Thursday, 6 June 2013

Changing views

Our office, as I may have mentioned before, is on the street that Charles Dickens grew up on. We're at number 106, he was at number 22.

Walking past the other day, I stood outside his front door and took this photo.

I thought, initially that Dickens would have been horrified, seeing the cranes, the lorries, the builders and the noise and dust. They're building a Crossrail station.

But then I recalled that he grew up in this street during one of the biggest phases of population growth London has ever seen.

When he was born, in 1812, London was already the largest city in the world, an unimaginable heaving mass of just over a million people crammed into a decaying, often medieval, housing stock.

By the time he died in 1870, the population was 3.3m, swathes of old rabbit warren housing had been swept away, and the seep into the suburbs had well and truly begun.

So he'd have lived with change, noise, disturbance and an uncomfortable sense of things not being what they were.

Our changes are now digital as much as physical, and the world around us is changing as fast it did for Dickens.

A new landscape is being created.

It's just, when you walk down my road, you can't see it.

ps. This weekend, 9th June, the house got finally a blue plaque. Thanks to Spitalfields Life for running a story on that.

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