Tuesday, February 18, 2014

London's Docks by Suzi Love

London's Docks by Suzi Love

London Docks is one of the most fascinating places of historical interest to visit in London. Though most of the docklands have been redeveloped, centuries of history cannot be forgotten.

English: A birdseye view of London Docks publi...
English: A birdseye view of London Docks published in the Illustrated London News in 1845. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: A plan of London Docks by Henry Palme...
English: A plan of London Docks by Henry Palmer, 1831. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The London Docks were one of several sets of docks in the historic Port of London. 
They were constructed in Wapping downstream from the City of London between 1799 and 1815, at a cost exceeding £5½ million. Traditionally ships had docked at wharves on the River Thames, but by this time, more capacity was needed.

Customs on Docks 1820's via Wikipedia

They were the closest docks to the City of London, until St Katharine Docks were built two decades later. At the London Dock in the 1820s, the Customs employed around 250 men and the Excise around 200.
The London Docks occupied a total area of about 30 acres (120,000 m²), consisting of Western and Eastern docks linked by the short Tobacco Dock.
English: Print by unknown artist depicting ent...
Print by unknown artist depicting entrance of the Elizabeth, the first ship to enter the St Katharine Docks on the day of their opening, 25 October 1828 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Western Dock was connected to the Thames by Hermitage Basin to the south west and Wapping Basin to the south. The Eastern Dock connected to the Thames via the Shadwell Basin to the east. The principal designers were the architects and engineers Daniel Asher Alexander and John Rennie.

In 1852, the reverend Thomas Beames wrote of the area around the docks:
“Go there by day and every fourth man you meet is a sailor… Public houses abound in these localities… fitted up with everything which can draw sailors together… in a third class of house were professional thieves … they were evidently preying upon the drunken sailors whose ill luck had led them to places where they were little acquainted.”

English: The front of the Custom Office, Londo...
The front of the Custom Office, London Dock, designed by Daniel Asher Alexander and in use 1811-43.            
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The docks specialised in high-value luxury commodities such as ivory, spices, coffee and cocoa as well as wine and wool, for which elegant warehouses and wine cellars were constructed. 

In 1864 they were amalgamated with St Katharine Docks. The system was never connected to the railway network. Together with the rest of the enclosed docks, the London Docks were taken over by the Port of London Authority in 1909.

The docks were finally closed to shipping in 1969 and sold to the borough of Tower Hamlets, which filled in the western portion of the London Docks with the (unrealised) intention of turning them into public housing estates. The land was still largely derelict when it was acquired in 1981 by the London Docklands Development Corporation (LDDC).

Warehouses No. 1 and No. 2, are all that survive of the original nine Georgian warehouses erected on the North Quay of West India Quay by the West India Dock Company to store sugar, rum and coffee  the produce of the slave plantations of the Caribbean. The other warehouses were destroyed during the Second World War in September 1940.

Do you want to experience the bustle and hustle of Victorian Wapping? 
Visit the amazing museum on the Docklands.

Museum of London Docklands, No.1 Warehouse, West India Quay

English: St Katharine Docks. St Katharine Dock...
St Katharine Docks are on the north side of the river Thames just east (downstream) of the Tower of London and Tower Bridge  in the area now known as the Docklands, and are a popular housing and leisure complex.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: London Docks - unloading port wine fr...
London Docks - unloading port wine from Oporto, circa 1909 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Embracing Scandal by Suzi Love is the first in my Scandalous Siblings Series and highlights share trading in London.  Goods are shipped from the Jamison family's factories from these London Docks. 

Where to Buy Embracing Scandal 

 Amazon USA- Amazon AustraliaAmazon UK
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Monday, February 10, 2014

"She Soldiers" - Women who Followed the Drum

Women have always followed armies and their lives and stories are inextricably woven with those of the men.  For the whores, it provided a guaranteed source of clientele and until Florence Nightingale and the establishment of professional medical and nursing corps, the wives and mistresses of soldiers and officers followed the drums and between bringing up their children, performed the duties of laundry maid and nurse.  

But there were some, who donned breeches and joined the fight...

Why did they do it? For some it became an economic necessity, a way of ensuring a semi-regular form of income and even a pension for their families should they be killed rather than remain at home in poverty to become a charge on the parish and eke out their lives in a workhouse.  Then there were those who were simply following their heart either accompanying or searching for their husbands or lovers. There were, of course, those like a certain Joan of Arc who had a higher purpose!

Perhaps one the best recorded "she soldiers" is Mrs. Christian Davies, known as Kit Cavanagh  or Mother Ross. She was the subject of a biography by Daniel Defoe The Life and Adventures of Mrs. Christian Davies, commonly called Mother Ross…Taken from her own mouth when a Pensioner of Chelsea Hospital” 

Kit Cavanagh aka Mother Ross
Born in Ireland 1667, Kit was, by her own account, something of a tomboy.  However she married Richard Walsh and the two ran a pub together until, in 1691, Richard suddenly disappeared, apparently by force or choice, into the army. Kit left her pub and her children, disguised herself as a man by cutting her hair, wearing her husband’s clothes and padding her Waistcoat “to preserve my Breasts from hurt” and joined the English Army. There she served as an infantryman and fought at the battle of Landen. 

Despite being wounded and captured by the French, she maintained her disguise and was exchanged without either side knowing her true gender. Following a duel (over a woman!) in which she killed her protagonist, “Mr. Welsh” was discharged from the Army but promptly re-enlisted as a dragoon and continued a sterling military career. Despite being wounded and having a prostitute claim that “he” was the father of her child, her gender went undetected.  Her guile at concealing her disguise, even extended to a novel way of urinating standing up! 

After thirteen years she finally found her husband – with another woman! He agreed to keep her secret and she went back to soldiering.  At the battle of Ramillies in 1706 she was wounded again and this time her sex was discovered. So highly was she regarded that the Army continued to pay her and she took on the role as a “sutler”.  After the death of her husband (she spent two days turning over the bodies of the fallen at the battle of Malplaquet in order to bury him) she married two more times and saw out her life as a Chelsea Pensioner. She was buried with full military honours.

The English Civil war was no exception.  Women played an enormous role in the defence of their homes and their towns and in the ranks of both royalist and roundhead there are cases of women standing shoulder to shoulder with men in the ranks. Unfortunately actual details of these women is hard to come by and one has to rely on contemporary ballads such as “The Gallant She –Souldier” of 1655 or “The Valiant Vergin” to gain some insight into the lives of these women. Disguise in the bulky clothes of the period would not have been hard and the sanitary conditions of the day would not have invited much speculation about the sex of their fellow soldier.

Some of the recorded cases of these “she soldiers” include a newspaper report of July 1642 (before the real fighting of the war began) of a young girl disguising herself to be near her lover and in November 1645 Major-General Poyntz of the New Model Army reports capturing a female corporal among the royalist prisoners. One of the best records concerns Anne Dymocke, who came from yeoman stock in Lincolnshire. In 1655, she disguised herself as a man in order to remain with her lover, John Evison. The match had been disallowed by her family so they ran off together and she and John posed as brothers for the next 2 years, travelling the countryside. Following John’s death in 1657, she enlisted as a soldier in the Army using John’s name and her disguise was only uncovered in Ayr in Scotland. Contemporary reports have only the highest regard for her “modesty”.

I suppose I feel some affinity with these gallant warrior women as I served in the military forces for nearly twenty years, admittedly in a peace time army and a reserve capacity.  It could not have been an easy life for them, but in some ways, compared to the hardships they faced if they remained at hearth and home, at least dressed as men, they were independent mistresses of their own destiny.

Have you met Deliverance Felton yet? Deliverance is the heroine of my latest release "CLAIMING THE REBEL'S HEART" and is a determined young woman, not above wearing breeches and joining her men on the battlements. She was great fun to write!

(Note:  This post by Alison Stuart originally appeared on Hoydens and Firebrands)