Thursday, February 20, 2014

Research paper looking at impact on Victorian London of the Thames embankments now available online

Thanks to the Thames Discovery Project's Twitter update for the information that a new paper by Hanna Steyne is available on the website at Foreshore to Tree Lined Avenue: Investigating the Riverine Lives Impacted by the Construction of the Thames Embankments in Victorian London. It is slightly off-topic for this blog, in that Rotherhithe is not included in the scope of the paper, but for those interested in the development of the London Thames, this is a great read.

Here's the abstract:

Victorian London saw dramatic physical changes along the river Thames. Large enclosed Docks and Thames Embankments were constructed as the city struggled to cope with its ballooning population and prospering shipping industry. Whilst the Thames Embankments have been hailed as engineering triumphs, the fate of those whose livelihood relied on access to the river in central London (such as wharf workers, barge, ferry and lighter men, and others) is unknown. In order to investigate the impact of the Embankment, a methodology has been developed which enables characterisation of a large swathe of urban riverside throughout the mid- to late 19th  century, whilst also ensuring that the stories of individuals and communities are not lost. The approach combines and adapts established methodologies, such as Historic Landscape/Seascape Characterisation and Maritime Cultural Landscapes, to understand the nature and changes in the urban riverside landscape. This methodology forms the back-ground for detailed research on smaller sites, such as a single street, housing block, or industrial site, in order to create ‘Ethnographies of Place’. These small-scale ‘Ethnographies’ have the potential to tell stories about how the social and economic circumstances of individuals and communities changed as a result of the landscape changes associated with the Embankment construction. This paper presents the initial work to establish the methodology and preliminary conclusions based on key sources.

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