1900 To 1939
The dawning of the 20th century saw London at the height of its power. The capital of the largest empire in history was also the capital of a global financial system and towered over a large, confident nation. The city also attracted immigrants from all over the world making it one of the greatest cities on Earth. But trouble was to brew for London during the first half of the 20th century as World War I and II would take their toll on the city.
Britain's rise to world power, its triumph in the Crimean War, and its increasing wealth during the Victorian era had made it a key player in European politics, My City of London (mycityoflondon.co.uk). Britain found itself in the unexpected position of having to support the French against Russia and Germany in two major wars, and was often at war with one or more Continental powers. Thanks to a newly integrated transport system and improved communications, London was well placed to support its role as a major international financial centre.
However, this position was undermined by a series of foreign-policy failures and the growing economic strength of the United States. Looked at from the perspective of 1939, the previous decades seem very distant. The Victorian certainties of the 1850s had given way to the gaslit world of the 1890s. The Edwardian era is better known for its famous names than for any detailed examination of its events. Britain's influence was already in decline, and the balance of power throughout the world was about to change as large sections of the British public demanded more self-government, while new independent nations in India and elsewhere emerged.
The interwar period saw increasing demands for self-government in London and in other parts of Britain, and this was to lead to the final break up of the empire. In 1914, World War I began, and for most of the next four years London was either being shelled by hostile powers or occupied by them. The Great War of 1914–1918 saw millions of military personnel pass through London and turned the city into a capital of recovery; as well as injury, mass unemployment resulted from the war which reached its peak in 1919.
In 1926 a general strike was held to protest against government imposed wage-cuts and ended only after nine days when it became obvious that it had totally failed. London's position as the commercial and imperial capital of Britain was increasingly challenged by other centres throughout Britain and Ireland. The rise of ports such as Bristol, Liverpool and Belfast reduced London's primacy in Irish trade, while the loss of the American colonies (in 1783) removed the important trans-Atlantic market for British goods.
By the 1830s, Manchester had emerged as the largest cotton-manufacturing centre in the world, and surpassed Liverpool as the second city of the Empire after London. This was due in part to a major route between Lancashire and Yorkshire which bypassed London. London's population grew rapidly throughout the 19th century, and was briefly overtaken by Birmingham in the years immediately before the First World War. Although the London County Council had been created in 1889, taking over local government responsibilities from the Metropolitan Board of Works, the city experienced rapid growth in the early 20th century.
This included slum clearances and the widening of streets, leading to a complaint that Charing Cross Road had become so broad that vehicles could cross it in two laps. London had never really had a metropolitan government. Until the 19th century its local government institutions were few and not very influential. Various attempts since the 14th century to form wide-ranging governing bodies for the city had all foundered until the Great Reform Act of 1832 established a modern police force, and gave cities the opportunity to form municipal boroughs with their own town halls, boards, and public baths.
Between 1914 and 1918, the City was attacked by German Zeppelins and an Irish Republican Army (IRA) bomb injured 182. London faced huge numbers of casualties from the First World War. Before the war, city-dwellers had numbered four million but a third of this number were killed. The British military headquarters at Horse Guards. The Edwardian era was a time of great social, artistic, and technological change. It saw the rise of socialism, feminism, and of extreme.
The Roman Empire under the emperor Claudius (AD 41-54) expanded steadily northwards from central asia minor and rome occupied britain 43 ce . London is one of the only cities in England that has never been taken by an invading force and there have been two attempts to conquer Britain in the past: The assegais of the Zulus managed to get to a point just south of London before they were defeated; and the French under Napoleon, whose failure to capture the city was among his first notable failures.
The London of the 1st century was a small walled town located on the north bank of the Thames. The City grew rapidly and it was soon home to 80,000 people packed inside the city walls. After a brief spell of Roman occupation between around AD 200-300, London returned to being a self-governing Celtic city that flourished under Roman law and endured throughout the Early Middle Ages. The earliest remains of human activity in the London area date from the Neolithic period.
Early humans camped in the Thames valley, and used the river for its fish, from which the city's Latin name was derived (Londinium originally being abbreviated as Londinnium). Nicknames for London include The Big Smoke, and The Capital. The construction of the London Wall, probably began around AD 154 under Emperor Antoninus Pius or his successor, built to protect the city from raids by the British Celts and coincided with the building of a Saxon Shore Fort a little further downstream that was erected to protect shipping from raids by sea.
In World War Ii
Only 20 months after war broke out in 1939, the first bombs fell on London. For 57 consecutive nights bombs were dropped on the capital of the United Kingdom. Bombs exploded day and night, destroying homes, schools and hospitals. The population was not allowed to leave London during the Blitz because it was much needed for work in factories. As the air raids got worse, many people stayed in tube stations for protection, often 50,000 at a time.
Many iconic structures were destroyed, and some—like St Paul's Cathedral—were restored and then destroyed again during the Blitz. The East End also suffered damage from bombing and incendiary devices, which created disastrous fires which razed whole streets. In the first two years of the war 40,000 people were killed in London from air raids. In some cases, entire families took to the station shelters. Schools across London opened their buildings after hours, allowing workers and children to seek shelter during air raids.
Some people carried paper gas-masks, but these were dangerous as the filter could be easily clogged by London's sooty air, which was full of particles. On September 7, 1940, the Luftwaffe launched several air raids on London. The most devastating was a firestorm, started by incendiary bombs in the Docklands area and then carried north by the wind. The first hit on the city killed six people and injured 30 at St Luke's Hospital.
The Steelyard was situated on the bank of the River Thames in Broad Street Ward, in a street that was named after it (Steelyard Gate, later altered to Steelyard Street and ultimately to Cannon Street). The word “stall” comes from the German word for “place"; thus both the street and the trading base are described by the same name. The Hanseatic kontor at London worked principally with textiles, but also dealt in iron and steel, and perhaps hardware, timber, wines, animal hides and furs.
It served as a warehouse for importers of wine. The most famous Steelyard was undoubtedly the one in London, which traded in German and Baltic goods in the 15th century. The first and second Steelyards were set up in the 1420s as two large, but separate complexes on either side of the River Thames. It was only after being united in 1455 that they took on a more united purpose than simple trading. The buildings themselves were made as grand as possible for practical reasons – to impress people and, more to the point, to keep thieves at bay.
The Great Fire of London occurred in 1666, destroying 80% 90% of the city. The fire started at Thomas Farriner's bakery on Pudding Lane, spread to London Bridge and from there to the City. Hence, 'Pudding Lane'was where it all began. It lasted for four days and destroyed over 50,000 houses, eight ten thousand houses had wood paneling (floors were of clay), so that it all went up in flames in no time.
The Hanseatic League used the Steelyard as a hanse (trading post) to negotiate with the English merchants. The League opened its own warehouse in London in 1875. It was located near Tower Hill, first in Thickbroom Lane, then from 1621 on, in what is now Steelyard Passage. The building was named Stahlhof, or Steel Yard, after the Hanseatic League. In 1874, the German Empire obtained control over the city and upgraded it to a city with state-council (German: Landesratstadt).
Roman London (Ad 47 Ad 410)
The city established itself quickly over the following decades as a major trading port and integrated within twenty years a large portion of the island into the growing Roman Empire. London's strategic position among the Belgic tribes of ancient Britain, and its proximity to the Continent, facilitated the emergence of London as a center for commerce. The city was fully part of the Roman Empire by AD 61, when its political and commercial importance were noted by Julius Agricola, who was later to be governor of Britannia (AD 77–83).
Londinium had been declared a municipium under the emperors Claudius (r. 41-54) and Nero (r. 54-68); it was then re-established as a colony by Had. Londinium rose to commercial prominence in the early years of the Empire, and Emperor Claudius granted it the status of a colony for veterans of the 47th Legion around AD 60. A defensive wall was completed around the city in AD 70, replacing the earlier earthwork defences, enclosing an area of approximately 400 acres (1.
6 km2) and extending about 2 miles (3. 2 km) from east to west. It was protected by a ditch on the northern side, backed by the so-called London Wall a stone barrier surmounted by a wooden palisade. Pompey had made use of the Stane Street which ran from Chichester in the north to Silchester in the south. The main Roman London Road remained a minor track, using direct routes through places such as Kensington, Bayswater and Paddington.
These routes continued to be used by travellers even when they were superseded by the major roads constructed in later years. At its height, Londinium was the wealthiest city in Britain. The exact date of when Londinium was founded is unknown, but an ancient story goes that the Romans landed on the site during the reign of Emperor Claudius (AD 41–54) and established a settlement. Modern archaeological excavations discovered Roman settlements in the vicinity, but these were built on top of earlier abandoned and destroyed structures.
There has been no major re-occupation of the site by the Romans. The first British record of the city being described as "London" instead of just "London town" is from 1880. London entered the 20th Century as the capital of the largest empire in history. It faced serious threats during the two World Wars and the Great Depression, and this made London's population drop from 8 million down to 6 million.
Tudor London (14851603)
The big trading companies, such as the Dutch Company and the French Company of Merchant Adventurers (Compagnie franaise des marchands-adventurers), were formed by merchant adventurers with "royal letters patent to trade in all parts of the world". The most famous of these merchants was Sir John Hawkins, who with his son Sir Richard Hawkins laid the foundation of England's dominions in America, and along with Drake and Raleigh conducted many successful expeditions against the Spanish colonies.
Sir Walter Raleigh owned a slave ship but he was also an author, poet and explorer. The Hanseatic League also set up smaller branches in other major ports across England, Germany and the Baltic Sea. In London, one of the Steelyard's warehouses directly abutted the wharf on Thavie's Quay that became the site of the Tower of London. The significance of this particular location was its proximity to the New Cannon Stairs entrance to the Tower complex, which allowed Hansa merchants direct access to a (normally) peaceful meeting point with merchants importing goods into London via boat.
The most important structure in the Hanseatic administrational complex was the Steelyard. The yard occupied an area where modern Whitefriars Street meets Little Britain and it was first mentioned by this name in 1370, but existed probably since 1357. It was essentially a huge warehouse or factory with aisles on all sides of a large open yard where goods were stored and manipulated. The Steelyard was situated in Dukes Place, outfall of Thames Street. Originally it had two major jetties, or gangways leading to a boathouse and storage warehouse, for the use of the League merchants.
One major jutte was at ‘Bridgewater House’, now the site of the Cannon Street Hotel; the other was at ‘The Swan’ on Upper Thames Street. The Steelyard was an alley running parallel to the river between Cornhill and Leadenhall Street. Hammersmith is south of the river, but you can still spot it a little north of Leadenhall Street in Cannon Street — the street name is Cannon Street Road. The street is now crossed by Cannon Bridge.