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The weather is so very sharp and the frost so great, that the river here is quite frozen over, so that for these three days last past, people have gone over it, in several places, and many booths are built on it between Lambeth aud Westminster, where they roast meat and sell drink.–The Duke of York (James II.) to the Prince of Orange (William III.), January 4, 1683-1684. There is little chance of the Thames being frozen over again, since the removal of Old London Bridge, whose piers, by obstructing the passage of the floating ice, caused it to coagulate into one mass; the current likewise is so much stronger since the bridge was removed and the river embanked for a considerable distance. The bridges were opened to the public in the following order : Old London in 1209; Old Westminster in 1750; Old Blackfriars in 1769; Old Battersea in 1771 ; Vauxhall in 1816; Waterloo in 1817 ; Southwark in 1819; New London in 1831; Hungerford Suspension in 1846 ; Chelsea Suspension in 1856; Lambeth in 1862 ; Charing Cross (which replaced Hungerford Bridge) in 1863; New Westminster in 1862 ; New Blackfriars in 1869; Albert Suspension in 1873; and New Battersea in 1890. The Thames Tunnel was opened in 1843. [See all these names.] Taylor, the Water Poet, was a licensed sculler or waterman on the Thames in the reign of James I. The scene of Dryden's Essay on Dramatic Poesy is laid on a boat on the Thames at London. It was on August 1, 1716, that Doggett, the actor, first gave "an orange-coloured livery with a badge representing Liberty,” to be rowed for by six watermen that are out of their time within the year past, "they are to row from London Bridge to Chelsea,” the gift being in honour of the accession of the house of Hanover, and “it will be continued,” as he announced, " annually on the same day for ever,” a continuance for which he made due provision in his will. The first regatta seen in this country took place on the Thames before Ranelagh Gardens, June 23, 1775. The first steamboat seen on the Thames was in 1816. The Thames was formerly famous for its water dialect, or mob language, one of the privileges of the river assumed by watermen, of which Ned Ward and Tom Brown have both left specimens, and of which Fielding complains so touchingly in his voyage to Lisbon.
Leatherhead. There's no talking to these watermen, they will have the last word. -Ben Jonson.
May 14, 1669.-— My wife and I by water, with my brother, as high as Fulham, talking and singing and playing the rogue with the western bargemen, about the women of Woolwich which mads them. (See also May 28, 1669. 1- Pepys.
Many ladies will take a broad jest cheerfully as from the watermen. – Wycherley, Dedication of Plain Dealer.
To the knight's great surprise, as he gave the good night to two or three young fellows a little before our landing, one of them instead of returning the civility asked us what green old Put we had in the boat, and whether he was not ashamed to go a wenching at his years ? with a great deal of the like Thames ribaldry. Sir Roger seemed a little shocked at first, but at length assuming a face of magistracy told us, That if he were a Middlesex Justice he would make such vagrants know that her Majesty's subjects were to be no more abused by water than by land.— The Spectator, No. 383.
It is well-known that there was formerly a rude custom for those who were sail
ing upon the Thames to accost each other as they passed in the most abusive language they could invent; generally however with as much satirical humour as they were capable of producing. Johnson was once eminently successful in this species of contest. A fellow having attacked him with some coarse raillery, Johnson answered him thus, “Sir, your wife, under pretence of keeping a bawdy house, is a receiver of stolen goods.”—Boswell. The sewerage of London, and the restless state of the stream from the number of steamboats passing up and down, have materially contributed to poison the purity of the water. Yet the Thames was once famous for its fish. “What should I speake," says Harrison, in 1586, “ of the fat and sweet salmons, daily taken in this streame, and that in such plentie (after the time of the smelt be past) as no river in Europe is able to exceed it."1 The first salmon of the season was invariably carried to the King's table, by the fishermen of the Thames; and a sturgeon caught below London Bridge was carried to the table of the Lord Mayor ; if above bridge, to the table of the King or Lord High Admiral.2 Evelyn records the curious circumstance that a whale 58 feet in length was killed in the Thames between Deptford and Greenwich on June 3, 1658. The wind had been blowing northerly for nearly six months. Now, however, it is very different; a salmon has not been taken in the Thames for many years; and the produce of the river in and near London is confined to flounders, eels, and whitebait. The eels are small, but sweet; and the whitebait is almost peculiar to the Thames. (See Blackwall; York House.] The fishing-tackle shops in Crooked Lane, leading to Old Swan Stairs, where the Thames fishermen lived who attended on the London disciples of Izaak Walton were famous, but the shoals of roach that frequented the starlings of Old London Bridge were of rare occurrence before the removal of the bridge, and are now no longer to be seen. The impurity of the stream has driven bathers away—yet it was once very different. Lord Northampton, in the reign of Charles I., was taken ill of the colic, of which he died, while washing himself in the Thames, after he had waited on the King at supper, and had supped himself. Blood concealed himself among the reeds at Battersea, in order to shoot King Charles II. while bathing in the Thames over against Chelsea. One of the darling recreations of Sir Dudley North was swimming in the Thames.
He used that so much, that he became quite a master of it. He could live in the water an afternoon with as much ease as others walk upon land. He shot the bridge [old London Bridge] divers times at low water, which showed him not only active, but intrepid ; for courage is required to bear the very sight of that tremendous cascade, which few can endure to pass in a boat.-Roger North's Lives of the Norths, 8vo, 1826, vol. ii. p. 294. The polite Earl of Chesterfield directed a letter to Lord Pembroke (the collector), who was always swimming, “To the Earl of Pembroke, in the Thames, over against Whitehall.” 3 “Last week,” says Lord
1 Harrison's Description of England before 21, 1607; Dugdale's Troubles, fol. 1681, p. 580. Holinshed, ed. 1586, p. 46.
3 Walpole to Lady Craven, November 27, 2 MS. in Lord Steward's office, dated February 1786.
hester Houste stood the side, becomes the right
Byron, the poet, in a letter dated August 11, 1807, “I swam in the Thames from Lambeth through the two bridges, Westminster and Blackfriars, a distance, including the different turns and tacks made on the way, of three miles.” The London visitor should make a point of descending the Thames by a steamboat from Chelsea to Blackwall (the work of an hour and a half), and of observing the following places, principally on the left or Middlesex bank : Chelsea Old Church, Chelsea Hospital, Vauxhall Bridge; Penitentiary; (right) St. Thomas's Hospital ; Lambeth Palace; (left) church of St. John's, Westminster, and Houses of Parliament, Westminster Bridge; York Water-gate, the Adelphi Terrace (Garrick's house is the centre one), Waterloo Bridge; Somerset House, Temple Gardens, and roof of Middle Temple Hall, St. Bride's Church-the steeple one of Wren's great works; Whitefriars, the site of Alsatia, Blackfriars Bridge ; here is a very fine view of St. Paul's and the City churches; observe how grandly Bow steeple, with its dragon on the top, towers above them all, and commands attention by the harmony of its proportions ; Southwark Bridge; here the right or Surrey side, commonly called the Bankside, becomes interesting from its fine associations—here stood the Globe Theatre, the Bear Garden and Winchester House, and (right) here is the church of St. Saviour's, Southwark. You now pass under London Bridge, and should observe (left) the steeple of St. Magnus and the Monument. Here begins the Pool. Observe.-(left) The Tower, St. Katherine's Docks; (right) Rotherhithe Church; here you pass over the Thames Tunnel ; (right) Greenwich Hospital, one of Wren's great masterpieces; the Observatory at Greenwich, Blackwall Reach, etc. (See all these places, Greenwich excepted. See also Folly ; Pool; Cuckold's Point, etc.]
Thames Embankment (The.) The embanking of the Thames formed a part of Sir Christopher Wren's scheme for the rebuilding of London after the Great Fire, and since then has figured in most large plans of London improvements, but it was only in 1862 that a Bill was obtained and the necessary works commenced by the Metropolitan Board of Works for the construction of an embankment on the north bank of the river from Blackfriars Bridge to Westminster Bridge. Since then two further embankments, on the south bank from Westminster Bridge to Vauxhall, and on the north bank from Battersea Bridge to Chelsea Bridge, have been constructed.
The Victoria Embankment, the official name given to the northern embankment between Blackfriars and Westminster Bridges, was commenced in 1862 and opened in 1870 by the Prince of Wales as the representative of the Queen. This magnificent piece of engineering, designed by and carried out under the supervision of Sir Joseph Bazalgette, engineer to the Metropolitan Board of Works, consists of a solid granite river wall 8 feet thick, with foundations carried down from 16 to 30 feet below low-water mark. About 14 mile in length, backed by a roadway 100 feet wide and following the easy curve of the river, with Blackfriars Bridge at the one end and the Houses of Parliament
at the other, Waterloo Bridge and Somerset House midway, and all along the wide and animated Thames, the Victoria Embankment forms perhaps the finest and most characteristic roadway in the metropolis. Underneath the roadway runs the Metropolitan District Railway, and between this and the wall itself are carried two tunnels, the lower the great intercepting or low-level sewer of the main drainage system, the upper for water and gas pipes and telegraph wires, which can thus be repaired without necessitating the breaking up of the roadway. From the river the Embankment is marked by the simplicity and dignity befitting such a work. Beyond the massive bronze lions' heads, holding large mooring-rings, which are placed on the pedestals at intervals of 60 feet, the ornament is reserved for the landing-places. And even here, with the exception of the proposed sculptural groups, it is wholly constructional. The cost was about £2,000,000. The space gained from the river, and which was formerly at low tide a pestiferous slime, varies in width from 200 to 450 feet, and amounts to about 30 acres. A part of this reclaimed land has been laid out as public gardens, and in them have been erected various statues of public men, none of which, however, call for special notice. The Embankment is gradually becoming lined with more or less pretentious buildings, both public and private. At the Blackfriars end is the large building occupied by De Keyser's Royal Hotel; a little farther along we come to the new City of London School and Sion College ; then follow the offices of the London School Board ; the Examination Hall of the Royal Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons, the Savoy Hotel, and other new buildings occupied as offices. At the corner of the new approach, Northumberland Avenue (which see), is the Avenue Theatre (opened in March 1882); and at the Westminster Bridge end were for many years the unfinished walls of the ill-fated Grand Opera House. The new Police Offices, to be called New Scotland Yard, are now (1890) in course of completion. At the foot of Cecil Street stands the Egyptian obelisk, or so called Cleopatra's Needle, presented to the English Government by Mehemet Ali, but, owing to the difficulty of removal, it was allowed to remain lying in the sand of Alexandria until 1877, when the public-spirited munificence of Sir Erasmus Wilson (who spent £10,000 for the purpose) and the engineering skill of Mr. Dixon succeeded in removing all difficulties and transferring the unwieldy gift to its present site on the Embankment.
Together with its broad and handsome approach on the City sideQueen Victoria Street-the Victoria Embankment opens up a wide and convenient roadway from the heart of the City to the seat of Legislature at Westminster.
The Albert Embankment, on the south side of the river from Westminster Bridge to Vauxhall, is almost identical in character and equal in dignity and grandeur with that just described. It was opened in 1870, is about 4300 feet long, with a roadway 60 feet wide, and was constructed at a cost of a little over £1,000,000. Flanking the
Westminster end of this embankment is the imposing range of buildings forming St. Thomas's Hospital, but after passing Lambeth Palace and Doulton's Pottery Works there is nothing worthy of note.
The Chelsea Embankment, from Battersea Bridge to Chelsea Bridge, was finished in 1874. It is faced with mill-stone grit towards the river, is about a mile long, and cost about £250,000. Underneath the roadway is the main sewer.
Thames Street, on the north bank of the THAMES, stretches from Blackfriars Bridge to the Tower, and is rather more than a mile in length. That part of the street below London Bridge is called Lower Thames Street, that above, Upper Thames Street. The eastern end of Thames Street was sometimes called Petty Wales (which see), and also occasionally Galley Row. That part of Thames Street which lies in Bridge Ward formerly bore the name of Stockfishmonger Row.
Some excavations made for sewers in Thames Street led to discoveries which confirm the truth of Fitz Stephen's assertion that London was formerly walled on the water side, and although in his time the wall was no longer standing, at least in an entire state, there was probably enough left to trace its course by. This wall was first noticed at the foot of Lambeth Hill, forming an angle with Thames Street, and extending, with occasional breaks, to Queenhithe ; and some walling of similar character, probably a part of the above, has been noticed in Thames Street, opposite Queen Street. It was from eight to ten feet thick, and about eight deep, reckoning the top at nine feet from the present street level, and composed of ragstone and fint, with alternate layers of red and yellow, plain and curve-edged tiles, cemented by mortar, as firm and hard as the tiles, from which it could not be separated. For the foundation strong oaken piles were used, upon which was laid a stratum of chalk and stones, and then a course of hewn sand-stones, from three to four feet long, by two and a half in width.-C. Roach Smith, Arch. Journal, vol. i. p. 114.
I had rather live all my days among the cheesemongers' shops in Thames Street, than pass such another spring in this filthy country. - The Connoisseur, June 13, 1754.
John Chaucer, the poet's father, was a vintner in Thames Street, and the poet himself lived there for many years. In the 14th century the river front of Thames Street exhibited numerous handsome buildings, but these were destroyed by the fire and not rebuilt.
March 19, 1668.—Walked all along Thames Street, which I have not done since it was burned, as far as Billingsgate ; and there do see a brave street likely to be, many brave houses being built, and of them a great many by Mr. Jaggard ; but the raising of the street will make it mighty fine. - Pepys.
In Thames Street stood formerly Baynard's Castle, and the Steelyard (which see).
Observe—In Upper Thames Street, walking eastward to The Tower : church of St. Benet, Paul's Wharf, rebuilt after the fire, by Wren: here Inigo Jones is buried ; churchyard of St. Peter's, Paul's Wharf (this church was destroyed in the Great Fire, and not rebuilt); Trig Lane ; Castle Baynard (name alone); Broken Wharf ; Queenhithe ; warehouse, No. 46, as a successful adaptation of Gothic to ordinary business purposes, architect W. Burges. Church of St. James, Garlickhithe ; Vintners'
1 Stow, p. 52.