Victorian London Photographs

Mansion House, circa 1890

Photo by London Stereoscopic Company/Hulton Archive/Getty Images 

Do you enjoy seeing old photos of London? We certainly, do! 

We've chosen lots of views of central London for this gallery. Views that many of us know well today to make it easier to compare.

This first photo is of the Bank area in The City of London, circa 1890. Mansion House, the official residence of the Lord Mayor of London, is on the left and the street ahead is Poultry and then further up it is named Cheapside. 

A real architectural loss from this time is the Mappin & Webb building which is in the center of the photograph, on the corner of Queen Victoria Street and Poultry. This neo-gothic building was designed by John Belcher and there was a campaign to save it which, sadly, was ignored. We now have the striped postmodern No.1 Poultry which you either love or hate. Go into the light well on the ground floor at Bucklersbury Passage (open 24 hours) and you can see the old clock that used to be on the front of the building. 

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Charing Cross

Charing Cross, circa 1890
Photo by London Stereoscopic Company/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

This view is looking at the ornate building opposite Charing Cross Train Station, just one minute from Trafalgar Square, circa 1890. 449 Strand is a Grade II* listed commercial building on the corner of the Strand and Adelaide Street. 449 Strand was designed by John Nash in 1830 and built in 1830-32. It has diagonally- placed pepperpot towers.

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The Strand

The Strand, circa 1891
Photo by London Stereoscopic Company/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

This view is at the other end of the Strand, outside Somerset House (where there is an ice rink in the winter), circa 1891. The church featured is St Mary le Strand. This is a busy route connecting Westminster and The City of London.

The buildings on the left of St Mary-le-Strand all went when Aldwych and Kingsway were 'punched through' the neighborhood. If you compare this map from 1897, with what's there now, you can see the scale of the redevelopment.

Near to here is London's Roman Baths and Aldwych Station.

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St Paul's Cathedral

St Paul's Cathedral, circa 1870
Photo by London Stereoscopic Company/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

It's a bit hard to know exactly where this photo of St Paul's Cathedral was taken from but it is clear to see the difference in color of the exterior of the dome. Over many years, London's landmarks got progressively dirtier and there has been a lot of done to clean off the grime. St Paul's Cathedral was restored over 15 years and the work was completed in 2011. So much of London was improved for our 2012 celebrations - both the London 2012 Olympic Games and Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

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Westminster Bridge

Houses of Parliament, circa 1890
Photo by London Stereoscopic Company/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Looking from the southwest side of Westminster Bridge, the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben are instantly recognizable. The river traffic looks different and I've never seen a horse and cart carrying deliveries across this bridge.

On the opposite side to the Houses of Parliament, we now have Portcullis House which was commissioned in 1992 and opened in 2001 for Members of Parliament to have more office space.

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Tower Bridge Construction

The construction of Tower Bridge
© London Stereoscopic Company / Getty Images

Building work started on Tower Bridge in 1884 and it took over 8 years to complete. Two massive piers had to be sunk into the riverbed to support the construction and over 11,000 tons of Scottish steel provided the framework for the Towers and Walkways, with 2 million rivets holding it all together. This was then clad in Cornish granite and Portland stone; both to protect the underlying steelwork and to give the Bridge a more pleasing appearance. The Prince of Wales opened Tower Bridge on 30 June 1894.

The high walkways were originally completely open, i.e. no roof or windows. By 1910 they were closed as people preferred to wait at street level when the bridge was raised rather than heading up the stairs with heavy loads. There is now the popular Tower Bridge Exhibition on the high walkways which has a glass floor section for views below.

We think this photo has been taken from the St. Katherine's Docks area to the east of the Tower of London.

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Tower of London

Tower of London, circa 1890
Photo by Imagno/Getty Images

It looks like this view of The Tower of London is from near All Hallows By The Tower Church, along with Tower Hill - the main road to the north of these historic buildings. Could the carriages in the foreground of the image be taxis for hire or private transport?

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Thames Warehouses

St Paul's Cathedral, circa 1870
Photo by London Stereoscopic Company/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

This is a marvelous view of St Paul's Cathedral that shows the wharves and warehouses between the Millennium Bridge and Southwark Bridge area on the north side of the Thames. As this is circa 1870 it is before Tower Bridge was built to the east (as that was opened in 1894).

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Oxford Circus

Oxford Circus, Victorian London
© London Stereoscopic Company / Getty Images

This is Oxford Circus looking from the 'H&M corner' across to the other side of Oxford Street, towards Tottenham Court Road, circa 1888. Just as today, the traffic is busy but it's interesting to see the man pulling his barrel organ in the foreground.

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Oxford Street

Victorian Oxford Street
© London Stereoscopic Company / Getty IMages

This photo is from 1899 and looks along the busy shopping area of Oxford Street. This section includes the Princess's Theatre, which closed in 1902 and was demolished in 1931. This was the site of the flagship HMV store until 2014. 

This part of the street is between Oxford Circus and Tottenham Court Road, looking east, near the M&S Pantheon Store and the junction with Poland Street.

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Fleet Street

Fleet Street circa 1888
Photo by London Stereoscopic Company/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

This view of Fleet Street is from circa 1888. St Paul's Cathedral is in the center. Wonderful hats on the gentlemen on the top deck on the bus!

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