling the story behind the photographs at WILTON’S MUSIC HALL next week on Wednesday 21st January 7:30pm, as part of 5 x 15 STORIES – five speakers, fifteen minutes each – alongside Franny Armstrong, Lisa Hannigan, Mike Figgis & Viktor Wynd.