Saturday, 28 April 2018

"down an inviting green lane [that] leads to Eltham, a pleasant walk of hardly two miles" in the company of Bradshaw's guide of 1862

Now I never tire of guide books and so here we are with Bradshaw’s Illustrated Handbook to London and its Environs which was published in 1862 and includes a walk to Eltham.*

South of Woolwich from Bradshaw's Inland Navigation, 1830
Many people will be familiar with his railway timetables which he began issuing from 1839 just nine years after the first passenger railway began transporting people and goods from Liverpool to Manchester.

Few however know that he also produced three maps of The Inland Navigation of England and Wales which detailed the canal network and are still a wonderful source of information.

He was born in 1801 in Pendleton and was apprenticed to an engraver.  In 1821 he set up an engraving business in Manchester and produced a series of popular maps of Lancashire and Yorkshire.

But with the coming of the railways George Bradshaw saw an opportunity not to be missed.  The network had grown with a speed and the original 30 or so miles of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway in 1830 had become over 8,000 miles just 25 years later connecting most of our cities and towns.

Mr Bradshaw died in 1852 but the company continued and with an eye to the moment produced the Illustrated Handbook to London and its Environs to coincide with the second Great International Exhibition.

The book is divided into five parts, which are then further divided into a series of daily walking routes including detailed descriptions of what you might see along the way.

So for the curious 21st century reader here are descriptions on how to cross London by foot, train and boat as well as what the city and surrounding areas had to offer in 1862.

And I couldn’t resist following his adventure out from Blackheath to Shooter’s Hill and on “down an inviting green lane [that] leads to Eltham, a pleasant walk of hardly two miles.”

So here we are on his guided walk along the old Dover Road crossing the Heath, on Shooters Hill taking in ‘a rustic little hostelry on our left distinguished by the peculiar title of the ‘Sun-in-the-Sand’which was the haunt of quite a few 19th century writers who took advantage of an open balcony from which a pleasant view may be obtained of the surrounding country."

And from there we are directed up to Shooters Hill and told that it "commands an expansive prospect [from which] 'the mighty mass of brick smoke and shipping’ as Byron calls the view of London from this point, is well contrasted with the foliage of the wooded country extending towards the south beyond the vale of Eltham.”
Sevendroog Castle, 1909
And this is a fitting point to pause on the adventure which I will return to tomorrow and instead announce that the restored Sevendroog Castle’s opening day is scheduled to be on the Spring Bank Holiday at the end of May.

Illustrated Handbook to London and its Environs, is available on Kindle and in hard copy from Conway Publishers.  Now I should know, I downloaded my electronic copy yesterday and ordered up a hard copy today.

Now that shows interest in Mr Bradshaw

Pictures; south of Woolwich from Bradshaw’s  Inland Navigation of England and Wales, 1830, courtesy of Digital Archives Association, and Sevendroog Castle from The story of Royal Eltham,  R.R.C. Gregory, 1909 and published on The story of Royal Eltham, by Roy Ayers,,

* Bradshaw’s Illustrated Handbook to London and its Environs, 1861, republished in 2012 by Conway

**The City, the East, the West, the North, the South

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