1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/London
LONDON (see 16.938), the capital of the British Empire, was still in 1921 the largest city in the world, surpassing its nearest competitor (Greater New York) by at least one and a half million souls. The Metropolitan Police District has a radius of 15 m. from Charing Cross (area about 692 sq. m.)., but it does not include the City of London (area 658 ac.), which has its own police force. The area of the administrative county of London, which coincides with that within the registrar-general's tables of mortality, is about 117 sq. m.; by the Representation of the People Act of 1918 it included the whole of the Metropolitan Parliamentary Divisions, as well as the 28 Metropolitan Boroughs and the City. The London main drainage area is 148.6 sq. m. in extent. Water London has an area of 561.4 sq. m.
The multiplication and electrification of suburban railways and the extraordinary development of the motor-omnibus and the private motor-car have greatly increased the extent of what may be called the practicable area of suburban London. An interesting development is the Hampstead Garden Suburb, at Golders Green, on the N. side of London, in which every house stands in its own garden and the number of houses is limited to eight to the acre. The pre-war rents varied from 3s. 3d. a week to £350 a year. About 2,000 houses have been erected.
The Unemployment (Relief Works) Act of 1920, largely designed for the benefit of ex-service men, enabled entry to be made upon land for new roads at seven days' notice. Under this Act no fewer than nine great arterial roads had been taken in hand in 1921 by highway authorities with the assistance of the Ministry of Transport (which absorbed the old Road Board). These were the Eltham Bye Pass, the Shooters Hill Bye Pass, the South Circular Rd. (through Woolwich, etc.), the North Circular Rd. (through Willesden, Hendon, etc.), the Western Avenue (through Hammersmith), the Eastern Avenue (across the Lea Marshes), the new Cambridge Rd. (starting at Tottenham), the Barking Bye Pass, and the new Chertsey Rd. The Croydon Bye Pass and the Brentford Bye Pass were begun somewhat earlier. There were in 1921 over 2,200 m. of streets in the county of London, maintained and kept in good order at a total cost of at least £3,000,000 per annum. Street improvements of more than local importance are generally carried out by the London County Council.
The only new bridge over the Thames is Southwark bridge, which was opened for traffic on June 6 1921. It has five arches and is 13 ft. wider than the old one.
The Woolwich tunnel, connecting N. and S. Woolwich and consisting of an iron tube 327 yd. long and 11 ft. in diameter, was opened in 1912 at a cost of £85,862. It is intended as a supplement to the free ferry (still used by vehicles), which is subject to interference from fogs. In 1920 the daily average of passengers using this tunnel was about 28,000, not far short of double the number using the Greenwich tunnel. Blackwall tunnel is traversed daily by about 2,000 vehicles. Rotherhithe tunnel was closed from 1915 to 1918, but its daily average in 1919 was about 1,500 vehicles.
Architecture.—During 1910-21 comparatively few additions of importance were made to the architectural glories of London; but it is, perhaps, more strange that the interminable series of aerial bombardments to which it was subjected during the World War left practically no trace on any buildings of public interest. There was really almost nothing to show that London was besieged from the air for four years. The fine old Flemish windows in the chapel of Lincoln's Inn were indeed shattered by a Zeppelin bomb on Oct. 13 1915; but this loss is, perhaps, counterbalanced by the discovery of an unknown Elizabethan façade near St. Bartholomew's church, brought to light by the concussion of another bomb in the same year.
Such new buildings as call for mention here were mainly erected in connexion with schemes of improvement initiated before the World War. The extensive clearances made in and to the N. of the Strand in 1899-1905, chiefly to provide a new approach to Holborn, opened up the view of St. Mary-le-Strand and St. Clement Danes, and created the handsome crescent of Aldwych and the broad new thoroughfare of Kingsway. Among the edifices already erected in the former are Australia House (1911-18), the imposing London headquarters of the Commonwealth of Australia; the Marconi House, and the Gaiety theatre (elevation by Norman Shaw). The Bush House, close by, designed by Harvey Corbett, architect of the Bush building in New York, illustrates (with some restrictions as to height) the merits of American commercial architecture. The substantial buildings of Kingsway belong mainly to the domain of architectural engineering. Prominent among them are the Kodak building and the large office of the Public Trustee (1916). The Wesleyan Central Hall in Westminster is a huge domed building by Lanchester and Rickard (1911), with a fine staircase. Not far off is the Middlesex Guildhall, a Gothic building by J. S. Gibson (1913). The new Ministries of Education, Health, Trade and Works were designed by J. M. Brydon in an Italian Renaissance style and completed in 1919. Across the river, at the other end of Westminster bridge, stands the new London County Hall, designed by Ralph Knott in a Renaissance style. It is one of the largest buildings of modern times, having nine storeys and a river façade of 750 feet. In the City is the new General Post Office (1910), a reënforced concrete building by Sir Henry Tanner. The Royal Automobile Club in Pall Mall was built in 1911 by Mewes & Davis, in a somewhat florid French Renaissance style. Among commercial buildings of importance are the large extension of Selfridge's store by Sir J. Burnet (1921); the extension of Whiteley's in Queen's Rd., Bayswater; the new offices of the Port of London Authority (by T. E. Cooper) and the Metropolitan Water Board (by H. Austen Hall, 1920).
Monuments and Memorials.—On Nov. 11 1920, the second anniversary of the Armistice after the World War, in the middle of the roadway of Whitehall, was unveiled the Cenotaph, commemorating in dignified simplicity the “Glorious Dead of 1914-18.” It was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens. Other war memorials include one to Edith Cavell (by Frampton) near Trafalgar Sq., one to London's soldiers (by Sir Aston Webb) in front of the Royal Exchange, and the Monument of Belgium's Gratitude (by J. Rousseau and Sir R. Blomfield) on the Victoria Embankment. In front of Buckingham Palace is the elaborate National Memorial to Queen Victoria, designed by Sir Aston Webb, the sculptures by Sir Thomas Brock. To provide a suitable background for this monument the façade of the E. wing of Buckingham Palace was rebuilt by Sir Aston Webb, while the Mall was widened to provide a “triumphal avenue” to the massive Admiralty arch. Near Westminster Abbey has been erected a replica of St. Gaudens' famous Chicago statue of Abraham Lincoln; and a replica of Houdon's statue of George Washington has been set up near the National Gallery. On the top of the Green Park arch is a fine group of Peace in her quadriga, by Adrian Jones (1912). On the Horse Guards Parade are statues of Lord Wolseley (by Goscombe John) and Lord Roberts (by H. Bates); and similar monuments to Lord Kitchener and Lord Fisher are to follow. Statues of Florence Nightingale (1913) and Captain Scott, the Arctic navigator (1915), have been erected in Waterloo Place; and here, too, is the monument to Edward VII., by Bertram MacKennal (1921).
Communication.—The terminal railway stations were, of course, a favourite target of the German airmen during the war; considerable damage was done to Liverpool St. station on June 13 1917, and St. Pancras also was injured slightly on Feb. 17 1918. The new Waterloo station, begun before the war, was nearly completed in 1921. The Central London railway had been extended to Liverpool St. and Ealing (in conjunction with the G.W.R.) The Bakerloo tube ran to Queen's Park, where a junction was effected with the L. & N.W.R. for through running to Watford. The Metropolitan District trains reach Hounslow, Uxbridge. East Ham and Barking. No new “tubes” had been opened, but various schemes of extension were in the air. The Underground group of companies (popularly known as the “Traffic Combine”), formed by the amalgamation of the Metropolitan District, the London Electric, the City and South London and Central London railways, and the London General Omnibus Co., had greatly improved facilities for through traffic between the associated companies. Its headquarters are at Electric Railway House, Broadway, Westminster. Fares had been standardized and, though necessarily higher than in pre-war days, were (judged by the average fare paid per passenger) cheaper than in New York, Paris or Berlin.
The total mileage of tramways in Greater London in 1921 was 350. Horse traction for trams had disappeared. The annual number of passengers approached 700 millions. There were no tramways in the City or West End.
The great majority of motor omnibuses belong to the London General Omnibus Co., and are included in the above-mentioned “Combine” and in one system of numbered routes. Improved new vehicles have been introduced, carrying from 46 to 54 passengers (as compared with 34 on the old type). They carried 860 million passengers in all in 1919. During the busiest traffic period at least 300 to 400 omnibuses pass certain points hourly. In summer motor-omnibuses run to points 30 m. from the centre of the metropolis. A notable feature has been the great increase in motor chars-à-bancs running to places of interest within a radius of 50 m. or more from London.
Hansoms are now rarely seen, and the horse-drawn four-wheeler carries on a precarious existence only in the service of railway passengers with bulky luggage. The general service is maintained by motor vehicles (“taxicabs”), all provided with automatic taximeters. Of the 13,794 hackney carriages licensed to ply for hire in 1919, less than 2,000 were horse-drawn. Probably 75% of the entire traffic of the London streets is now carried on by motor.
London was in 1921 in regular communication with the continent of Europe by air. There were four daily services to Paris, one to Brussels, and one to Amsterdam, all starting from the Croydon aerodrome. About 400 passengers were dealt with weekly, and the number was steadily increasing. These services connect with air-services to various other points in Europe and even (via Spain) to Africa (Casablanca).
Post Office.—The buildings of the General Post Office were greatly extended, and an underground tube railway was constructed for the conveyance of postal packets of all kinds, extending W. to Paddington and E. to Whitechapel. The eight postal districts were subdivided into delivery office areas, each with its distinctive number, so that postal addresses are now completed with such formulae as W.C.1, N.W.3, S.E.25, and so on. In addition to the General Post Office and the head district offices there were 105 local delivery offices.
Telephones.—In accordance with the agreement of 1905 the State took over the whole business of the National Telephone Co. on Jan. 1 1912. Telephone call offices for public use are now found at nearly all post-offices and railway stations, and at many shops, public libraries and the like. The London telephone area is 640 sq. m. in extent, containing 83 exchanges with an average of about 1,000,000 daily calls. Its headquarters are at I44A, Queen Victoria Street. From certain offices trunk calls may be made to any part of the country; and London is also in telephonic communication with various Continental towns.
Population and Public Health.—The pop. of Greater London in 1911 was 7,251,338 and in 1921 7,476,168; that of the county was 4,521,685 in 1911 and 4,483,249 in 1921; of the Outer Ring 2,729,673 in 1911 and 2,992,929 in 1921; of the City 19,657 in 1911 and 13,706 in 1921. Greater London increased by 10.2% between 1901 and 1911 and by 3.1% between 1911 and 1921, but the county of London had decreased by 0.3% and 0.9%.
The statistics for the metropolitan boroughs are as follows:—
|Westminster, City of||2,503||160,261||141,317||-18,944|
|City of London (County Corporate)||678||19,657||13,706||-5,951|
The proposed new “London health area” would contain more than 9,000,000 souls.
The birth-rate sank from 24.3 per 1,000 in 1914 to 17.9 in 1917, but it had climbed again (according to the estimates of the registrar-general) to 26.5 in 1920. The death-rate curve for the same period was 13, 18, 12.4. Both birth and death rates are below the figures for 1910-4 (28.5 and 16.5 respectively). The comparative death-rates for the different boroughs were about the same, and London maintained its relatively favourable position in comparison with other large towns.
Sanitation.—The general regulations as to public health remain much as they were in 1910. The Act of 1891 was supplemented by the Housing Acts of 1909 and 1919, and various Diseases of Animals Acts. Many of the provisions or the National Insurance Acts of 1911-20 are administered by an Insurance Committee of 80 members, one-fifth of whom are appointed by the County Council. The mileage of the main sewers had increased to about 370 m., the cost of construction (to March 1919) to £12,608,000, and the annual cost of maintenance to about £500,000 (1918-9). The total annual cost, including debt charges and the work of the Metropolitan Borough Councils, was nearly £1,000,000 (1918-9).
Hospitals.—The powers of the Metropolitan Asylums Board were further defined by sundry orders of the Ministry of Health, and its scope and services increased. The activity of the London County Council, which controls the asylums for acute or recoverable cases of insanity, was especially notable in the improved treatment of tuberculosis and venereal diseases and in the campaign against infant mortality. The growing share of woman in the medical life of London is illustrated, e.g. by the existence of several hospitals wholly run by women. The so-called “Unit System,” adopted from America, will (it is hoped) prove of great benefit.
Water Supply.—Under the Metropolitan Water Board Act of 1915 the Board was completing in 1921 a reservoir at Littleton, with a capacity of 6,350,000,000 gallons. The existing storage reservoirs for unfiltered water had an area of nearly 2,000 ac. with a capacity of 13,000,000 gallons. The total supply in 1919-20 was 100,079,000,000 gals. of water, being a daily average of 273,400,000 gallons (about 40 gallons per head of population). The total income on revenue account for 1919-20 was £3,158,391, and the expenditure £4,143,258, leaving a deficiency of £984,867, which was met by precepts levied on the contributory authorities. In 1916 the Metropolitan Water Board decided to save coal by chlorinating raw
Thames river water (70-80 million gals, per day) and allowing the treated water to flow by gravity down the Staines aqueduct, instead of first pumping it up into the Staines reservoir. The amount thus saved up to March 31 1921 was calculated at £20,000. As regards the reduction of bacteria (95%) the success was complete.
Fire Prevention.—The London Fire Brigade had in 1921 a staff of about 1,900, and the gross cost of its maintenance exceeded £650,000 annually. In 1920 it dealt with 4,282 fires (besides 2,272 false alarms). An interesting part of its work is that carried on on the Thames, where it had three stations with fire-floats.
Cemeteries.—Twenty-one of the Metropolitan Borough Councils had adopted the Burial Acts and seven had not. The City Corp. had a crematorium at Little Ilford, the London Cremation Co. had established crematoria at Woking and Golders Green, and the South Metropolitan Cemetery Co. had one at Norwood; but no Borough Council had in 1921 provided one. The practice of cremation is controlled by the Home Secretary. In 1920 the cremations in London numbered 1,337.
Education.—The London County Council is the local education authority for the Administrative County of London. It works through a statutory committee of 50 members, including the chairman, vice-chairman and deputy-chairman of the council, and 12 coöpted members. In 1920 14 of the members were women. The total number of public elementary schools in London in 1920 was 950, with 854,979 children scheduled and an average attendance of 624,436. The expenditure was £5,972,375 on Council schools and £1,272,701 on Non-Provided schools. The Education (Provision of Meals) Acts of 1906 and 1914 empower local authorities to provide meals for necessitous children in elementary schools, and in 1921 about 29,000 children were fed in this way. The secondary schools in the county of London were attended by about 41,000 pupils and cost about 180,000. The evening institutes and continuation schools were taken advantage of by 135,000 students and involve an annual expenditure of over £300,000. The total annual expenditure of the London County Council for higher education of all kinds approaches £3,000,000.
Public Schools.—To the public schools named in the earlier article must be added University College school, founded in 1830 by a group of Liberal thinkers (including Brougham, Hallam and James Mill) and removed in 1907 from Cower Street to large new premises in Hampstead. It is attended by over 400 boys.
University of London.—The teaching and research work of the university are carried out in (a) incorporated colleges and institutions (University College, King's College, King's College for Women, including the Household and Social Science department, Goldsmiths' College, the Brown Animal Sanatory Institution, the Physiological Laboratory, the Gallon Laboratory for Eugenics, and the Bartlett School of Architecture); (b) over 30 schools of the university, including the Imperial College of Science and Technology (Royal College of Science, Royal School of Mines, and the City and Guilds Engineering College), Bedford College, London School of Economics, East London College, Royal Holloway College, Birkbeck College, and the medical schools attached to the great hospitals; and (c) about 25 institutes having recognized teachers. During the World War, the university had, of course, largely to mark time; but it had in 1921 more than regained its pre-war standard of efficiency. The number of internal students was nearly 8,000, and the total number of candidates for examinations in 1920-1 was 23.563. Among the chief events in its recent history are the opening of the handsome new buildings of Bedford College in Regent's Park (1913), and of the new buildings of the Imperial College and University College, the opening of the School of Oriental Studies in 1917, and the establishment of degrees in commerce (1918), of training in journalism (1920), and of an Institute of Historical Research (1921), and the erection of new buildings for commerce teaching at the School of Economics. In 1920 the Rockefeller Trustees presented to the university a sum of £370,000 for University College, and £835,000 for University College hospital school. In this year, too, the Government offered the university a site of 11½ ac. in Bloomsbury, where it was hoped that it would soon possess a dignified home of its own.
Museums, Art Galleries, Libraries.—The museums and public galleries of London, generally closed or commandeered for Government purposes during the World War, had all been practically restored by 1921 to their normal functions. A new feature at the chief collections is the guide-lecturer who conducts visitors round one or more of the departments (free). The British Museum was greatly extended by the opening in 1914 of the King Edward VII. Galleries, to the N. of the main building. The Victoria and Albert Museum had been placed on a more autonomous basis and divided into seven departments. The collections are arranged upon strict scientific lines, with the double purpose of stimulating the designer and manufacturer, and of spreading a knowledge and appreciation of art. The Indian section now occupies a separate building in the Imperial Institute Road. In 1916 the Imperial Institute was placed under the control of the Colonial Office. On the S. side of Imperial Institute Rd.. adjoining the Imperial College of Science, is the new Science Museum, the first completed block of which was opened in 1920. The London Museum (1914) is a collection illustrating the history, life and manners of London, on the lines of the Musée
Carnavalet at Paris; it occupies what was long known as Stafford House, which was presented to the nation by Lord Leverhulme in 1912, when its name was changed to Lancaster House, in honour of the royal title “Duke of Lancaster” and of the generosity of a Lancashire man. The Imperial War Museum, provisionally housed in the Crystal Palace at Sydenham, is a marvellous record of the efforts and unity of the British Commonwealth during the war. The National Gallery was considerably enlarged in 1911, the Tate Gallery in 1910. The Geffrye Museum (1914), situated in the heart of the cabinet-making district of London (Hoxton), illustrates the development of furniture design.
The provision of public libraries by local authorities is governed by the Public Libraries Acts, 1892-1919. In London these Acts have been adopted by practically all the Metropolitan Borough Councils, and the free public libraries contained in 1921 over one and a quarter million books. Among the largest are those of Lambeth (110,000 vols.), Wandsworth (100,000), and Westminster (90,000). Over 6,000,000 books are taken out annually by about 220,000 borrowers.
Theatres and Places of Entertainment.—Places of public entertainment operate under one or more of four licences: (1) Stage plays, (2) music and dancing, (3) music only, (4) cinematograph. The licensing authorities are the Lord Chamberlain and the County Council. Covent Garden is still the chief home of opera; of equal importance with it in the history of the drama is Drury Lane theatre, now used mainly for spectacular drama. Additions to the London theatres were the Winter Garden, the Ambassador's, the New Oxford, Prince's and St. Martin's. The growth of the cinematograph was a notable feature, and the “films” or “pictures,” besides numerous specially erected buildings, now occupy several old theatres. Various suburban theatres (such as the Lyric at Hammersmith and Everyman's at Hampstead) made a reputation for the excellence of their productions, and the Royal Victoria Hall (the “Old Vic.”) in Waterloo Rd. has done admirable work in familiarizing the masses with classic English drama and good music.
The chief public flying-grounds are at Hendon, Croydon and Northolt, at any of which machines may be hired for short flights, for day trips to. places like Brighton, and for longer journeys. Exhibitions of fancy flying and racing are also held.
Port of London.—The Port of London occupies about 70 m. of the Thames, extending from just below Teddington Lock to a line drawn from Havengore Creek (Essex) to Warden Point (Kent). The Port Authority was constituted by an Act of 1908, and an Act of 1920 consolidated and unified all Acts relating to the Docks and Rivers since 1828. Trinity House also exercises rights in respect of pilotage, lighting and buoying, and the City Corp. is the port sanitary authority. The total area of the dock estate is about 3,000 ac. (of which 704 are water), with over 30 m. of quayage. The wharf and jetties (with 15 m. of quayage) remain in private hands. Between 1909 and 1921 very considerable improvements and extensions were carried out in the system of docks. The most important of these was the new Albert dock extension (south), opened in July 1921, which includes a dock 64 ac. in area with accommodation for the largest vessels afloat, a new entrance lock 800 ft. long, and a drydock 750 ft. long. Tilbury docks were also being extended, and were supplemented by a cargo jetty 1,000 ft. long and a pontoon for passenger steamers similar to that at Liverpool. The warehouse accommodation at the docks was greatly enlarged, and various spacious uptown warehouses constructed. In 1913 (the last complete year before the World War) the total value of imports and exports of London (excluding coastwise trade) was £411,792,149 (about one-fourth of the total for the United Kingdom). The tonnage of vessels entering the port (foreign and colonial trade) was 12,916,378, of those clearing 8,131,660. The war affected the business of the port in many directions. Large requisitions were made on the Authority's facilities, space and plant; and a serious disturbance of all normal trade was inevitable. The tonnage of vessels entering and clearing sank in 1914-5 to 11,586,967 and 6,832,569 (a decrease of 2½ million tons); and the lowest point was reached in 1917-8 with 5,276,445 and 3,631,009 tons. The value of the trade, however, increased to £505,000,000 in 1917, and £542,000,000 in 1918. This increase was solely in imports, exports showing a continual decrease. In the year ending March 31 1919 the total value of the trade was £819,875,330 (about one-third of that for the United Kingdom), the highest figures ever attained. That this was due mainly to a rise in price, not in quantity, is shown by the fact that the total tonnage in 1919-20 was only 15,224,787, about 6,000,000 tons below that of the last pre-war year.
Government.—The Representation of the People Act of 1918 somewhat altered the boundaries of the London parliamentary boroughs. Since the passing of the Act, the London County Council has consisted of 124 councillors and 20 aldermen. The number of electors in London on the first registers compiled under the Act of 1918 was as follows:—
At the election of 1919 (postponed during the World War) there were returned 68 Municipal Reform (or “Moderates”), 40 Progressive, one Independent, and 15 Labour members.
The Representation of the People Act, 1918, rearranged the boundaries of all the London parliamentary boroughs, except the City of London. It provided that the Administrative County of London should be divided into 61 parliamentary constituencies, the City of London returning two members, the others one each (see United Kingdom). The boundaries of the county electoral divisions are coterminous with those of the parliamentary constituencies.
Ecclesiastical Divisions.—To the suffragan bishops must be added those of Willesden (1911), Woolwich (1918) and Kingston (1914). Leading Nonconformist churches were Westbourne Park chapel, Westminster chapel, Christ church (Westminster), King's Weigh House chapel, the Scottish National church, and St. Columba's (Presbyterian). There were in 1921 eight Christian Science churches in London proper, and as many more in extra-London. The headquarters of the Church Army are at 55 Bryanston Street. To the French churches should be added the Huguenot Episcopal church in Shaftesbury Avenue. The Dutch church in Austin Friars is of great historical interest. The church of the Theosophical Society in Tavistock Sq. is a striking building by Sir E. Lutyens. The Catholic Apostolic church in Gordon Sq. is one of the largest and most striking ecclesiastical edifices in London. The number of ecclesiastical parishes is now 633.
Finance.—Apart from provisional and temporary measures during the World War there have been no important modifications of the financial government of London since 1911. For the year 1919-21 the total sum raised by the General Rates was £22,104,510, an increase of about 0½ millions over that of 1906-7. The rate for 1920-1 showed an increase of about 10 millions over 1906-7. The total local expenditure of London for 1917-8 (the latest year available) was £30,528,746; the chief items were London County Council £13.512,674; Metropolitan Borough Councils £5,555,217; Board of Guardians £3,427,456; Metropolitan Water Board £2,645,073; Metropolitan Police £2,679,002; City Corporation £1,314,696; Metropolitan Asylums Board £1,330,557. The average rate for 1919-20 was slightly under 10s. in the £, and the estimated rate for the first half-year of 1921-2 about 7s. 10½d. (equal to an annual rate of 15s. 9d.). In 1920 the total ratable value of immovable property in the county of London was £45,638,701 (an increase of 2.3% since 1909). In 1921, however, it rose to £48,708,752 (9.2% over 1909). A penny rate produces over £200,000 (1921-2). The Equalization Fund produces about £1,217,000; but rates still vary from 22s. 10d. in Poplar to 11s. 6d. in Westminster and 10s. 6d. in the City. The estimated income of the London County Council for 1920-1 was £27,535,033; that of the City Corporation in 1919-20 was £211,272. The debts of the London local authorities 6n March 31 1918 were as follows: London County Council £47,549,550; Metropolitan Asylums Board £1,191,783; Metropolitan Police £74,345; Metropolitan Water Board £39,255,555; Central (Unemployed) Body £1,200; City of London Corporation and Metropolitan Borough Councils £16,190,366; Guardians and Sick Asylum managers £2,048,448 (total £106,311,247, a decrease of 8 millions since 1908). The aggregate capital expenditure by the London County Council and its predecessors down to March 31 1919 was £98,576,171.
History.—The history of London after 1909 was largely the chronicle of an interruption or arrest of its normal growth in population, extent, wealth and progress generally. According to the estimates of the registrar-general the increase in population from 1911-20 was relatively small. Between 1911 and 1920 the assessable value increased only by about 2½%, as compared with an increase of 12½% in 1901-11, and of 20% in 1891-1901. The tonnage of shipping entering and clearing the port had not yet regained in 1920 its pre-war figure, though the inflation of values showed an increase in terms of money. With the exception of relatively unimportant extensions no new tubes or tramways had been constructed; new schemes of improvement and extensions in streets, housing, water-supply and the like had been suspended, or only just resumed. The death-rate, which had decreased steadily down to 1912, jumped from 13.6 per 1,000 in that year to 19.2 in 1918, and the birth-rate decreased in a similar proportion. This “arrest,” however, had by no means been due to stagnation, because probably no similar period had taken London's citizens more emphatically out of the category of the happy people who have no history and into the realm of excitement and adventure. On May 31 1915, London was startled by the first hostile attack it had experienced for nine centuries; and from then till May 1918 it was the persistent target of German airmen (see Air-Raids). In all it was reached 25 times by hostile air-ships (seven raids) and aeroplanes (eighteen raids). No fewer than 922 bombs were dropped within the county of London, of which 355 were incendiary and 567 explosive; 524 persons were killed and 1,264 injured. The material damage has been estimated at over £2,000,000, or about one-fifth of that occasioned by the great fire of 1666. East London suffered most severely. Practically no buildings of historic or artistic value were seriously injured. London's defence, which was increasingly successful, consisted partly of barrage fire from anti-aircraft guns and partly of British “counter-planes.” An “apron barrage” of wire trailed from balloons was also tried. Tube stations, church crypts and so on were used as refuges between the “warning” and “all clear” signals. On June 13 1917, a bomb fell on a County Council school at Poplar, killing and injuring a number of children. On March 7 1918, a single bomb destroyed four four-storey houses in Paddington, wrecked two, and seriously damaged twelve others. The greatest financial damage was done by the raid of Sept. 7 1915, when City property to the value of over £500,000 was destroyed by fire. (For particulars of damage done elsewhere than in Poplar by the air raid of June 13 1917, see 30.97.)
The war-time restrictions included the great diminution of the lighting of the streets after nightfall; an airship patrol to see that the shading of all lights was properly carried out; the patrolling of voluntary “special constables,” taking over many of the duties of the regular police; the multiplication of “flag-days,” when little flags were sold in the streets for benevolent purposes usually directly associated with the war; the occupation of the public parks and other open spaces by hutments for one kind or another of Government service, or by allotments cultivated by private citizens for the increase of the national food-supply; the limitation in the transport services, including the closing of several suburban stations; the restriction of private motoring; the queues outside the provision shops; the commandeering by Government of many of the leading hotels and of numerous large private houses, the latter chiefly as hospitals and convalescent homes; the closing of a certain proportion of places of entertainment, and the temporary abandonment or transference elsewhere of some of the chief annual fixtures in the sphere of sport; the closing (total or partial) of the British Museum, National Gallery, and other public collections; the protection of historic buildings by sand-bags, the temporary removal of their treasures, and the substitution of wood for stained glass; the arrangements for the accommodation and support of many thousands of Belgian refugees; the setting apart of the Alexandra Palace and other large institutions as internment camps; the appearance of women as omnibus and tramway conductors (an outward and visible sign of the enormous part played by women during the war in providing substitutes for male labour). Aliens, of course, had to submit in London to the general restrictions, but London never became a “prohibited area.”
During the war London and its neighbourhood became the seat of a very extensive production of munitions of all kinds, employing great numbers of women as well as men. One of the unhappy incidents of their activity was the explosion of a munition factory at Silvertown on Jan. 19 1917, followed by a disastrous fire and the loss of 69 lives (400 casualties in all).
Among other London incidents directly connected with the war may be mentioned the anti-German riots of 1914; the execution of Sir Roger Casement at Pentonville on Aug. 13 1916; the execution in the Tower of Carl Lodz (1914), Müller (1915), and other spies and traitors; the march of American troops through London on Aug. 15 1917; the burial of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey (Nov. 11 1920), the great memorial services in St; Paul's Cathedral in honour of Nurse Cavell (1915); to celebrate America's coming into the war (1917); to render thanks for the restoration of peace (July 6 1919); and the remarkable scenes of rejoicing in the London streets on the proclamation of the Armistice on Nov. 11 1918.
Among events not due to the war were the death of Edward VII. at Buckingham Palace in 1910, the coronation of George V. at Westminster Abbey in the following year; the “Suffragette” violence of 1914, amply atoned for later in public estimation by the admirable war services of the women suffragists; the first aerial Derby round London on June 6 1914; the more or less abortive police strike of Aug. 1919 (for recognition of their union); the railway strike of Sept. in the same year, when 20,000 motor-cars were assembled in Hyde Park to maintain the supply of milk; the coal-miners' strike of 1921, when the authorities had again to have recourse to emergency measures for public protection; the great advance in the use of oil fuel, largely consequent on the shortage of coal caused by the strike.
Recent excavations in London have brought to light an arch of old London bridge (near St. Magnus' church), fragments of the Roman wall in Moorfields, and a number of 15th century boots and shoes in such good condition that the leather was used by the modern workmen to mend their own footwear; a water conduit of doubtful use and date under Bond St. (possibly of the 17th century, and used as a reservoir for the water of Tyburn); and Roman coins and charred remains of clay and wood in King William St., referred by some authorities to Boadicea's destruction of London in 61 A.D.
Bibliography.—The chief official publications consulted in the preparation of the foregoing article include the London Statistics of the London County Council (vol. 26, 1915-20); James Bird, Clerk of the Council, Report of the Council to 31st March 1919; the annual Accounts of the Corporation of London; the Reports of the Port of London Authority (1910-20); the Port of London (Consolidation) Act, 1920; Reports of the University of London (1909-21). The Survey of London, published by the London County Council and edited by Sir Laurence Gomme and Philip Norman, is on a very extensive scale; the first six volumes had appeared by 1915. The London Topographical Record, dealing with special districts, was prepared by the London Topographical Society (10 vols.; 1900-15). London, vol. 1, of English Topography, edited by Sir L. Gomme (1914); H. H. Harben, Dictionary of London (i.e. the City) 1917); Sir L. Gomme, Making of London (1914); London of the Future (1921), prepared by the London Society, includes contributions from Sir Aston Webb, Lord Crewe, Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, Sir Reginald Blomfield, and many other authorities.
Small descriptive works include E. V. Lucas, A Wanderer in London (l4th ed. 1913) and London Revisited (1916); Wilfred Whitten, A Londoner's London (1913); Mrs. E. T. Cook, Highways and Byways in London (1911); G. R. S. Taylor, Historical Guide to London (1911); St. John Adcock, Famous Houses and Literary Shrines of London (1912) and the Booklover's London (1913); P. H. Boynton, London in English Literature (1913). The Blue Guide to London and Its Environs, edited by Findlay Muirhead, is a useful compendium (2nd ed. 1921). Convenient short histories are those by K. H. Vickers (1914) and Claud Mullins (1920); its government is explained in Percy A. Harris's London and Its Government (1913).
The following refer to special districts, periods or features: E. Beresford Chancellor, The 18th Century in London (1920); Arthur Irwin Dasent, Piccadilly in Three Centuries (1920); W. H. Godfrey, History of Architecture in London (1911); Hilaire Belloc, The River of London (1913); W. G. Bell, Unknown London (1920); More About Unknown London (1921); Will Owen, Old London Town (1921); L. Wagner, A New Book About London (1921): Margaret E. Tabor, The City Churches (1917); Thomas Burke, Nights in Town (1915); Limehouse Nights (1917); and The Outer Circle (1921).
- (J. F. M.)
- The retardation of growth in ratable value was largely due to the reduction of assessment of licensed premises in 1910.