THE WORST STREET IN LONDON
Halfway up Commercial Street, one block away from Spitalfields Market, lies an anonymous service road. The average pedestrian wouldn’t even notice it existed. But unlikely though it may seem, this characterless, 400ft strip of tarmac was once Dorset Street – the most notorious thoroughfare in the Capital; the worst street in London and the resort of Protestant fire-brands, thieves, con-men, pimps, prostitutes and murderers, most notably Jack the Ripper.
This splendid book chronicles the rise and fall of this most under-explored part of London by plundering the wealth of evidence left behind by the people who worked, lived and visited the area. From archaeological finds through to diaries and personal interviews, the lost docks of London are rediscovered through fascinating tales of Medieval mercers, river pirates, shipbuilders, merchant adventurers, mud larks, dockers, socialist agitators, brothel keepers and opium eaters to name but a few.
“A fine tribute to a lost world” – Alan Richardson
As people pound the streets of London, they probably never think of what might be just beneath their feet. London’s Labyrinth is an intriguing and surprising voyage through tunnels, ghost stations, lost rivers, sewers, bunkers and shelters not to mention miles and miles of modern cabling.
As modern London enters a new phase of tunneling, what better time to know and understand more about the labyrinthine byways that have grown and evolved beneath our feet, and reflect on the fact that they are the roots of the city and give life to the great Metropolis above.
Step back in time and experience Notting Hill like never before as Fiona delves into Notting Hill’s murky past shedding new light on its eclectic cast of bygone residents and historic incidents. From the horrifying murders at Rillington Place, the nefarious career of slum landlord Peter Rachman, the Profumo affair and London’s first race riots she reveals what life was like in what the Daily Mirror dubbed ‘Rotting Hill’. Lifting the current veil of luxury, she exposes with relish - and in-depth research - the sordid dark years when violence, extortion and disorder were everyday occurrences, and explores the price its residents had to pay to climb up out of the ghetto.
London’s old buildings hold a wealth of clues to the city’s rich and vibrant past. The histories of some, such as the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey, are well documented. However, these magnificent, world-renowned attractions are not the only places with fascinating tales to tell. Down a narrow, medieval lane on the outskirts of Smithfield stands 41-42 Cloth Fair – the oldest house in the City of London. Fiona Rule uncovers the fascinating survival story of this extraordinary property and the people who owned it and lived in it, set against the backdrop of an ever-changing city that has prevailed over war, disease, fire and economic crises.