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World City Exhibit
The Victorian Walk is an exhibit at the Museum of London that takes you through the streets during the Victorian Era in London. The walk brings you past multiple different streets with shops lined up along each side of the street. There is music playing in the background that replays the sounds from walking through the busy streets.
- 1 Victorian Walk
- 1.1 Overview
- 1.2 Exhibits in the Victorian Walk
- 1.2.1 Toyshop
- 1.2.2 Tobacconist
- 1.2.3 Barber
- 1.2.4 Public House
- 1.2.5 Glass Showroom
- 1.2.6 Barrel Organ
- 1.2.7 Tea and Coffee Warehouse
- 1.2.8 Engraver
- 1.2.9 Watchmaker
- 1.2.10 Public Urinal
- 1.2.11 Baker's Cart
- 1.2.12 Grocer
- 1.2.13 Pharmacy
- 1.2.14 Milliner
- 1.2.15 Tailor
- 1.2.16 Fancy Stationer
- 1.2.17 Pawnbroker
- 1.2.18 Bank Clerks' Office
- 1.2.19 Bank Manager's Office
Exhibits in the Victorian Walk
Victorian children saved their farthings to buy 'penny toys' from street sellers and dazzling toy arcades such as Lowther's on the Strand. With rows of small shops like this one, Lowther's was an 'Aladdin fairy palace' of expensive train sets, dolls, and lead soldiers, 'all the glories and wonders a child's fancy can conceive'.
Tobacconists sold blends of loose tobacco, snuff, cigarettes, and smoking accessories. Habit were changing. Rolled cigarettes were available and briar-root pipes replaced clay ones. Wooden figures advertised what was on sale: a Scottish Highlander, that snuff was sold; a Blackamoor: tobacco from America.
A barber's services from men included haircuts, shaves, and shampooing. Hair was also 'singed'. A lit wax taper was passed over the ends and the burnt tips rubbed off to seal and strengthen the hair. Barbers often stored customers' personal shaving mugs at the back of their shop. They also sold tobacco and pipes.
Working men in London relaxed in the 'pub'. It was the heart of the local community. They met with friends, played darts, and attended political meetings. Children sat outside, awaiting their parents, or were sent in to buy beer for drinking at home. Many pubs had a public bar and a saloon, More comfortable, saloons were favored by couples.
James Powell and Sons' showroom was attached to their glasshouse off Fleet Street in Whitefriars. Their table and decorative glass were famed for their purity, subtle colors and delicate decoration. They also sold stained glass, mosaics and expensive Wedgwood hand-painted creamware. The 'Eve' mosaic is a copy of one Powell's made for St. Paul's Cathedral.
Introduced by Italian immigrants, barrel organs could be programmed to play up to 12 popular tunes of the day. By 1900, there were nearly 500 on London's noisy streets, competing with bagpipe players, singers, clowns, performing monkeys and knife swallowers.
Tea and Coffee Warehouse
Goods from around the world landed at London's port. They were taken from the docks to the city's many warehouses. Tea was imported from China, India, and Ceylon. Cocoa and coffee came from Africa and South America. After being graded and weighed, tea was blended and coffee was roasted and grounded for distribution to grocers, tea rooms, and hotels.
Mr. Elkington on Lamb's Condult Street made visiting cards, business cards, invitations and book plates. He might have spent half a day engraving one intricate design on a cooper plate for printing. Engravers usually worked alone in small workshops that smelt strongly of the inks, acids, and polishes they used. They received work from private customers ad small printing firms.
London's watchmakers produced expensive watches for sale in the West End and around the world. Most were based in Clerkenwell. Their intricate work required strong light, so they often pace their workbenches on an 'outwork' system. Watch parts moved between the homes and workshops of many workers before being assembled by 'finishers'. Specialists skills included hinge making, dial painting, and case making.
Introduced for the millions of visitors to the Great Exhibition in 1851, public toilets were available in most towns and railway stations by the 1890s. You had to 'spend a penny' to use one. The public lavatories at High Holborn included this urinal, marble panels, and a glass cistern.
The cries of bakers and dairymen were a familiar sound on London's streets. They pushed handcarts, selling bread and milk and delivering their wares to private homes.
Grocers like Fred Bugg in Bayswater sold the essentials of daily life. Tea, flour, sugar, and rice were drawn from large containers, then weighed and wrapped for customers. Grocers also sold firewood and parafiin, and for the first time, canned and processed foods like condensed milk and tinned fish. They often lived above their shops. Grocers worked weekdays and late into the evening on Saturdays, when workers came to the shop after being paid their wages.
For those too poor to pay for a doctor, the pharmacist prepared pills and powders, or sold pre-packaged 'patent' remedies. The herbs and chemicals he mixed together were stored in tiny drawers behind the counter. Poisonous liquids were kept in dark green or blue glass bottles with fluted side to distinguish them from harmless fluids.
Respectable women in Victorian London always covered their heads outdoors. At the milliner's they bought hats, bonnets, and caps, as well as artificial flowers, feathers, ribbons, and lace to decorate or trim them. Following Paris, fashions changed frequently. Milliners would clean and redesign hats to suit the latest taste.
Tailors catered to white collar office workers. Clients first selected a length of material. The tailor measured them, prepared a paper pattern and cut the cloth. He gave the pieces to an outworker or assistant to stitch together on a sewing machine. Poor Londoners had nothing tailor made, but bought used clothes from shops and markets.
Many stationers manufactured popular fancy stationery like handmade Christmas, Valentine, and greeting cards. Their shops were like newsagents today. They sold newspapers, magazines, cigarettes, and stationery. Daily papers were widely read in London, especially the Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail.
Pawnbrokers, referred to as 'uncle', were the poor person's bank. Clothing and jewelry were handed over in exchange for a loan. If the loan was not repaid in a year, the pawnbroker could sell the goods. By 1900, there were over 700 pawnbrokers in London. Forfeited articles for sale in the window in the picture include Sunday best clothes, wedding gifts, and ornaments.
Bank Clerks' Office
London's financial services employed thousands of clerks. Their duties included bookkeeping, correspondence, and cashier work behind grilles or screens. Banking jobs offered security, promotion, and generally higher wages. In the 1890s, the Bank of England for the first time hired women who had passed an exam to count and register banknotes. These offices were created from the central banking hall and offices of Barings Bank in Bishopsgate.
Bank Manager's Office