London history over 2000 years
This is my take on London history over 2000 years which will also link to the current pub history site
The City of London, plus the surrounding Greater London, is the greatest place in the World to visit. It has amazing transport links, by air, road, rail and river. There is an unprecedented rail network, much of it deep underground, and being the oldest in the world, whilst other parts are above ground and largely accessible to most - and continues to improve in this manner. A major new 'Crossrail' network (the Elizabeth line) is due to open soon, which traverses the City from Heathrow in the west to Shenfield in the east, along with many new stations.
The City of London has a very rich history, evolving through time, and is the centre of Government, at Westminster, and of England since the 13th century, and Great Britain since 1707. For the past 2000 years and since the times of the Romans, London has been the main administrative centre of Government.
Local government in the City of London was appropriated to twenty five city wards, enclosing the many early church parishes, this is a simplistic view of this.
London is now one of the Worlds leading financial centres; with modern new buildings often in stark contrast to the older and historical buildings which also abound in the city. It also hosts some of the best Universities in the world; and four World Heritage sites. Interestingly, London has always been a favourite place to trade, but earlier trade deals would have been in the many coffee houses which abounded in the area of the City, e.g. in Cornhill or Cheapside. It was not until the re-building and extension of the Royal Exchange around 1820, that many of these trades would have taken place for merchants trading to the east Indies, and such like.
London is on the banks of the River Thames, often a barrier to earlier settlers; but more importantly, making London a great port city for trade. The first bridge to cross the Thames, and joining the north and south banks was London bridge. The many inns along the roads into London, particularly those in Southwark, are well documented in the writings of Pepys, Chaucer etc.
The best way to visit London historically, is by foot; or take a bus ride. London is unique in the number of excellent museums which are entirely free, and includes the two London Museums, at Barbican, and also near to Canary wharf. There is so much to see.
London has altered dramatically in the last 100 years. To consider that the motor car means of transport was formerly the horse, or stage coach; that commercial air travel to Heathrow did not start until at least 1946; and that the River Thames was a natural navigation for the bombers airplanes in the World War 2 when vast areas of London, and specifically the docks, and other commercial buildings, were ravaged.
London is incredibly cosmopolitan, and its populus is diverse in culture, religion, language speaking, and ethnicity. It has been the centre for those seeking shelter from persecution over the centuries.
Mention is made of communication and transport links in the first sentence. Nowhere was this more significant than through the very first railways of the 1830s and specifically between the 1840s and the 1860s. Prior to this, all heavy goods, commercial traffic, and foodstuffs such as grain, fish etc had to be transported by having direct links on a waterway, being a river or canal. Farms, and fishing fleets needed to be within easy reach of the centre, and livestock would be transported by road.
The first stations to open in London were from about 1836, at London Bridge, Euston,
This was clearly not unique to London alone, as many other towns in Great Britain grew in this industrial revolution, which is noted as starting in the 1780s using steam power in production where manual processes were previously used. The cheaper production of iron was an additional reason for railways to become more economical to build.
The introduction of the faster, and cheaper rail systems meant that supply chains were suddenly much greater, and led to many cheaper imports from the United States, e.g. grain; or the fishing fleet located at Barking, just along the Thames, moved in its entirety to the Lowestoft area. This also led to many of the farms in close proximity to London, suddenly becoming almost worthless. This was the 1860s.
Apparently, London's streets were paved with gold, and much of the farming community moved in massive swathes towards the capital. London grew in size exponentially, as did the efforts in building ever more homes, on swathes of previously agricultural land and open countryside. A natural progression which still haunts London workers to this day.
An important physician, John Snow, (not of Channel4 or Game of Thrones), was noted for his work in tracing sources of cholera epidemics relating to a specific water supply. He used data recording, to identify that a pump in Broad street was the obvious source, and this eventually led to the understanding that this was a water borne disease.
This page is complete for a while, as I decide what needs to be added to this site. see the navigation menus for more wisdom, as it is added.
And Last updated on: Tuesday, 16-Apr-2019 12:00:51 BST
London pub history directory.