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prodigious extent of buildings in the suburbs of London has rendered a corresponding increase of the means of conveyance from one district to another indispensable. A few years since, Chelsea, Brompton, Kensington, and Bays-water, forming the beautiful western suburbs of the metropolis, were comparatively unknown to most of the inhabitants of Eastern London. Many of the parishioners of Shadwell, Limehouse, and Poplar might have heard of the Regent’s-park and Primrose-hill; but had never visited either, for want of some direct communication brought, as it were, to their very doors. Such a facility has just been provided by the opening of the line already known as “the Camden-town Railway,” which traverses the eastern and northern suburbs of the metropolis, and enables the Londoner to make the “Overland Journey” from Fenchurch-street, City, to Primrose-hill and the Regent’s-park (the latter attractive at all seasons by its “Zoological Gardens”), at a very trifling expenditure of time and money. Our Artist has made the trip, pencil and sketch-book in hand, and here are the graphic results: —
The building shown within the above initial letter is the entrance to the terminus in Fenchurch-street, where we took a sixpenny return ticket (second-class carriage), the distance from the spot where we stood, to the terminus in the Hampstead-road, being four miles and a half — the entire journey and return being, accordingly, nine miles for sixpence!
The trains start every quarter of an hour from half-past eight in the morning till ten at night. There was no puffing or snorting of the engine, but by a silent signal the train was set in motion. We proceeded for a considerable distance under a covered way, lit by sash windows: this was considered necessary at the original construction of the Black-wall Railway, to prevent accidents by horses taking fright from the noise and smoke of the engines as they dart over the bridges crossing the streets of London. We hare engraved the bridge crossing the Minories, as a specimen of these inclosed viaducts.
Through the windows we had a glimpse of the Tower of London; but soon emerged from the covered way, amid roofs of houses, an ocean of pantiles, and groves of chimneys. We passed the sugar-baking district of Goodman's-fields, the London Docks, Wapping, St. George’s-in-the-East — neighbourhood densely crowded with a busy, dingy, working the Camden-town Railroad. The former continues its course nearly parallel to the Commercial-road, crossing by a stone bridge the north side of the Regent's Canal Dock, the terminus of the Regent's Canal.
Bow Springs Bridge, Stepney Station .
Having crossed the Commercial-road by Bow Spring Bridge, we soon leave the City and Pool of London behind us, and pass through fields to Bow common, where to the right we have an extensive but distant view of the East India Docks; and, beyond them, a view of the Surrey and Kentish hills; on the left, the City of London, and Tower Hamlets Cemetery, occupying nearly thirty acres of ground, beautifully disposed, and ornamented with cypress, cedar, and other trees, and most of the graves ornamented with flowers and shrubs. This cemetery, with an adjacent field, containing nearly one hundred and forty acres of land, is about to be purchased by the Commissioners appointed by Act of Parliament to regulate the burial-grounds of the metropolis. Beyond the cemetery is seen the extensive buildings of the City of London Union Workhouse which from its extent and architecture has a palatial appearance.
We next descended into a deep cutting, and, passing under the Bow* road, arrived at the Bow Station. Here the train received passengers and soon after starting we found ourselves in an open country: on the right the newly-formed Victoria-park; on the left we had an extensive view over the Hackney marshes, terminating with a considerable portion of the well-wooded scenery of Essex.
Passing onward, through the verdant fields, we came to the retired village of Homerton, formerly a district of the parish of Hackney, but within the last six years formed into a separate parish; from the railroad is seen a new church, erected about four years ago, from the design of Mr. Ashpitel.
Homerton Parsonage and Church .
The church will accommodate 1800 persons, and cost less than €5000, the whole raised by subscriptions. The parsonage-house is a pleasing specimen of domestic architecture. We have now arrived at the Hackney Station: on the right, from the midst of roofs of houses and the thickly-planted trees m the church-yard and adjacent gardens, rises the picturesque tower of the old church; and to the right, the pyramidal tower of the new church. Looking leftward, we were somewhat puzzled at the appearance of several long ditches, or rather trenches, filled with running water, nearly cevered with what we took to be weeds; but, upon inquiry, we found this was one of the artificial streams for the continual growth of watercresses for the London market. Annexed is a re presentation ef this singular species of cultivation, which affords a living to a great number of poor men, women, and children. The square building on the right side it the Hackney Railway Station where the train halted for a few seconds and then moved on towards Kingland, which is in a deep cutting, pausing under the Kingsland-road.
Hackney Station and Watercress Plantation .
In this district, large tracts of land belonging to the Lord of the Manor, W. G. D. Tyssen, Esq., are now being laid out for building de-tached villas of a better class: the railway has, no doubt, greatly accelerated the profitable occupation of this very fine estate; for, although it has the advantage, from the nature of its soil, according to the Register-General. Return, of being decidedly the most healthy locality near London; yet, until the railway brought it into notice, and opened a communication for it, no measures taken for its improvement appear to have been successful.
After taking up passengers at the Kingsland Station, we proceeded through a cutting towards Islington; and, passing under the Great North-road, we arrived at the Islington and Highbury Station, at the point where the road branches to Holloway and Highbury. In constructing the railway across the road at this place, it was necessary to take down a tavern, which the company have replaced by one of larger structure on the site of the old building, by erecting the same upon girders over the railway.
Viaduct across the Great Northern Railway .
Through the high level of Islington the railway is in a cutting averaging 16 feet deep, with walls of massive brickwork to sustain the clay soil of which the district consists. We quit this cutting near the Caledonian road, and cross the same by a bridge. Within the left year the site of the Roman encampment, and for a great dietance around, has been entirely covered with terraces, streets, and squares. The Model prison at Pentonville, which, when was erected a few years back, stood in the midst of the fields, is now nearly surrounded by houses. We next passed over the Great Northern Railway; and It was a curious sight to see a monster northern train, sixty feet below us, entering the tunnel running under the extensive tract of land known ae Copenhagen-fields. This is, indeed, one of the most singular views through which the railroad [sic] passes. It will be best comprehended by referring to the annexed engraving [see above], taken from the bridge over the Direct York Railway, at the upper end of the ancient northern road to London called Maiden-lane. From this bridge, looking down the gorge of a deep valley, we observe the lines of the direct York Railway gently barring to the entrance of the tunnel, which is a massive stone arch, with thick brick walls on either side, terminated by immense octangular piers formed of brick, with stone dressings. In the center of the Great Northern Railway, a short distance from the tunnel, are two immense piers, upwards of sixty feet in height, which support the viaduct of the Camden-town Railway.
Beyond this viaduct lie Copenhagen-fields, the proposed site of the new Smithfield Market. In the centre is the tavern called Copenhagen House, where Kossuth addressed the operatives on Monday week. The large building with the lofty tower is the new prison now the course of erection at the expense of the Corporation of the city of London.
After passing several beautiful villas, we arrived at Camden-town, where the Railway is constructed upon a brick viaduct of good proportions. The main roads are crossed by wrought iron boiler plate bridge of the same principle of that of the celebrated tubular bridge over the Menai Straits. Some of these bridges an of considerable span, and the details of their construction are well worthy the close examination of those who can appreciate works of this kind.
We soon enter upon ground intersected with the rails of the Great North-Western Railway, until we reach the end of our journey at the terminus of the Camden-town Railway, in the Hampstead-road.
We started by the next train upon our return. Our fellow-passengers were journeying from the extreme north-western suburb to Margate. They accompanied us as far as the Stepney Station, where we parted — they to proceed to Blackwall, to embark in a steamer for Margate; we to return to the great city, much pleased with our economical journey, and the excellence of the accommodation aforded by the Camden-town Railway Company. We an happy to hear that their spirit and liberality are appreciated by the public, since upwards of 104,000 passengers were conveyed upon this line during the previous week.
The Illustrated London News (15 November 1851): 604. Hathi Trust version of a copy in the University of Michigan Library. Web. 30 November 2015.
Last modified 1 December 2015