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Charles Spurgeon’s Londoners

March 9, 2014
by the gentle author

Charles Spurgeon the Younger, son of the Evangelist Charles Haddon Spurgeon, took over the South St Baptist Chapel in Greenwich in the eighteen-eighties and commissioned an unknown photographer to make lantern slides of the working people of Greenwich that he could use in his preaching. We shall never know exactly how Spurgeon showed these pictures, taken between 1884 and 1887, but – inadvertently – he was responsible for the creation of one of the earliest series of documentary portraits of Londoners.

Champion Pie Man – W.Thompson, Pie Maker of fifty years, outside his shop in the alley behind Greenwich Church

Hokey-Pokey Boy – August Bank Holiday, Stockwell St, Greenwich

Knife Grinder – posed cutting out a kettle bottom from a tin sheet

Rabbit Seller

Toy Seller – King William St outside Royal Naval College, Greenwich

Ginger Cakes Seller – King St, near Greenwich Park


Shrimp Sellers – outside Greenwich Park

Crossing Sweeper (& News Boy) – Clarence St, Greenwich

Sherbert Seller – outside Greenwich Park

Third Class Milkman – carrying two four-gallon cans on a yoke, King William’s Walk, Greenwich

Second Class Milkman – with a hand cart and seventeen-gallon churn

Master Milkman – in his uniform, outside Royal Naval College, Greenwich

Chairmender – Corner of Prince Orange Lane, Greenwich

Kentish Herb Woman – Greenwich High Rd

Muffin Man


Try Your Weight – outside Greenwich Park


News Boy (& Crossing Sweeper) – delivering The Daily News at 7:30am near Greenwich Pier

Old Clo’ Man – it was a crime to dispose of infected clothing during the Smallpox epidemics of  the eighteen-eighties and the Old Clo’ Man plied a risky trade.

Blind Fiddler – outside Crowders’ Music Hall Greenwich

You may also like to take a look at

John Thomson’s Street Life in London

Henry Mayhew’s Street Traders

9 Responses leave one →
  1. March 9, 2014

    Great photographs – I am always interested in anything to do with the Spurgeon family- my great grandmother attended Spurgeon’s Bible Class [that’s Spurgeon Senior] and then a hundred years later, my husband trained at his College, now situated in South Norwood!

  2. isa permalink
    March 9, 2014

    Very interesting photographs I know Greenwich very well and enjoyed Greenwich when living nearby it still has a lot of atmosphere also Deptford especially the street market on Saturdays. Very lively and full of characters.

  3. March 9, 2014

    A remarkable series of craftsmen portraits from more than a century ago! Pay attention to the small double jobber boy … 🙂

    Love & Peace

  4. Beryl Happe permalink
    March 9, 2014

    Fabulous pictures once again..Thank you Gentle Author.

    Beryl Happe

  5. Barbara permalink
    March 9, 2014

    Interesting to have three classes of milkman.
    My uncle was a milkman either just before the 2ndWW or just after. He had to chase his horse round the field and hitch to the cart before he could start.

  6. Susan permalink
    March 10, 2014

    I find these kinds of portraits so poignant. One has a sense of what a hardscrabble life many of these people endured.

  7. March 12, 2014

    How fascinating! Where are the original photos now?

  8. Jana permalink
    March 13, 2014

    Great pictures. I wonder if the child in the third and last picture is the same one?

  9. John van Aitken permalink
    July 24, 2016

    Can you tell me which archive / library this photo collection is held in today?

    Many thanks.

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