Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Big Walk Wednesday: Following Bob Cratchit from Cornhill to Camden @savechildrenuk

DC Editor Adam writes…


As regular Daily Constitutional readers and some London Walkers will know, on my days off I like to stride out and walk London. I'm a big fan of the Capital Ring orbital walking route and I love to walk the Thames. Many of the pictures and ideas that end up on this blog are born out of my rambles.


On Wednesdays here on The Daily Constitutional, I'll be sharing some snaps, random observations and the odd bit of trivia picked up along the routes of my wanders.




Last Christmas, in honour of Bob Cratchit, Scrooge's impoverished clerk in A Christmas Carol, I attempted to trace his footsteps on his journey home from Scrooge's Cornhill office to his humble abode in Camden Town.

I started the day by making a sketch on the Northern Line for a cartoon of Bob…





No details of his journey are listed in A Christmas Carol, so here's the route I planned before setting off…



And here's the route I ended up following…






It's probably not as direct a route as that Bob himself would have chosen, but I tailored it to go through my beloved Clerkenwell.

On the way I snapped a few piccies of Bob Cratchit's London Christmas past, present and yet to come. I hope you enjoy them. Happy Christmas!



Christmas Present: Bob would have known the Royal Exchange…


… and the Mansion House (without cranes, buses and vans, of course)…




… here's a more contemporary view




Xmas Yet To Come… 1 Poultry, which replaced the English Gothic splendour of the old Mappin & Webb building. 



Mappin & Webb had yet to set up shop at Poultry in 1843 (when A Christmas Carol was published) but was already a going concern having been founded in Sheffield in 1775.





The view from London Wall looking toward Camden Town… slightly (ahem) obscured in 2015


St Paul's – part of Bob's Xmas Present surrounded by the architecture & transport of his Xmas Yet To Come




Xmas past… 18th century headstones in Postman's Park (ask David all about it on his Shakespeare & Dickens walk on Sundays)


Little Britain – and we nod to Great Expectations as we pass




St Bartholomew-the-Great… and their neighbour…









Given Dickens's subject matter, was it a coincidence that I should happen upon the HQ of Save the Children along the route of my Bob Cratchit stroll? Or was it my own version of a Christmas visitation?




For information on how to volunteer and donate to Save The Children, visit their website here: www.savethechildren.org.uk




Onward to Clerkenwell Green…

Past AND Present – a father explains to his daughter what these weird red cupboards are all about on Clerkenwell Green



Spirit of Xmas Past: Do you recognise this place?

Scrooge: Recognise it?! I was apprenticed here!

My own Christmas past… 34 Clerkenwell Close (pictured above) is the first office in which I worked in London. The building is a former ink factory and it was from here that I first explored London on foot, stumbling upon so many Dickens locations in my lunch hour wanders that golden hindsight tells me that every day was a literary fireworks display.

This is where I fell in love with London and I will find any excuse to pass through this most wonderful of London neighbourhoods.

A tree grows in Clerkenwell

Scrooge asks: Are there no workhouses? Are there no prisons? On the right of the shot above stood Clerkenwell Prison – or The House of Detention. Torn down in 1890, the vaults still exist, beneath what was the playground of the Hugh Myddleton School, now flats. In the 1860s, the prison looked like this…


All told it was a walk of some 3.7 miles. So Bob's commute was 7 miles on foot every day.

My route went via…



… and past George Gilbert Scott's St Pancras hotel…



… via the British Library…



This excellent British Library film looks at The Origins of A Christmas Carol


On to Somers Town…  



… and St Mary's Church, a building personally familiar to the young Dickens, who lived at Cranleigh Street…



… in conditions far from affluent. The plaque was unveiled in 2013 by actor Simon Callow. 



And that was my tribute to the heroic Bob Cratchit. Here's the route again…





… and here's another link to Save the Children.



If any of you Daily Constitutionalists & London Walkers end up doing your own version of Bob's walk, do drop me a line at the usual address, send me your pics, or leave a comment below…

Merry Christmas!




This year's London Walks Podcast Christmas Special is on A Christmas Carol. Listen here…







A London Walk costs £10 – £8 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at www.walks.com.



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