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Charles Spurgeon’s Londoners

April 22, 2024
by the gentle author

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


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 street traders 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 – perhaps inadvertently – they became responsible for the creation of one of the earliest series of documentary portraits of Londoners.


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

Henry Mayhew’s Street Traders

4 Responses leave one →
  1. April 22, 2024

    I adore these old photographs. I find the clothes and the scenes of the day really help me to imagine life in Victorian London. I write about my Victorian ancestors and images such as these, help me to add authenticity. I don’t possess many photographs of my ancestors other than one of my ballet dancing great great aunt and those who had prison mugshots taken, of which there were a few. Thank you GA for these helpful images of the more ordinary community of the time.

  2. April 22, 2024

    My great grandmother used to walk from her home in Bermondsey up to Elephant and Castle, to hear Charles, Haddon Spurgeon preach on Sundays, and to attend a midweek Bible Class.

  3. Christine permalink
    April 22, 2024

    Very moving photos and I do wish some of these trades would come back! You never really see people walking the street plying their simple trades anymore 😢

  4. April 22, 2024

    Interesting photo series. And it makes you realise that everything we get in our supermarkets today was available on the street in earlier times…

    Love & Peace

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