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London Grows

For centuries most of London's water had been drawn from the Thames, carted up to streets in water wagons and sold from house to house in buckets by water carriers. Even though the cries of carriers continued into the early 19th century - 'Fresh and fair river water! None of your pipe sludge!' - it was the efforts of Hugh Myddleton (1560-1631), a London merchant who developed a piped system and a reservoir, the New River Head, that supplied the water. John Lofting's 'new sucking worm engine' was another innovation, devised for the 'speedy and easy quenching fires and draining ponds and other standing waters.'

The New Sukcing Worm Engine'(c.1690), facsimile engraving from Samuel Pepys's London: A Selection from his Scrapbooks of London and Westminster. London: D.S. Brewer, 1980. Stk++ N 8219 L7 S 559

Samuel Pepys's library of 3,000 volumes arranged by size, from No.1 (smallest) to 3,000 (largest), is at Magdalene College, Cambridge. Pepys was also a collector of ephemera, amassing many scarce posters, broadsheets, pamphlets, and chapbooks. These cards, which depict events of the Glorious Revolution of 1688, form part of his ephemera collection.

Playing Cards (facsimile) from the Library of Samuel Pepys. 1972.Stk GV 1201 CU58.

As an early architectural critic, John Gwynn sought to improve London after the Great Fire and vehemently fought for coherent town planning. In a stand against the'Wrenaissance', he described London as 'inconvenient, inelegant and without the least pretension to magnificence or grandeur.' He wanted a scenic London, with boulevards pointing to noble buildings. Looking at conjested bottlenecks like Charing Cross and Temple Bar, the refuse piling up at street corners, and open sewers like the Fleet, Gwynn asked: 'Where is the taste and elegance?' One of his achievements came in with the Building Act of 1774, which graded houses both in measurements and materials. The first triumph was Bedford Square, with 'first-rate' materials being used. It thus became desirable quarters for lawyers and other professionals. This is the first edition of Gwynn's major work.

John Gwynn, London and Westminster Improved. London: Printed for the Author, Sold by Mr Dodsley, and at Mr Dalton's Print-Warehousein Pall-Mall, Mr Bathoe in the Strand, Mr Davies in Russell Street, Covent Garden, and by Mr Longman in Pater-noster Row, 1766. DeB Ec 1766 G.

By tradition, a cockney is a person born within the sound of Bow Bells (belonging to St. Mary-le-bow Church, which was burnt down in 1666 but rebuilt by Wren in 1673) in Cheapside. (The term derives from the Middle English cokeney, a misshapen egg or cock's egg.) During the Middle Ages, it was applied to weak or effeminate men, but by the 17th entury was widely used as a denigrating synonym for 'Londoner.' Today, everyone is familiar with the cockney's use of rhyming slang ('plates of meat' - 'feet'), and the story of Dick Whittington, who heard the Bow Bells ring out, telling him to return because he would be Lord Mayor of London one day. Here George Sandys (1578-1643), the English traveller, colonist and poet, quotes other 'London' proverbs in his abridged version of Thomas Fuller's History of the Worthies of England.

George Sandys, Anglorum Speculum, or the Worthies of England in Church and State. London: Printed for Thomas Wright at the Crown on Lud-gate Hill, Thomas Passinger at the three Bibles on London-Bridge, and William Thackary at the Angel in Duck-Lane, 1684. DeB Eb 1684 A.

After providing a detailed plan of London with William Morgan, John Ogilby (1660-76) started on his most ambitious achievement: the mapping of the roads of England and Wales. Using a 'waywiser' (or 'wheel dimensurator'), his team measured and surveyed some 26,600 miles of road, although only about 7,500 were actually depicted in print. He chose the statute mile of 1,760 yards for his maps and produced them on a scale of one inch to one mile. Published in 1675, Britannia, with its detailed strip roads, proved to be extremely popular; there were many reprints and pirated editions. Of course London was always the starting point. Here is a later pocket-format edition, with its useful advice to travellers about London.

John Ogilby, Britannia Depicta, or Ogilby Improv'd. London: Printed for & sold by Thomas Bowles Print and Map Seller next Chapter House in St Paul's Churchyard and John Bowles Print & Map Seller over against Stock Market, 1724. DeB Eb 1724 O.

London's first playhouse (The Theatre) was built at Shoreditch in 1576. A second (The Curtain) opened nearby in 1577, but the regulations imposed by the authorities encouraged managers to move across the Thames to Southwark. By 1600, a theatrical complex had evolved in Bankside, with the Globe Theatre, the Rose, and the Swan attracting large audiences to performances of works by Shakespeare and his contemporaries. Theatres were also established in the north near Covent Garden. Many of them were interactive. Audiences were known for their rowdiness - calling onto stage, loudly expressing their opinions of the piece, booing, - 'the usual clamour.' And reactions were not confined to the players. J. J. Stockdale, the well-known London printer, compiled this account of the dispute between the managers of the new Covent Garden Theatre and the public; one issue being new admission prices versus old (O.P.) prices.

The Covent Garden Journal. London: Printed for J.J. Stockdale, 1810.DeB Eb 1810 C.