York Minster from Museum Street, c.1860

‘York Minster’

William Sedgfield

c.1860

Stereoview York Sedgfield

This stereograph shows a scene that has changed considerably since it was taken c.1860.  Close to where the tree is on the left now stands St. Wilfrid’s Catholic Church, completed in 1864, and all of the houses shown beyond the junction on the right have since disappeared for road-widening. York, with its minster, city walls, gatehouses and many medieval houses, still remains England’s best-preserved medieval city by some distance.

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Chaos in King William Street, London, c.1860

King William Street, London

c.1860

king william st london

King William Street, London

c.1860

king william st 2

The two stereographs show that London has always been a crowded city! It’s interesting to remember that this is the London that was familiar to Dickens, a claustrophobic mass of horses, carriages, carts and people. When it comes to expressing the atmosphere of 19th century London these are two of the best stereographs I’ve seen.

‘Ocean Liners at Albert Docks on the Thames’, c.1910

‘Ocean liners at the Albert docks on the Thames, below the world’s greatest city, London’

Underwood & Underwood

c.1910

albert docks london

London’s Royal Albert Dock was opened in 1880 at the height of Britain’s power as a global empire. It had three miles of quay, but the dock’s usefulness waned with the Empire and the decline in transatlantic liners. It eventually closed in 1980. The dock itself is still used for watersport activities and part of the quay is soon to be redeveloped as the ‘Asian Business Port’.

‘The Bank of England from Mansion House’, 1891

‘The Bank of England from Mansion House’

1891

B. W. Kilburn

bank of england

The Bank of England, shown to the left, was the work Sir John Soane and constructed on an immense scale over a period of fifty years starting in 1790. Unfortunately it was almost completely demolished in the 1920s. The Neo-Classical building to the right is the Royal Exchange. Thomas Gresham’s mid 16th century building on the same site was destroyed during the Great Fire in 1666. Its replacement was also destroyed by fire in 1838. The third, and current, building on the site was constructed to the design of William Tite in 1844. It’s now used as a shopping centre. The statue just visible in front of the Royal Exchange is of the Duke of Wellington. It was cast in 1844 from cannon that had been seized during various conflicts.

Tintern Abbey, England, c.1865

‘Tintern Abbey – looking S.W. from the N.E – corner of Chancel’

c.1865

tintern abbey

Founded in the 1130s, Tintern Abbey lies in the beautiful Wye Valley, Monmouthshire. The Cistercian abbey buildings were dissolved by Henry VIII in 1536. The monks were evicted, the lead was stripped from the roof and the building became a ruin. Wordsworth visited in 1793 and later wrote one of his most famous poems inspired by the bare ruined choirs where late the sweet birds sang.