Wonderful Old London Memoir

From Memoirs Of William Henry Knapp at the Spitalfields Life blog, a trove of London history:

My first working years were very interesting as well as being hard-working and, as a man today beyond the sixty mark, I can think of the romance attached to my first job necessitating my calling at some of the most important buildings, firms and institutions in the City. Some are demolished or out of date but just a few remain and I can recount from memory a few of the places and firms.
My old firm was on Ludgate Hill, next St Martin’s Court, which is bordered on one side by the well known City Stationers, W. Straker. While I have him in mind, I must tell you that his first start in life was sitting in a small window in the left hand corner of St Paul’s Church and printing visiting cards at so much per hundred while you wait. In his case, one can quote the old adage, ‘nothing succeeds like success.’ What a character he was, good features, curly grey hair, immaculately dressed. If he ever wore a hat, it was of the sombrero type worn at a rakish angle, with a silk coat, plush waistcoat and very pronounced black and white check trousers. In his spare time, on bright days, he would parade the pavement near or about his premises and people naturally asked, ‘Who’s that?’ He was a city character once seen could never be forgotten.
At the extreme end of St Martin’s Court stood what we boys called the old London Wall – a mass about forty feet by ten and possibly the position of the ancient Lud Gate, one of the many gates protecting the City. I well remember with the tools of those days it took considerable time to demolish it.

6 thoughts on “Wonderful Old London Memoir”

  1. Beautiful and evocative writing that puts me in mind of Arthur Conan Doyle.

    View these Victorian images of Ludgate Hill: http://www.victorianlondon.org/districts/ludgatehill.htm



    The building that housed the King Lud is still there. https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/23/37546002_9b3e1c3559_z.jpg?zz=1

    The steeple you see in front of St Paul’s dome is St. Martin’s Ludgate, one of the many churches designed by Christopher Wren to replace those lost after the Great Fire of London.

  2. So the kid could schlep nearly eighty pounds … jeeze, if he didn’t start by being build like Charles Atlas, he probably was, by the time he moved into management.

  3. A hundredweight, not to be confused with a hogshead. Great descriptive account, “when the black flag went up” etc. History matters.

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