Thursday, 9 September 2010

Deptford Station, 1880s

At the start of her book Tenant Friends in Old Deptford, Ellen Chase describes the scene at the station:
No matter how often one might run down the stairway of the South-Eastern and Greenwich Railroad at Deptford, he coud not fail to be struck each time by the motley crowd of people jostling along the Main Street which leads from the Broadway towards the Foreign Cattle Market and the Royal Victoria Victualling Yards. There were tottering, grey-headed old pensioners with gilt buttons to their reefers; pinched, careworn women in rusty, ragged black; overdressed, boisterous girls amusing themselves by giggling and chafing with strangers; smart young red-coats swinging along in couples; and groups of rough hearty sailors from the cattle-steamers, shoving and rolicking along the crowded sidewalks, carrying all before them. And there were generally pedlars and beggars of one kind and another, women selling jumping-jacks from trays hanging about their necks; and in their season, men hawking primrose-roots from baskets, or rabbits dangling from the end of a stick. Here would be a vendor of whirligigs, there a mender of old umbrellas, or perhaps a blind bugler, or a couple of gaily kerchiefed Italian women with cages of fortune-telling canaries set above their rattling hand-organs. To add to the din, the noisy salesmen of the rival butchers' shops, "touting" for customers, shout out at the top of their lungs: "What'll you buy, buy, buy? What do you want, my dears? Lovely steak! lovely chops! What'll you buy? What'll you buy, buy, buy?"

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