Blackfriars Bridge 1896

For today’s blog we’re going time travelling.

In fact, to be precise we’re heading back to Victorian London and paying a visit to Blackfriars Bridge in the year 1896.

That’s eight years after the Jack the Ripper murders had occurred. So, it’s safe to say that many of the people who you see in this film would have lived through – and would have remembered the Whitechapel Murders.


Blackfriars Bridge spans the Thames just a little to the west of St Paul’s Cathedral

This film shows it from the south side of the river looking northwards towards the City of London.

Curiously, Blackfriars Bridge connects to New Bridge Street, which was where the Central News Office was located. That is the agency which received the infamous “Dear Boss” letter in September 1888.



Despite the fact the film is in black and white, and you can’t hear the sounds or – and possibly thankfully(?) – can’t smell the smells, the film really does give you that feeling that you’re there in the thick of it as the cameraman sets up his camera and captures a moment in time that shows London as it was 120 years ago.

I can’t help but wonder what sort of a day those people were having, and what kind of day they went on to have?

Also, I wonder what they made of that strange device that had been set up on the bridge and which was pointing in their direction as they went about their everyday business in Victorian London?


Did it ever cross their minds that, long after they were dead and buried, the Londoners of the future would be looking back on them with a mixture of curiosity and wonderment?

And, what would they have made of the traffic that currently edges over Blackfriars Bridge, often not a lot faster than the speeds being achieved by the horse drawn carriages that are visible in the film?


Of course, today, every person crossing the bridge would have a device in their pocket that is able to record the same type of footage, but which can then, instantaneously, be uploaded to Youtube, or some form of cloud storage.

Will people 120 years from now look back with the same feelings of nostalgia at the millions (probably billions) of London images that have been – and will be – taken and uploaded this year?

Because, it’s a sure fire bet that, 120 years from now, technology will have developed so much that the technology would be as alien to us as a mobile phone would be to those top-hatted Victorian who traipsed across Blackfriars Bridge on that day in 1896.

And, our buses, cars, taxis and bicycles will be as much  a part of London’s history as the horse drawn carriages seen in the film are to us in 2016.

So, yes it’s great to look back; but it’s also great to look forward and think on what the London of the future will be like.