diamond geezer

 Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Reviewing the Fleet

Farringdon facts

Farringdon takes its name from William Farendon, a City goldsmith who snapped up ownership of this area in 1279.
Cowcross Street, which winds east from Farringdon, was so named because cows bound for Smithfield crossed the River Fleet here (until 1855, when the market stopped selling live animals).
Through the 17th and 18th centuries the Fleet here was narrowed to a stinking ditch by encroaching slum dwellings. The notorious Red Lion Inn backed onto the river in West Street. From here a plank could be stretched across the stream to aid the safe passage of fleeing criminals, while murdered corpses were sometimes dropped anonymously into the raging murky torrents below.
Before Farringdon Road was built, the main north-south road in the area was Saffron Hill, named after the herb grown on the slopes above the Fleet in the 18th century. It's still a tiny narrow lane, steep enough to worry the odd cyclist, lined by an incongruous mix of old inns, tatty workshops and spanking new office blocks. (photo)
Back in the 19th century Saffron Hill was a densely-packed area of slum dwellings and it was here that Charles Dickens located Fagin's Den, to which the Artful Dodger first led an innocent new recruit to his fate:
"Although Oliver had enough to occupy his attention in keeping sight of his leader, he could not help bestowing a few hasty glances on either side of the way, as he passed along. A dirtier or more wretched place he had never seen. The street was very narrow and muddy, and the air was impregnated with filthy odours.There were a good many small shops; but the only stock in trade appeared to be heaps of children, who, even at that time of night, were crawling in and out at the doors, or screaming from the inside. The sole places that seemed to prosper amid the general blight of the place, were the public–houses; and in them, the lowest orders of Irish were wrangling with might and main. Covered ways and yards, which here and there diverged from the main street, disclosed little knots of houses, where drunken men and women were positively wallowing in filth; and from several of the door–ways, great ill–looking fellows were cautiously emerging, bound, to all appearance, on no very well–disposed or harmless errands. Oliver was just considering whether he hadn't better run away, when they reached the bottom of the hill. His conductor, catching him by the arm, pushed open the door of a house near Field Lane; and drawing him into the passage, closed it behind them." (Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist, 1837)
Farringdon Road was built on top of the new Fleet sewer in the 1860s, wiping away the old slums. At the same time Farringdon station became the eastern terminus of the world's first Underground railway (but we've mentioned that already). (photo)
If Crossrail is ever built, Farringdon will be a key interchange between Thameslink and the new east-west line. Crossrail's Information Exchange is located in a tiny drop-in centre next to the station.

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream