London Labour and the London Poor, volume 3

Mayhew, Henry


THE subject of omnibus conveyance is to the importance of which the aspect of every thoroughfare in London bears witness. Yet the dweller in the Strand, or even in a greater thoroughfare, , can only form a partial notion of the magnitude of this mode of transit, for he has but a partial view of it; he sees, as it were, only of its details.

The routes of the several omnibuses are manifold. Widely apart as are their startingpoints, it will be seen how their courses tend to common centres, and how generally what may be called the great trunk-lines of the streets are resorted to.

The principal routes lie north and south,


east and west, through the central parts of London, to and from the extreme suburbs. The majority of them commence running at in the morning, and continue till at night, succeeding each other during the busy part of the day every minutes. Most of them have charges— for part of the distance, and for the whole distance.

The omnibuses proceeding on the northern and southern routes are principally the following:—

The Atlases run from the Eyre Arms, St. John"s Wood, by way of , Oxfordstreet, , Charing-cross, Westminster-bridge and road, and past the Elephant and Castle, by the Walworth-road, to Camberwell-gate. Some turn off from the Elephant (as all the omnibus people call it) and go down the New Kent-road to the Dover railwaystation; while others run the same route, but to and from the Nightingale, Lisson-grove, instead of the Eyre Arms. The Waterloos journey from the York and , Regent"spark, by way of , Portland-road, , and so over Waterloo-bridge, by the Waterloo, London, and Walworth-roads, to Camberwell-gate. The Waterloo Association have also a branch to Holloway, the Camden Villas. There are likewise others which run from the terminus of the South- Western Railway in the Waterloo-road, , to the railway termini on the Surrey side of London-bridge, and thence to that of the Eastern Counties in .

The Hungerford-markets pursue the route from Camden Town along Tottenham Courtroad, &c. to Hungerford; and many run from this spot to Paddington.

The Kentish Town run from the Eastern Counties station, and from Whitechapel to Kentish Town, by way of Tottenham Courtroad, &c.

The Hampsteads observe the like course to Camden Town, and then run straight on to Hampstead.

The King"s-crosses run from Kenningtongate by the Blackfriar"s-road and bridge, Fleetstreet, , Gray"s-inn-lane, and the New-road, to , while some go on to Camden Town.

The Great Northerns, the latest route started, travel from the railway terminus, , King"s-cross, to the Bank and the railway-stations, both in the city and across the Thames; also to Paddington, and some to .

The Favourites" route is from , along the Strand, , Gray"s-inn-lane, and Coldbath-fields. to the Angel, , and thence to Holloway; while some of them run down , and so past the General Post-office, and thence by the City-road to the Angel and to Holloway. The Favourites also run from Holloway to the Bank.

The . and line is from Barnsbury-park, by the Post-office and Blackfriars-bridge, to Kennington-gate.

The Camberwells go from Gracechurchstreet, over London-bridge, to Camberwell, while a very few start from the west end of the town, and some or from Fleetstreet; the former crossing and the latter Blackfriars-bridge, while some Nelsons run from to Camberwell or to Brixton.

The Brixtons and Claphams go, some from the Regent-circus, , by way of , over Westminster-bridge; and some from , over Londonbridge, to Brixton or Clapham, as the case may be.

The Paragons observe the same route, and some of these conveyances go over Blackfriar"sbridge to Brixton.

The Carshaltons follow the track of the Mitchams, Tootings, and Claphams, and go over London-bridge to the Bank.

The Paddingtons go from the Royal Oak, Westbourne-Green, and from the Pineapple- gate by way of and to the Bank, the London-bridge, Eastern Counties, or railway termini; while some reach the same destination by the route of the New-road, City-road, and Finsbury. These routes are also pursued by the vehicles lettered "New-road Conveyance Association," and "London Conveyance Company;" while some of the vehicles belonging to the same proprietors run to Notting-hill, and some have branches to St. John"s Wood and elsewhere.

The Wellingtons and Marlboroughs pursue the same track as the Paddingtons, but some of them diverge to St. John"s Wood.

The Kensall-greens go from the Regentcircus, , to the Cemetery.

The course of the Bayswaters is from Bayswater , , and the Strand, to the Bank.

The Bayswaters and Kensingtons run from the Bank Finsbury, and then by the Cityroad and New-road, down Portland-road, and by and to Bayswater and Kensington.

The Hammersmith and Kensingtons convey their passengers from Hammersmith, by way of Kensington, , , &c. to the Bank.

The Richmond and Hampton Courts, from St. Paul"s-churchyard to the places indicated.

The Putneys and Bromptons run from Putney-bridge Brompton, &c. to the Bank and the London-bridge railway station.

The Chelseas proceed from the Man in the Moon to the Bank, Mile-end-road, and City railway stations.

The and Islingtons observe the route from to the Angel, , travelling along , , Portland-road, and the New-road.

The Royal Blues go from


Grosvenor-gate, , the Strand, &c. to the railway station.

The direction of the Pimlicos is through , , Strand, &c. to Whitechapel.

The Marquess of Westminsters follow the route from the Vauxhall-bridge , , the Strand, &c. to the Bank.

The Deptfords go from , and over London-bridge, and some from Charing-cross, over Westminster-bridge, to Deptford.

The route of the Nelsons is from Charingcross, over Westminster-bridge, and by the New and Old Kent-roads to Deptford, Greenwich, and Woolwich; some go from , over London-bridge.

The Shoreditches pursue the direction of , , the Strand, &c. to , their starting-place being Batterseabridge.

The Hackneys and Claptons run from to Clapton-square.

Barber"s run from the Bank, and some from , to Clapton.

The Blackwalls run some from to the Docks, and the Bow and Stratfords from different parts of the West-end to their respective destinations.

I have enumerated these several conveyances from the information of persons connected with the trade, using the terms they used, which better distinguish the respective routes than the names lettered on the carriages, which would but puzzle the reader, the principal appellation giving no intimation of the destination of the omnibus.

The routes above specified are pursued by a series of vehicles belonging to company or to firm, or individual, the number of their vehicles varying from to . omnibus, however, continues to run from the Bank to Finchley, and from the Angel to .

The total number of omnibuses traversing the streets of London is about , paying duty including mileage, averaging per month each, or per annum. The number of conductors and drivers is about (including a "odd men,"—a term that will be explained hereafter), paying annually each for their licenses, or collectively. The receipts of each vehicle vary from to per day. Estimating the whole at , it follows that the entire sum expended annually in omnibus hire by the people of London amounts to no less than , which is more than a-head for every man, woman, and child, in the metropolis. The average journey as regards length of each omnibus is miles, and that distance is in some cases travelled times a-day by each omnibus, or, as it is called, " there and back." Some perform the journey only times a-day (each omnibus), and some, but a minority, a less number of times. Now taking the average as between and miles a-day, travelled by each omnibus, and that I am assured on the best authority is within the mark, while miles a-day might exceed it, and computing the omnibuses running daily at , we find "a travel," as it was worded to me, upwards of miles a-day, or a yearly travel of more than of miles: an extent that almost defies a parallel among any distances popularly familiar. And that this estimate in no way exceeds the truth is proved by the sum annually paid to the Excise for "mileage," which, as before stated, amounts on an average to each "bus," per month, or, collectively, to per annum, and this at per mile (the rate of duty charged) gives miles as the distance travelled by the entire number of omnibuses every year.

On each of its journeys experienced persons have assured me an omnibus carries on the average persons. Nearly all are licensed to carry ( inside and out), and that number perhaps is sometimes exceeded, while is a fair computation; for as every omnibus has now the fares, and , or, as the busmen call them, "long uns and short uns," there are sets of passengers, and the number of through the whole distance on each journey of the omnibus is, as I have said, a fair computation: for sometimes the vehicle is almost empty, as a set-off to its being crammed at other times. This computation shows the daily "travel," reckoning journeys a-day, of passengers. Thus we might be led to believe that about - the entire population of the metropolis and its suburbs, men, women, and children, the inmates of hospitals, gaols, and workhouses, paupers, peers, and their families all included, were daily travelling in omnibuses. But it must be borne in mind, that as most omnibus travellers use that convenient mode of conveyance at least twice a-day, we may compute the number of individuals at , or, allowing journeys as an average daily travel, at . Calculating the payment of each passenger at , and so allowing for the set-off of the "short uns" to the "long uns," we have a daily receipt for omnibus fares of , a weekly receipt of , and a yearly receipt of ; which it will be seen is several thousands less than the former estimate: so that it may be safely assured, that at least millions of money is annually expended on omnibus fares in London.

The extent of individual travel performed by some of the omnibus drivers is enormous. man told me that he had driven his "bus" miles ( stages of miles) every day for years, with the exception of miles less every Sunday, so that this man had driven in years miles.

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 Title Page
Chapter I: The Destroyers of Vermin
Our Street Folk - Street Exhibitors
Chapter III: - Street Musicians
Chapter IV: - Street Vocalists
Chapter V: - Street Artists
Chapter VI: - Exhibitors of Trained Animals
Chapter VII: Skilled and Unskilled Labour - Garret-Masters
Chapter VIII: - The Coal-Heavers
Chapter IX: - Ballast-Men
Chapter X: - Lumpers
Chapter XI: Account of the Casual Labourers
 Chapter XII: Cheap Lodging-Houses
Chapter XIII: On the Transit of Great Britain and the Metropolis
Chapter XIV: London Watermen, Lightermen, and Steamboat-Men
Chapter XV: London Omnibus Drivers and Conductors
Chapter XVI: Character of Cabdrivers
Chapter XVII: Carmen and Porters
Chapter XVIII: London Vagrants
 Chapter XIX: Meeting of Ticket-of-Leave Men