Victorian London: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Victorian London.

  • Queen Victoria reigned in Britain from 1837 until 1901, and the time that she reigned is generally known as the Victorian period. For much of that time, Britain had a huge empire stretching around the world.

  • Victorian London was the largest city in the world for much of that time. Its population grew from about 1 million people in 1800, to about 6.7 million in 1900 although many of the city’s residents lived in poverty.
  • Many of London’s most famous buildings and landmarks were built during the 19th century, including Trafalgar Square, the Houses of Parliament, Tower Bridge and Victoria Station.
  • The first lines on the London Underground were constructed in 1863. Today, there are 270 stations, with over 250 miles of track and the system carries over 3 million passengers every day.
  • One of the most famous people in Victorian London was the murderer, Jack the Ripper, who was never identified or caught. Today, a guided walk around Jack the Ripper’s London is one of the most popular tourist attractions.
  • Victorian London was well known for its fog, which was often extremely thick. Because it had a slight green colour to it, the fog was often known as a pea-souper. Apparently, people regularly walked into the River Thames because they couldn’t see where they were going.
  • The Great Exhibition took place in 1851 to showcase science and technology. Among the exhibits were the world’s largest diamond, an early fax machine and a machine that counted votes.
  • Geese were popular for Christmas dinner with Victorian London families. They were taken to the market with tar on their feet to protect them when they walked.

Victorian London

  • Victorian London was often featured in the novels of Charles Dickens, such as Oliver Twist. London’s prisons, such as Newgate Prison and Fleet Prison, were described, as was the Victorian Fog (see above).
  • The Great Stink took place in the summer of 1858. Raw sewage pumped into the River Thames dried in the hot weather and created a horrible and lingering smell in the capital city. This prompted the construction of the London sewerage system in the late 19th century.

What next? Discover more facts about London, learn about Charles Dickens, or visit our Victorians resources page.

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