Here to enrich the understanding and appreciation of London and all its people - past, present, future.
Here to enrich the understanding and appreciation of London and all its people - past, present, future.
Here we have a photo documenting a cleaner mopping the floor of an operating theatre in University College Hospital, Euston Road. It's part of the series 'Waged London' through which Larry Herman, over a period of ten years, sought to document the working lives of some of the millions of people who through their work in healthcare, transport, manufacturing, tourism and in many other jobs, underpin the entire London economy. #FrontlinersFromHistory 📸: Larry Herman, University College Hospital Operating Theatre, Euston Road, from the series Waged London, 2005-2015, © Larry Herman
Did you know that the River Fleet flows today in a sewer beneath London? We’ve gathered some more fascinating sewer facts for you. Might score you some points at your next virtual quiz night! #LoveLondonsRivers
“One of the most poignant, yet heart-warming aspects of the current crisis has been the use of technology and video calls to enable loved ones to chat briefly with those in hospital, whilst visits are not permissible. A humble postcard on display in our People’s City Gallery has reminded me that keeping in touch with friends and family in hospital has always been a key concern for Londoners. The postcard was one in a series produced by the City of London Hospital for Consumption and Chest diseases, partly to raise funds in the pre-NHS era but also for use by patients and friends. This postcard includes the reassuring message 'I have seen A in hospital he will be well looked after it is a lovely place nice gardens.’ The hospital, built in 1848 was located within the grounds of Victoria Park - affectionately referred to as ‘the lung of the East End’. Although the hospital closed in 2015, its long history is a clear reminder that the struggle to keep London’s vast population healthy and free from disease remains one of our most enduring challenges.” - Beverley, Curator
Taken from the series 'Waged London' by Larry Herman. Here we have a documentation of a day in the life of a London Ambulance Paramedic, resting after a shift in Islington. #FrontlinersFromHistory 📸: Larry Herman, London Ambulance Paramedic, Mess Room, Islington, from the series Waged London, 2005-2015, © Larry Herman
"This is a sample of soap nuts, produced c. 1900-1935, and imported through the London docks from the West Indies. When I came across this object in our collections I was fascinated as I had no idea that soap nuts even existed or that they are often used in the manufacturing of soap. I like the idea that such a small object can still surprise and would have played an essential part in the lives on Londoners for centuries both in times of illness and health." - Emily, Media Officer
Nurses and Midwives unite! Did you know that on the 27th of April 1909, an International Woman Suffrage conference took place to represent 'voteless' professions and tradeswomen. As depicted in this image, Nurses and Midwives marched for over half an hour into the Albert Hall to join the Conference delegate. The 'Votes for Women' newspaper even reported that 'From the women doctors in their blazing scarlet hoods, to the pitbrow women in their shawls, every branch of women's work was represented' in the Pageant. #FrontlinersFromHistory 📸: Christina Broom, Nurses and midwives in the Pageant of Women's Trades and Professions, 1909 © Museum of London
Taken in 1980, this gentleman was originally from Barbados and had worked as a bus driver in London for the past five years. #FrontlinersFromHistory 📸: Henry Grant, Bus driver, 1980 © Museum of London
The first fully automatic post sorting machines were not introduced until 1979 and until this date sorting had to be completed by hand, as we see in this photo taken c. 1965 at the Royal Mail Mount Pleasant Sorting Office. Bonus info: In the 1960s and 70s the Mount Pleasant Sorting Office in Clerkenwell was thought to be the largest in the world covering an area of 7.5 acres. #FrontlinersFromHistory 📸 Henry Grant, Employee at work sorting letters at the Royal Mail Mount Pleasant Sorting Office, c. 1965 © Museum of London
Bagnigge Wells was a popular meeting place in St Pancras, especially after the discovery in 1760 of two spas that were good for health and a treatment for disease. The attractions of the spa were soon outweighed by its reputation as a meeting point for couples. This mezzotint shows the gardens (with the fountain in the background ) which became a favourite place for romantic encounters. A party dine under the shadow of a colonnade on the lake as couples walk around the gardens. The river Fleet played an important part in the enjoyment of the visitors, as can be seen by the presence of the lake and the fountains. The springs were thought to be beneficial because of the mineral content in their water; it varied from spring to spring, so sometimes it did help, sometimes it did nothing - and sometimes, when the level of arsenic was high, it was poisonous. - Kate, Curator
Here we see a 1954 Henry Grant image of a nurse on the ward at the Hospital of St. John and St. Elizabeth Hospital. Founded in 1856, 'John and Lizzies' is one of the country's largest independent charity hospitals and the UK's foremost Catholic Hospital. #FrontlinersFromHistory 📸: Henry Grant, A nurse on the ward at the St. John and St. Elizabeth Hospital, 1954 © Museum of London
Introducing Frontliners from History, photographs from our collection highlighting the capital's frontline workers who've kept the lifeblood of the city flowing, just as they do today. First up is this picture from 1975. The first women to work as 'clippies' or bus conductors did so as early 1916 however it was not until the Second World War that they became a regular sight and it was not until 1974 that the first female bus driver was employed by London Underground. #FrontlinersFromHistory 📸: Henry Grant, Bus conductor, 1975 © Museum of London/ Henry Grant
Life has changed in a way almost unimaginable when we created our Disease X exhibition back in 2018. Now we are sharing the stories, objects and words of that exhibition online, to demonstrate what the past can tell us about epidemics and their impact on London, as well as the resilience of Londoners to come through them. Take a visit via the link in our bio.
“This box of sterile disposable hypodermic needles was collected at Dr F Barber’s surgery at 38 Brookfield Park. A small device of great importance, the hypodermic needle was the revolutionary device that enabled doctors to do intravenous injection, crucial for the insertion of vaccines. For example, Louis Pasteur used an older model to immunise his first patient against rabies in 1885. These were first mass produced in the United States to enable the mass vaccination of children with the new polio vaccine in 1954. The disposable sterile hypodermic we see here was developed in the 1960s and is still used today. This last development helped it to become more widespread and cheaper while meeting strict hygiene standards enabling a greater potential to treat and immunise patients in any situation, worldwide.” – Anna, Conservation Student Placement
"The Great Fire of London did one good thing by wiping out the plague, right? Wrong! While it makes for an excellent story, in reality the plague was mostly over by the time the fire hit. Peaking in the summer of 1665, the death toll was in decline from the autumn, and when King Charles II returned to London in 1666 it signified that the city was reasonably safe again. Secondly, as this amazing map from our collection shows, the areas worst hit by the plague (largely outside of the City of London such as Whitechapel, Clerkenwell and Southwark ) were untouched by the Great Fire of 1666. But you can appreciate how two catastrophes happening in such close proximity leads people to a connection. So what does that say about the future of COVID-19 in the history books? What factors will be most remembered in its elimination? What 'fake news' will be remembered through the centuries and be left to future museums to myth bust once again?" - Simone, Audience Lead
“This is a street vendor of cough lozenges and healing ointment, c. 1877. This vendor described to the photographer how he believed his recovery from blindness was due to the ointment he received from a similar street 'doctor'. Thus he, in turn, set up in business with the man. Despite the increasing number of free hospitals where the poor could consult qualified doctors, many continued to opt for solutions to their ailments from such 'quacks' both to retain independence and because of a lack of time. This is from a series of 37 photographs published in the book, 'Street Life in London' (1877 ), with text written by John Thomson and the journalist Adolphe Smith.” – Rosalie, Project Manager
This thin sheet of lead was rolled up and worn as a charm to protect the wearer, Demetrios, from dying in a pandemic that ravaged much of the Roman Empire in the 160s and 170s CE. The text, which was scratched in Greek, contains the words of a prayer: “Send away the discordant clatter of raging plague, air-borne … infiltrating pain, heavy-spiriting, flesh-wasting, melting, from the hollows of the veins. Great Iao, great Sabaoth, protect the bearer. Phoebus of the unshorn hair, archer, drive away the cloud of plague. Iao, God Abrasax, bring help … Lord God, watch over Demetrios.” Read more about its history via the link in our bio.
"I rather like this humble soap ticket. I can imagine the roll of perforated tickets, each one being torn off and handed over to the people of Stepney coming to use the public bathing facilities. I am not sure how it has survived; was the bar of soap not picked up or did the person at the bathhouse forget to take in the ticket? The council were trying to instil new habits in the population to prevent the spread of disease. Just like the campaigns to encourage better hand washing routines that we see today 100 years later. How lucky we are to have our own baths, showers and washing machines! When I lived in Germany in the early 1990s the paper conservation studio where I worked had a toilet on the "halbe treppe" which was down the stairwell from the flat. And later in Paris, I lived in a flat which had a shared toilet on the landing and no shower. The flat would have been an old "chambre de bonne" where the maids lived. Those were the days, using the local swimming baths to get a good shower before swimming a few lengths each morning. This inconvenience produced a habit of exercise which in itself was disease preventing." - Rose, Paper Conservator
“This is the cover of a song sheet for 'The lamentation of Old Father Thames’. The illustration depicts Old Father Thames arising from the polluted River Thames with a towering St Paul’s Cathedral in the background. He appears disgruntled and says 'Here's a mess I am in'. Here, we have an environmental message like the ones we see everyday on the news. The song was often sung at public dinners, which seems ludicrous to me; who would want to hear about the horrors of the putrefied River Thames over dinner?! By the 1850s, the Thames was overflowing with waste from the slaughter-houses, tanneries and factories, which lined its banks and was essentially an open sewer. This dire situation resulted in the Great Stink of 1858. An oppressive heat wave hit London and, as a result, the sewage in the Thames began to ferment. The smell emanating from the Thames was so offensive and disgusting that it instilled fear into the entire population and finally sparked the government into action. And so was born Joseph Bazalgette’s colossal sewage system which still exists today… but that’s another story…” - Marina, Learning Coordinator
The bombings during the Blitz devastated large parts of London but the rebuilding of the city presented archaeologists with an opportunity to investigate the ancient remains in the capital. Read more about how their discoveries via the link in our bio.
"This small and unassuming object is a sampler, embroidered and darned by Hannah Grimes when she was a student at Ackworth School in Yorkshire; a Quaker boarding school for children whose parents were not wealthy. The girls were taught sewing, knitting and darning, to prepare them for their future married lives or provide them with skills through which they could one day make a living. It is unusual to know more than the most basic facts about the women whose names are preserved in their needlework. With Hannah we know only the rough dates of her birth and death, her faith, and of course her skill with a needle. But for me this sampler represents the many unknown women and girls for whom sewing was an inevitable part of life; something for which they would rarely have been recognised, celebrated or thanked. Throughout history, sewing has variously been a joy, a burden, a comfort, a necessity, a livelihood and a lifeline for countless women. This sampler reminds us of the skill and stories that lie behind that often anonymised women’s labour." - Lucie, curator #WomensHistoryWonder
"The damage to the Docks was devastating and many lives were lost north and south of the river in what quickly became known as Black Saturday." Watch 'Black Saturday', narrated by Zoe Wanamaker and featuring footage from the Port of London Authority Collection from our #MuseumofLondonDocklands galleries, as we open up our collections to commemorate #VEDayFromHome
During World War II, the dockyards and riverside factories in the East End of London played a significant role in the war. However, these industrial capabilities meant it also bore the brunt of enemy attack with over 25,000 German bombs falling on the Docklands over the course of the war. Take a look at these photographs from the Port of London Authority Collection as we commemorate #VEDayFromHome this weekend.
Listen to some intimate oral histories from Londoners during World War II. With the doors to our museums physically closed, we are offering some exclusive World War II content from our galleries and collections for you to honour VE day from home. Take a look: hhttps://bit.ly/35FuH4Y