London: from rural patchwork to urban sprawl



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  • County of London, 1898


    E Stanford’s Map of the County of London 1898. 68.5 x 102cm.

    Peter Barber: ‘Coloured to show London (since 1889) as a county in its own right and note pride in that but not quite keeping track with urban expansion, spilling out towards Muswell Hill and Finchley.’

    Alex Werner: ‘These maps are about people trying to understand London, which was the largest conurbation in the world, and the maps give the best sense of how quickly it was expanding. This is the jurisdiction of the London County Council, which is basically the old Metropolitan Board of Works boundaries and was when London was brought together for the first time. The map is showing the extent of the jurisdiction but not the limits of London, which was changing with transport. People who worked in the docks would still live very close to their place of employment but that was starting to change with the trams. The tram was a very cheap mode of transport and allowed working people to travel longer distances to work. These old parish names were starting to lose their relevance as the parishes became so developed and large that the old vestries could no longer look after them. At this point, the parish of Stepney had already been divided into different segments because it was so unwieldy. The population at the centre of London, the inner layer, was now almost static and the expansion was happening in the outer layers. Wealthy people were already commuting in from as far out as Guildford; although others were moving further in, to the new squares in the centre of London.’

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