London, Volume 3

Knight, Charles


LII.-Modern Bermondsey.

LII.-Modern Bermondsey.




It is a bold act to take up arms against old proverbs-those condensed epitomes of worldly wisdom, which charm by their brevity quite as much as by their truth: yet to the dictum that


of a trade can never agree

we feel impelled to reply by pointing to . The inhabitants of that land of leather, that region of skins and pelts, afford a significant contradiction to the proverb: there are many




here congregated, and we have reason for knowing that they


very well. Why it is that the bazaar-system of the East is thus acted on in many parts of London-why it is that we find the watchmakers in locality, the silk-weavers in another, the sugar-refiners in a -need not here be discussed; but there appears reason for believing, as we shall endeavour to explain farther on, that the selection of as a

local habitation

for the leather-manufacturers is greatly dependent on a series of which intersect the district, and which afford that abundant supply of water so indispensably necessary in the manufacture. Be the cause what it may, however, the fact is certain, that almost the whole circle of operations connected with this manufacture, so far as the metropolis is concerned, are met with in :


indeed it is scarcely too much to say that the history of a sheep's-skin and of an ox-hide forms the staple material for a description of this spot.

There are, however, other features which render modern a remarkable spot. It has been said that

there is a greater variety of trades and manufactures carried on in this parish than in any


parish besides throughout the kingdom ;

and although we doubt whether the means exist for making this determination, or, if existing, whether they have been properly estimated, yet the great diversity of operations is observable at a glance. Like as the Eastern Counties Railway forms a point of sight from which the dwellings of the Spitalfields weavers may be conveniently seen,[n.18.1]  so will a trip on the Greenwich Railway reveal to us many of the characteristic features of , which it intersects from north-west to south-east. No sooner do We mount of the railway carriages (and let all who would look about them select an carriage) than we find ourselves in close vicinage to manufactories and tanneries. Chimneys innumerable shoot up at intervals of a few yards, towering above a very maze of red roofs, and furnishing their contribution to the smoky atmosphere of the neighbourhood. It is chiefly on the south-western side of the railway, and within a mile of , that these factory-chimneys are met with. A closer glance will detect other general features in the district; we shall see vacant spaces or yards, surrounding or connected with many of the buildings, and exhibiting evidences of the tanners', the fell-mongers', the leather-dressers', or the parchment-makers' operations. We shall see that many of the buildings are so constructed as to allow free access of air to all parts of the interior: these are tanners' drying-lofts. We shall see long, low, tile-covered buildings, principally north-eastward of the railway: these are rope-walks. We shall see large areas of ground in which low sheds or open boxes are ranged by dozens in parallel rows: these are glue-factories. We shall see many lofty warehouses, with cranes and doors at various parts of their height : these are wool-warehouses. But the railway traveller soon observes a remarkable change in the appearance of the district which he is traversing; he finds himself suddenly transferred to a neighbourhood of nursery-grounds and market-gardens-speckled here and there, it is true, with tanneries and other factories-but exhibiting the general features of open country; and this is the character of the district from thence to Deptford and Greenwich.

It would not perhaps be far from the truth to say that may be regarded as a region of manufacturers, a region of market-gardeners, a region of wholesale dealers, and a maritime region, according to the quarter where we take our stand. Were we indeed to confine ourselves strictly to the parochial limits, the features would include little of the latter; but we are not so strictly limited, and shall perhaps include a little of , and of or other parishes, in our remarks on generally.

To the dwellers north of the Thames it is perhaps generally known that lies south-east of , while the burghers of can define the spot more closely. The parochial boundary embraces a portion of the banks of the Thames eastward of ; extends from thence in an irregular


line towards the Dover Road, separating from and Deptford parishes; skirts along the rear of the houses in the and the ; enters by. ; and proceeds thence to (once called Savory) Dock. Let us, however, take a ramble over the bridge, and commence our observations at its south-eastern corner, proceeding thence in the direction of .

Perhaps no part of the metropolis has suffered greater changes of appearance in modern times than that at which we begin the survey of . The southern approaches to the required such a large increase to be made in the elevation of the roadways, that the west end of would have been sunk in a valley, had not a reconstruction of that part been made. The only mode of carrying the roadway continuously from the towards was by an inclined plane; and on the northern side of this plane the houses have been rebuilt in an elegant and substantial manner, forming a striking contrast, both in appearance and in elevation, to the houses which previously occupied that portion of . A still greater change has occurred on the southern side: for here we meet with the terminus to the Greenwich Railway, which is also the terminus to the Croydon and the Brighton Railways. At present, the chief feature which this terminus presents is that of a large, scantily occupied, and somewhat inelegant area of ground, rendered busy and bustling by those peculiar scenes which distinguish the terminus of a Railway; but it is not improbable that this spot may be more diversified by buildings in a few years.

After passing or large wharfs, and the high building on which the London station of Watson's telegraphic line is erected, we enter fairly upon the old and unaltered portion of , whose name is a strange corruption of the former appellation, Street, and whose shops exhibit a singular mixture of the features which are found separate in other parts of the district :--wharfingers, merchants, salesmen, factors, and agents; store-shippers, biscuit-bakers, outfitters, ship-chandlers, slop-sellers, block-makers, and ropemakers; engineers and other manufacturers; together with the usual varieties of retail tradesmen-all point to the diversified, and no less busy than diversified, traffic of this street.


it has been said truly,

the crane and the pulley seem never to be idle.

If we turn out of this leading thoroughfare into any of the narrow streets which bend towards the river, we find still greater indications of the warehousing and wharfing system; and singular indeed are the contrasts which some of these streets have exhibited at different times. , for example, which leads down to Battlebridge Stairs, occupies the site of the London manor-house, or


of the abbots of Battle--the


(now an assemblage of small streets on the opposite side of ) having once been the garden attached to the manor-house. From Morgan's Lane to there is a line of street-called in part Pickle-herring Street, and in another Shad Thames--which exhibits an uninterrupted series of wharfs, warehouses, mills, and factories, on both sides of a narrow and crowded roadway. The buildings on the northern side are contiguous to the river; and through gateways and openings in these we witness the busy scenes and the mazes of shipping which


pertain to such a spot. We see the handiwork of Commerce, who, to use the words of Thomson,--

the big warehouse built,

Rais'd the strong crane, chok'd up the loaded street

With foreign plenty; and thy stream, O Thames,

Large, gentle, deep, majestic, King of Floods!

Chose for his grac'd resort!

In advancing towards , a short inlet between the river and , we leave on the right a few streets which collectively form what is termed Horsleydown-once


a grazing-ground for horses; and after passing several large granaries we arrive at the southern end of . Here commences the parish of ; and a little farther progress brings us to a district as remarkable for its appearance as for its importance, in past times at least, to the manufactures of . All Londoners have heard of the


or, more irreverently, the

Holy Land

of ; but far less is known of

Jacob's Island

in , though it has been rendered familiar to many by the most successful of living novelists. The street beyond is ; and as we pass down it a glance will detect, on the right hand, several openings leading to small, crazy, and very primitive wooden bridges. If we cross of these bridges, and examine the spot to which it leads, we find that a stream, about feet wide, entirely encircles a cluster of mean and dilapidated houses, to which access is gained by about a dozen wooden bridges from the

terra firma

on the other side of the stream. This stream is bounded on the sides by , Wall, Nutkin's Court, and ; and from the east end of the latter

Jacob's Island

can be seen in all its ragged glory. The ditch becomes filled with water at every high tide. In of Mr. Dickens's most popular works,[n.20.1]  the features which this spot presents are described so vividly, and with such close accuracy, that we cannot do better than quote the passage. He speaks of the ditch itself and the houses exterior to the island.

A stranger, standing on


of the wooden bridges thrown across this ditch in

Mill Street

, will see the inhabitants of the houses on either side lowering, from their back doors and windows, buckets, pails and domestic utensils in which to haul the water up; and when his eye is turned from these operations to the houses themselves, his utmost astonishment will be excited by the scene before him. Crazy wooden galleries, common to the backs of half a dozen houses, with holes from whence to look on the slime beneath; windows, broken and patched, with poles thrust out on which to dry the linen that is never there; rooms so small, so filthy, so confined, that the air would seem too tainted even for the dirt and squalor which they shelter; wooden chambers thrusting themselves out above the mud, and threatening to fall into it, as some of them have done; dirt-besmeared walls and decaying foundations-all these ornament the banks of Folly Ditch.

This is the scene in the narrow passages near the Island, of which are known by the humble names of Halfpenny Alley and Farthing Alley. In Jacob's Island itself the

warehouses are roofless and empty, the walls are crumbling down, the windows are now no windows, the

doors are falling into the street, the chimneys are blackened, but they yield no smoke; and, through losses and Chancery suits, it is made quite a desolate island indeed.

Rough and wild as the spot appears when the ditch is filled at high tide, yet, if we visit it hours afterwards, when mud usurps the place of water, more than organ of sense is strongly and unpleasantly appealed to. Wilkinson gave a view of this spot in the

Londina Illustrata

more than years ago; and the interval of time does not seem to have produced much change in the appearance of the scene. In the plate here alluded to, the artist (and spectator likewise) is supposed to be standing on Jacob's Island, and looking across the Folly Ditch to the crazy, ancient houses of .

The history of this ditch or tide stream is connected, in a remarkable way, with the manufacturing features of . When the Abbey was at the height of its glory, and formed a nucleus to which all else in the neighbourhood was subordinate, the supply of water for its inmates was obtained from the Thames through the medium of this tide. was probably at time very little better than a morass, the whole being low and level: indeed, at the present time, manufacturers in that locality find the utmost difficulty in obtaining a firm foundation for their buildings, such is the spongy nature of the ground. In the early period just alluded to, the spot, besides being low, was almost entirely unencumbered with buildings; and thus a channel from the Thames, although not many feet in depth, was filled throughout the entire district at every high tide. There was a mill at the river-side, at which the corn for the granary of the Abbey was ground; and this mill was turned by the flux and reflux of the water along the channel. When the Abbey was destroyed, and the ground passed into the possession of others, the houses which were built on the site still received a supply of water from this water-course. In process of time tanneries were established on the spot, most probably on account of the valuable supply of fresh water obtainable every hours from the river. This seems to be an opinion entertained by many of the principal manufacturers of the place. There appears reason to believe that the Neckinger, the name which the ditch formerly held, was by degrees made to supply other ditches, or small watercourses cut in different directions, and placed in communication with it; for, provided they were all nearly on a level, each high tide would as easily fill a dozen as a single . Had there been no mill at the mouth of the channel, the supply might have gone on continuously; but the mill continued to be moved by the stream, and to be held by parties who neither had nor felt any interest in the affairs of the Neckinger manufacturers. Disagreements thence arose; and we find that, about years ago, the tanners in the central parts of instituted a suit against the owner of the mill for shutting off the tide when it suited his own purpose so to do, to the detriment of the leather-manufacturers. The ancient usages of the district were brought forward in evidence; and the result was, that the right of the inhabitants to a supply of water from the river, at every high tide, was confirmed,to the discomfiture of the mill-owner. Since that period there have been occasional disagreements between the manufacturers and the owners of the mill (now a lead-mill), respecting the closing of sluice-gates, the repair and cleansing of the ditch, and the construction of wooden bridges across it; but


the tide has, with few exceptions, flowed to and fro daily from the Thames to the neighbourhood of and Neckinger Roads. We have visited or of the largest establishments in , and find that they are still dependent on the tide-stream for the water-very abundant in quantity-required in the manufacture of leather. Other manufacturers have, however, now constructed Artesian wells on their premises, while the mill at the mouth of the stream is worked by steam-power, so that the channel itself is much less important than in former times. It is anything but a

New River

in cleanliness and neatness of appearance. At present it is under the management of Commissioners, consisting of the principal manufacturers, who are empowered to levy a small rate for its maintenance and repair.

This stream has somewhat detained us in our circuit walk, but it is so closely connected with the establishment and advancement of the staple manufacture of the district that we have felt it proper not to omit these details. The interest which the older inhabitants of the parish still take in the decision of indicates the importance attached to it.

When we have passed , in our ramble eastward, we see that the region of wharfs and granaries, of warehouses and factories, has in part given place to features of a more maritime character. We are approaching towards . We meet seamen-sauntering, jovial, careless, light-hearted seamen--in the streets. We meet with rope-walks, anchor-smitheries, boat-builders; with outfitters, slopsellers, sea-biscuit bakers; with dealers in all the knick-knacks to which


is so much attached. The, opposite side of the river presents these features in a more marked degree, but the eastern parts of are not without them. The same picture, but painted in stronger colours, presents itself through the greater part of , past the entrance to the Thames Tunnel-past the Surrey Dock--to the Greenland Dock, that

profitable nuisance,

as Pennant once termed it, when the whale-fishery was at its height. But it is not of that we have here to speak: we will, therefore, bend our steps southward.

The belt of houses which skirts the Thames at the junction of and- does not extend far from its banks before we obtain glimpses of the nursery-grounds and market-gardens--the feature in this district. Here, too, we meet with another of those streams which seem at time to have been so plentiful in this locality. Contiguous to a narrow street called , which we believe separates the parishes, is a stream, or ditch, communicating with the Thames, and sending out a number of minor branches, which, turning and winding, and commingling with each other, form a number of little islands in the open fields of . These islands were formerly used as bleaching-grounds; but they now present rather a desolate appearance, and the streams are muddy and ill ordered.

Such a curious intermixture of agricultural and manufacturing labour, of nature and art, of open ground and close factories, we do not know in any other part of London, as in the district intersected by the Greenwich Railway in the mile of its length. We may go to many parts of the metropolis and see groups of black chimneys and large buildings, symbols of the operations conducted within; we may visit many other districts in which the nurseryman or the


market-gardener pursues his labours in an atmosphere (for London) tolerably free from smoke; but here the characteristics present themselves in common. The market-gardens are very extensive; and between them, at various isolated spots, are the factories: here, white-lead works; a little farther on, a rope-walk; then chemical-works, oil-cloth works, paper-mills, glue-manufactories, engine-factories; and farther westward, the thickly-congregated leather-manufactories. In most of these instances each factory is isolated, having gardens within a few yards of it on all sides. A lover of the pastoral and the picturesque might not think the gardens improved, in rural association or in appearance, by the presence of these busy scenes of industry; but it is only instance of that which overgrown London exhibits on every side--the gradual absorption of green fields in the labyrinth of brick and mortar, a process by which Greenwich and Hampstead, Clapham and Hammersmith, bid fair to be eventually as much London as , , and Mile End now are. The market-gardens between , , Deptford, and the still exist, however, and we are indebted to them for no small portion of our daily supply of culinary vegetables. On market mornings, at or o'clock, the market-gardener's waggon is receiving its store, and setting out for , where the greater part of the produce is sold; and on the same day all may buy just as much of this food as they may require, and in any corner of London. This is not the place to dwell on the wonderful yet simple machinery by which a large city is supplied with its daily store of food; but such thoughts naturally occur to the mind when a district of market-gardens is spread out before us.

The Roman Catholic Convent, noticed in our last Chapter,--is situated at the spot where the maritime and the agricultural districts may be said to meet. It is at the corner of a street called Parker's Row, the north end of which belongs to the former, and the south to the latter. Nay, the Convent is associated with another circumstance which still more disturbs those notions of seclusion and romance which we in England are accustomed to entertain in respect to such establishments: the site on which it is erected was previously a tan-yard, supplied with water from the tide-stream, which passes close to the Convent in its progress from the Folly to the neighbourhood of the Neckinger Mills. At a short distance from this Convent is the pleasantly-situated New Church of .

In proceeding southward from the

water-side division

of (as that part is called which is nearest to the Thames), we may select among many tolerably pleasant roads and pathways, passing through, or rather dividing, the nursery-grounds, and leading to the manufacturing establishments which speckle the scene. of the prettiest of these is , passing beneath of the arches of the railway, and having extensive market-gardens stretching out on either side of it. Another is , exhibiting, among more agreeable features of the spot, many shapeless and inelegant masses of building: these consist of rope-walks, paper-mills, an engine-factory, a glue-factory, &c. Manor Lane and Corbett's Lane, and , all present sufficient that is green and pleasant to induce a ramble through them, interspersed with features more interesting to the manufacturer than to the gardener


or to the lover of country scenery. In a road called the , leading eastward to New Church, we meet with the Spa from which the road derived its name. A chalybeate spring was discovered here about years ago; and the place was converted into a sort of tea-garden by an ingenious man, who had exhibited some talent for painting, and who decorated his house of entertainment with subjects from his own pencil. The following description from Hughson, compared with the

Mount Heclas


Mount Vesuviuses

of modern exhibitions, will make us doubt whether there is really anything new

under the sun.

Mr. Keyse, the proprietor, established a sort of at the Spa, and, finding this to succeed, his ingenuity

suggested various improvements, and among others he entertained the public with an excellent representation of the siege of Gibraltar, consisting of transparencies and fireworks, constructed and arranged by Mr. Keyse himself; the height of the rock was


, and the length

two hundred

feet; the whole of the apparatus covering about


acres of ground.

On the east of the nursery-grounds are the docks, ponds, and reservoirs belonging to the Commercial, the Greenland, and the Grand Surry Docks; and also the buildings which constitute the town of Deptford. These collectively separate the nurseries from that bend or


of the Thames which bounds the western side of the .

If we draw a line from New Church to the intersection of the with the , we shall find to the west, or rather the north-west, of that line nearly the whole of the factories connected with the leather and wool trade of London. A circle mile in diameter, having its centre at the spot where the Abbey once stood, will include within its limits most of the tanners, the curriers, the fellmongers, the woolstaplers, the leather-factors, the leather-dressers, the leather-dyers, the parchment-makers, and the gluemakers, for which this district is so remarkable. There is scarcely a street, a road, a lane, into which we can turn without seeing evidences of or other of these occupations. narrow road-leading from the to the Kent Road--is particularly distinguishable for the number of leather-factories which it exhibits on either side; some time-worn and mean, others newly and skilfully erected. Another street, known as , and lying westward of the church, exhibits nearly distinct establishments where skins or hides undergo some of the many processes to which they are subjected. In , in , in , upper and lower, in , and , and , and others whose names we cannot now remember in all of these, leather, skins, and wool seem to be the commodities out of which the wealth of the inhabitants has been created. Even the public-houses give note of these peculiarities, by the signs chosen for them, such as the



Fellmongers' Arms,

Simon the Tanner,

and others of like import. If there is any district in London whose inhabitants might be excused for supporting the proposition that

there is nothing like leather,

surely is that place!

It might at seem that the connexion between leather and wool is not very apparent, the nature, uses, and preparation of the being so very dissimilar; but when we remember that both are taken from those animals whose flesh


supplies us with portion of our daily food, and in part from other animals, we perceive a reason why the cleansing and preparation of them are conveniently effected in spot. The ox yields hide for stout leather; the sheep yields wool and skin for thin leather and parchment; the horse yields hide and valuable hair; and from the following enumeration of some of the manufacturers in alone it will be seen how many branches of trade spring from these sources :--hide-sellers, tanners, leather-dressers, morocco-leather dressers, leather sellers and cutters, curriers, parchment-makers, wool-agents, woolstaplers, horse-hair manufacturers, hair and flock manufacturers, patent hair-felt manufacturers. There are, besides these, skin and hide salesmen, fellmongers, leather-dyers, and glue-makers, in other parts of the vicinity.

The extent to which these branches of manufacture are carried on at has never, as far as we are aware, been ascertained; but it must be enormous. The following remarks of Mr. M Culloch (

Statistical Account of the British Empire

) will illustrate the national importance of the manufacture of leather. After alluding to the large scale in which the manufacture is carried on at , that gentleman states, that, besides the hides and skins of animals slaughtered in this country, vast quantities are imported from abroad, to be tanned or dressed in England.

At an average of the years




, no fewer than


cwt., or



bs., of foreign cow, ox, and buffalo hides were entered for home consumption, exclusive of vast quantities of lamb-skins, goat-skins, &c. The total quantity of all sorts of leather, tawed, tanned, dressed, and curried in Great Britain may at present be estimated at about


; which, at

1s. 6d.

per pound, gives


as the value of the leather alone.

He proceeds to estimate the value of this leather, when manufactured into shoes, harness, gloves, and other saleable articles, at nearly times this amount, or at per annum. This sum he divides into portions, viz., , for the raw material; for profits, rent of workshops, and capital invested; and for wages. The distribution of this large amount of wages he thus conjectures:--

Supposing those employed as shoemakers, saddlers, glovers,


&c., to make,


with another,


a-year, the total number of such persons will be


. This, however, does not give the total number of persons employed in the leather-trade, inasmuch as it excludes the tanners, curriers, &c., employed in dressing and preparing the leather. But if, from the value of the prepared leather,


, we deduct


for the value of the hides and skins, and


, for tanners' and curriers' profits, including the expense of bark, lime, pits, etc, we have


left as wages. Now, as the wages of tanners, curriers, leather-dressers, &c., may, we believe, be taken at


a-year at an average, we shall have


as the number employed. in these departments; and, adding these to the persons employed in manufacturing the leather, we have a grand total of


employed in the various departments of the business.

These are high numbers, and point to the vast importance of this department of manufacture. The nature of our publication does not admit details of manufacturing processes, nor descriptions of particular factories; but the topography and general features of are so dependent on the subdivision of


employments arising out of the leather-manufacture, that we deem it right to glance rapidly at them.

In the Chapter relating to


the career of the ox and the sheep is traced down to the point when the drovers consign the animals to the hands of the butcher. Let us take up the thread of the story from that point. The animals are slaughtered, the flesh is retailed for the tables of rich and poor, and the skins and hides pass into other hands. Who is there that has not, at some time or other, had his ears dinned and tormented in the London streets by a cart, rattling and rumbling over the rough stones, and laden with sheep-skins? Neither the sound, nor the sight, nor the odour is a pleasant ; yet is there the germ of much wealth in those carts. They do not belong to the butcher, nor to the tanner, nor to the leather-dresser, nor to the wool-dealer; they are owned by


who act as agents between buyer and seller. As the Smithfield salesman transacts the dealings between the country grazier and the London butcher, receiving a small per centage on the purchase price of the animals; as the corn-factor sells the corn of the country farmer to the miller, the mealman, or the corn-chandler of London, receiving in like manner a small payment for his services; so does the skin-salesman act as agent for the butcher, disposing of the skins to the


and receiving a few pence on the purchase-money of each. There are some fell-mongers in who purchase their sheep-skins directly from the butchers, without the intervention of a salesman; but the general system is as we have stated.

It may next be asked whether these skins, thus taken away in carts from the butchers and slaughterers, are conveyed to factories, to storehouses, or to markets? If the


is the purchaser, the skins are conveyed to his yard; but if, as is more common, the salesman is employed as an intermediate party, the skins are conveyed to the Skin Market in . Until within the last few years, there were places used as skin-markets on the side of the water; near , and the other near the : but the tanners and leather-dressers, deeming it desirable to concentrate the whole routine of operations, made arrangements for building the present Leather and Skin Market. They formed a company, subscribed a joint stock, and purchased a large piece of ground a little to the north of , ; and by about the year the whole was completed, at an expense of nearly . On passing into New from we see the front portion of this building on the right-hand side. It is a long series of brick warehouses, lighted by a range of windows, and having an arched entrance gateway at either end. These entrances open into a quadrangle or court, covered for the most part with grass, and surrounded by warehouses. In the warehouses is transacted the business of a class of persons who are termed


who sell to the curriers or leather-sellers leather belonging to the tanners; or sell London-tanned leather to country purchasers, or country-tanned leather to London purchasers: in short, they are middlemen in the traffic in leather, as skin-salesmen are in the traffic in skins. Beyond this quadrangle is a , called the

Skin Depository,

and having entrances, from the larger quadrangle, and from a street leading into


. This depository is an oblong plot of ground terminated by semicircular ends: it is pitched with common road-stones along the middle, and flagged round with a broad foot-pavement. Over the pavement, through its whole extent, is an arcade supported by pillars; and the portion of pavement included between every contiguous pillars is called a


There are about of these


which are let out to skin-salesmen at about per annum each; and on the pavement of his bay the salesman exposes the skins which he is commissioned to sell. Here on market-days may be seen a busy scene of traffic between the salesmen on the hand and the fellmongers on the other. The carts, laden with sheep-skins, come rattling into the place, and draw up in the road-way of the depository; the skins are taken out, and ranged on the pavement of the bays; the sellers and buyers make their bargains; the purchase-money is paid into the hands of the salesman, and by him transmitted to the butcher; and the skins are removed to the yards of the fellmongers. Our frontispiece presents a sketch of the scene here described.

It is necessary here to mention a distinction which is made between and . The transactions alluded to above relate to skins only, that is, the coverings of sheep and calves, whereas the skins of oxen and horses are known in the trade as . It was supposed, when the New Skin-Market was built, that the dealings in hides would, in part at least, be carried on there as well as that in skins. But nearly all the ox-hides, from which the thicker kinds of leather are made, are still sold at Leadenhall Market, which has long been the centre of this trade. It is not difficult to see why this is the case, for cattle are generally slaughtered, not on the premises of the butcher, but in slaughter-houses near the flesh-markets, and therefore in the vicinity of Leadenhall hide-market. The grass-plot now existing in the area of the larger quadrangle of the Skin-Market is intended to be covered with additional warehouses or depositories, whenever the traffic may render such a step desirable. Nearly all the leather manufacturers in are proprietors in this Market.

There is, then, this difference between the earlier operations of the fellmongers and the tanners of , that the former purchase sheepskins at the Market from salesmen who act as agents to the London butchers, and then prepare the skins for the leather-dressers and parchment-makers; whereas the tanners purchase ox, cow, and calf skins at Leadenhall Market, from the hide-salesmen, as also horse-hides from the persons known as


and then tan these hides. There are many points of similarity between the departments; but there are also differences which make a broad line of distinction between them.

All the tanneries in London, with, we believe, exception, are situated in ; and all present nearly the same features. Whoever has resolution enough to brave the appeals to his organ of smell, and visit of these places, will see a large area of ground-sometimes open above, and in other cases covered by a roof-intersected by pits or oblong cisterns, whose upper edges are level with the ground: these cisterns are the tan-pits, in which hides are exposed to the action of liquor containing oak-bark. He will see, perhaps, in corner of the premises, a heap of ox and cow horns, just removed from the hide, and about to be sold to the comb-makers, the knife-handle-makers, and other manufacturers


of horn. He will see in another corner a
heap of refuse matter about to be consigned to the glue-manufacturer. In a covered building he will find a heap of hides exposed to the action of lime, for loosening the hair with which the pelt is covered; and in an adjoining building he will probably see a number of men scraping the surfaces of the hides, to prepare them for the tan-pits. In many of the tanneries, though not all, he will see stacks of spent tan, no longer useful in the tannery, but destined for fuel or manure, or gardeners' hot-beds. In airy buildings he will see the tanned leather hanging up to dry, disposed in long ranges of rooms or galleries. Such are the features which all the tanneries, with some minor differences, exhibit.

In the , and or other places in the vicinity, may be seen instances of of the purposes to which tan is appropriated. A large plot of ground contains, in addition to heaps of tan, skeleton frames about or feet in height, consisting of a range of shelves above another; and on these shelves are placed the oblong rectangular pieces of


with which the middle classes have not much to do, but which are extensively purchased for fuel, at




for a penny,

by the humbler classes. This is of the numerous branches of trade arising out of the leather-manufacture, and giving to so many of its peculiar characteristics.

The whole of the fell-mongers belonging to the metropolis are congregated within a small circle around the Skin-Market in . It forms no part


of the occupation of these persons to convert the sheepskins into leather. The skins pass into their hands with the wool on, just as they are taken from the sheep; and the fellmonger then proceeds to remove the wool from the pelt, and to cleanse the latter from some of the impurities with which it is coated. This occupation is extremely dirty and disagreeable, and offers few inducements to a visit from a stranger.

The produce of the fellmongers' labours passes into the hands of or other classes of manufacturers, such as the wool-stapler, the leather-dresser, and the parchment-maker. The wool-staplers, or in number, are, like the fell-mongers, located almost without a single exception in . They are wool-dealers, who purchase the commodity as taken from the skins, and sell it to the hatters, the woollen and worsted manufacturers, and others. They are scarcely to be denominated manufacturers, since the wool passes through their hands without undergoing any particular change or preparation; it is sorted into various qualities, and, like the foreign wool, packed in bags for the market. In a street called , intersecting , the large warehouses of these wool-staplers may be seen in great number; tiers of ware or store rooms, with cranes over them; waggons in the yard beneath; huge bags filled with wool--some arriving and others departing-these are the appearances which a wool-warehouse presents. It may, perhaps, not be wholly unnecessary to observe, that the sheep's wool here spoken of is only that portion which is taken from the pelt or skin of the slaughtered animal, and which is known by the name of skin-wool. The portion which is taken from the animal during life, and which is called


possesses qualities in some respects different from the former, and passes through various hands. As very few sheep are sheared near London, the shear-wool is not, generally speaking, brought into the London market, except that which comes from abroad.

The leather-dresser, to whom the pelts (the name applied to skins when the wool has been removed from them) are consigned by the fell-monger, undertakes the preparation of all the thinner kinds of leather, whether from the sheep-pelts just alluded to, or from goat, kid, deer, dog, or other thin skins. The leather for gloves, for women's shoes, for bookbinders, for coach-trimmings, and for ornamental purposes, is mostly prepared by the leather-dresser, who differs from the tanner in this, that the latter prepares the thicker hides, which require the process of tanning; whereas the former manufactures those thinner kinds of leather which are prepared with alum, with oil, and with other substances, but not by tanning. The same remark may be applied to the leather-dressers of the metropolis as to the tanners, the fell-mongers, and the wool-staplers-Bermondsey contains them all, with few exceptions. A leather-dresser's manufactory presents many of the features observable in a tannery. There are the pits or cisterns in which the skins and pelts are steeped; there are the blocks on which the skins are placed while being scraped; there are the drying-rooms in which the prepared leather is hung. But there are points in which the kinds of factories differ. When the tanner has tanned his leather, any staining, softening, or farther preparation which it may require is performed by the currier; whereas the leather-dresser brings the thinner kinds of leather to a completion, carrying


on within his own establishment all the processes, from the cleaning of the pelt to the consignment of the leather to the glove-maker, the shoemaker, or the bookbinder. The dyeing of coloured leather, the


of white leather, the


of wash-leather-all are done, to a greater or less extent, by the leather-dresser. There is extensive establishment at , known as the Neckinger Mills, at which, in addition to other varieties of leather, a very large proportion of all the


made in England is produced.

The stores of prepared leather kept at an establishment of this kind are immense. The mills here spoken of were built or years ago by a company who attempted the manufacture of paper from straw; but this failing, the premises passed into the hands of others, who established the leather-manufacture. In illustration of what was formerly stated respecting the tide-streams, we may remark that this is of the factories which still obtain their supply of water from this source. We have thought that a wood-cut representation, given in a previous page, of a leather-manufacturer's establishment, will convey a general idea of the appearance which derives from the numerous examples of them.

Glue-manufactories form another item in the list for which is so remarkable, and which, so far as the metropolis is concerned, is confined almost wholly to that locality. Here, as in the leather-manufacture, both buildings and open ground are required. The small erections which we have spoken of as being visible in the glue-manufactories from the Greenwich Railway are covered stages, or tiers--of frames, each frame having a net-work stretched across it, for the reception of thin cakes of glue, which are thus dried by the access of air. In passing of these factories more closely, the eye of a stranger is attracted by the appearance of thousands of small white substances, either suspended under roofs or lying on stages exposed to the open air. These are scraps and parings of hides and skins, useless to the leather-manufacturer, but valuable to the gluemaker, as the substance whence his glue is produced: they are thus exposed for the purpose of being dried before the gelatine is extracted from them. After all this has been done-after the tanner and the fellmonger, the leather-dresser and the glue-maker, have derived from the hides and skins all that is valuable to them, and have coined gold out of these rude substances--the refuse still possesses a value as manure, for which purpose it is sold to agriculturists and gardeners.

There was a time when the manufacture of hats formed of the characteristics of this neighbourhood; but this branch of manufacture, from some cause with which we are not well acquainted, has suffered a curious migration. At about the end of the last century and the beginning of the present, the


(a district between and the ), , the northern end of , and other streets in the immediate vicinity, formed tie grand centre of the hat-manufacture of London; but since then some commercial motive-power has exerted a leverage which has transferred nearly the whole assemblage farther westward. If we wish to find the centre of this manufacture, with its-subordinate branches of hat-block makers, hat-dyers, hat-lining and leather cutters, hat-shag makers, hat-tip makers, hat-bowstring


makers, hat-furriers, hat-trimming makers, &c., we must visit the district included between the and . A glance at that curious record of statistical facts, a

London Directory,

will show to what an extent this manufacture is carried on in the district just marked out. It is true that still contains hat-factory which has been characterised as the largest in the world, and that still exhibits a sprinkling of smaller firms; but the manufacture is no longer a feature to be numbered among the peculiarities of .

The connexion between fur, hair, wool, and skin-all being portions of the coating of animals-might raise a supposition that the manufacture or rather preparation of the , like that of the other , is carried on at . But this is the case only to a small extent. The fur for hatters is cut from the pelts of the beaver, the neutria, the rabbit, and other fur-bearing animals, by a class of tradesmen called

hatters' furriers,

residing principally in the hat. making district; while the furs which are left on the pelts such as are used for muffs and tippets are slightly dressed by persons residing in various parts of London.

A walk through the streets of shows us that everybody is busy and active. Scarcely any houses are shut up-scarcely any loiterers or idlers are looking about for a leaning-post. Unlike Spitalfields, which experiences great and frequent depressions in trade-thus bearing heavily on the resources and the comforts of the weaver--the staple manufacture of seems always more or less flourishing. We seldom hear of petitions, and subscriptions, and appeals, for the

poor tanners;

and long may it be before such are heard!

If this article should fall into the hands of any who are accustomed to cross daily in the course of their regular avocations, they will probably understand to whom we allude when we speak of the sack and bag women of . Not more regular are the

short stages

and omnibuses in their daily arrival from the villages south of the Thames, than the women whom we see bustling along to and fro over . Their features show them to be generally natives of the

Emerald Isle;

their garb shows that they move in a humble, a very humble, station in life; but their light and rapid walk or run, or-perhaps more correctly-trot, indicates the happy activity of persons having

something to do

by which an honest living may be gained. These women carry on their heads bundles of coarse canvas, either made up into bags and sacks, or about so to be. The corn-trade of , the wool-trade of , and other branches of commercial dealings, require a very large supply of coarse bags and sacks. There are many firms whose sole or principal occupation is to manufacture these bags, while other persons keep

sack and bag hire-warehouses.

The women to whom we allude are the persons who make these bags and sacks. They go to the warehouses, principally on the northern side of the water, receive each a bundle of coarse canvas or other woven material sufficient to make a certain number of bags, place the bundles on their heads, and-braving weather and crowds and interruptions right merrily-hasten to their own poor


dwellings, which are principally in the lower parts of . They receive, as may be supposed, an extremely low price for the labour which they bestow. As soon as the bags are made they are wrapped up into a bundle and carried home to the warehouses. The morning is the time when these busy journeyings to and fro are principally made; and they form among the many

moving pictures

which presents.


[n.18.1] London-No. XLIX. Spitalfields, p. 385.

[n.20.1] Oliver Twist, vol. iii. p 240.