Back in 2013 I posted a series of posts based on the 1930 edition of Ward Lock & Co’s “ Illustrated Guide Book to London”. For those who have followed this blog for a while it should come as no surprise that I also have in my possession the 1910 edition of Ward Lock & Co’s illustrated guide book for the same city. And just for the record, I have the 1948 and 1956 editions too.
This will be the first post based on the 1910 edition which is surprisingly enough more richly illustrated than the one from 1930. And we start of course with the introduction and work our way through the most interesting parts of the book – Ted
No words could better serve as introduction to a Guide to London than those of Heine : “ I have seen the greatest wonder which the world can show to the astonished spirit. I have seen it, and am more astonished than ever–and still there remains in my memory that stone forest of houses, and amid them the rushing stream of faces, of living human faces, with all their motley passions, all their terrible impulses of love, of hunger, and of hate."
In this volume we can attempt only to direct the stranger’s footsteps through the “stone forest of houses" "the rushing stream of faces ”–with which no building can compare in interest–he must study for himself. Certainly in no city of ancient or modern days has there been such “fullness of life” as that which crowds the streets of the Metropolis at this period of our history, and if Dr. Johnson were alive to-day we can well believe that he would enjoy the traditional “walk down Fleet Street" With even more than his accustomed relish.
The Sightseer’s London
Although the Metropolis is so vast that it would take the best part of a lifetime to traverse its 10,000 streets, and another lifetime to know intimately every part of the suburbs, the features of interest appealing especially to sightseers are, with few exceptions, conﬁned to a central area, for the most part north of the Thames, measuring roughly some ﬁve miles from west to east, and three from north to south. We are far indeed from saying that there is not anything of interest outside this area, but we do say that the visitor, however hardy and determined, who has methodically and conscientiously “done” the orthodox sights, and taken a trip or two by way of relaxation to places like Windsor and Hampton Court, will have little heart or shoe-leather left for Islington and Kilburn, and other places in the “Middle Ring" unless the calls of business or of friendship lure him thither. We have accordingly dealt fully with the West End and the City, and outlined all the principal excursions; but the reader who is in search of detailed information respecting London’s suburban dormitories and nurseries must, we fear, be referred to volumes of greater capacity. We have done our best to squeeze a quart- ought we not rather to say a hogshead? -into a pint pot, but something has perforce been spilt in the process.
London at a Glance
It will greatly assist the stranger to keep his bearings in the crowded streets of Central London if he forms at the outset a mental picture of the direction and intersections of the principal thoroughfares. To this end we have prepared a special sketch map showing “ London at a Glance,“ believing that this will be more helpful than pages of elaborate directions. Bear in mind that the river runs from west to east, with a syphon-like northward bend from Vauxhall Bridge to Waterloo; and that the two chief thoroughfares, Oxford Street with its continuations, and the Strand with its continuations, follow approximately the same course from west to east, eventually meeting at the Bank of England. Connection north and south between these two great thoroughfares is provided by Regent Street in the west; by Kingsway and Aldwych, between Holborn and the Strand; and by Chancery Lane at the City boundary.
“From the top of a ‘Bus, Gentlemen"
“The way to see London", said Mr. W. E. Gladstone once to some American tourists, “ is from the top of a bus- the top of a ‘bus, gentlemen." A shilling or two judiciously invested in penny and two penny fares will enable all the main thorough-fares to be traversed, and a much wider range of view will be secured than would be possible from a cab or carriage. The destinations of the various lines of omnibuses are clearly shown on the front and rear, and the chief places passed en route on the panels. Care should be taken to ascertain whether the omnibus is going to or from the point the visitor is desirous of reaching.
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