The Descriptive Album of London

I happened to be at an auction in 2011 at which five bound volumes of photographs were for sale, dating from the 1890s. I bought them.

One of them was—

The author was George H. Birch (1842 to 1904). It was originally published in monthly parts, and then as a bound volume in perhaps 1894. It has two pictures of Tower Bridge which was opened in July 1894, so cannot be earlier than that. Neither the date nor the author are mentioned. George Birch was the director of the Soane Museum from 1894 until his death in 1904.

The book is 336mm wide and 270mm high which is quite large (a bit under A3). Mine is in green board covers, but a variety of designs were used. You can read Birch's Introduction here.

The important thing about this book is that on each page there is a large, clear black and white photograph of somewhere in London, together with a short textual description. The photos are reproduced using the usual halftoning technique but, because of their size, considerable detail can still be seen.

You can see the order in which the photos occur in the book here, but it seems more useful to list them below alphabetically. I am gradually digitising them, and those that have links you can click on to see the relevant page.

  1. Admiralty Office
  2. Albert Memorial
  3. Albert Pall
  4. Army and Navy Club
  5. Athenæum Club
  6. Bank of England
  7. Battersea Park
  8. Blackfriars Bridge
  9. British Museum
  10. Brompton Oratory
  11. Buckingham Palace
  12. Burlington House
  13. Carlton Club
  14. Chapel Royal, Savoy
  15. Charing Cross Gardens
  16. Cheapside
  17. Chelsea Hospital
  18. Cheyne Walk
  19. Christ's Hospital
  20. City of London School
  21. City Temple
  22. Coaching Meet
  23. Colonial Office
  24. Conservative Club
  25. Covent Garden Market
  26. Crystal Palace
  27. Custom House
  28. Drapers' Hall
  29. Duke of Wellington's Statue
  30. Finsbury Park
  31. Fleet Street
  32. Foreign Office
  33. Fountain Court, Temple
  34. Goldsmiths' Hall
  35. Greenwich Hospital
  36. Guy's Hospital
  37. Hampstead Heath
  38. Holborn Circus and Viaduct
  39. Hon. Artillery Company's Barracks
  40. Horse Guards
  41. Houses of Parliament
  42. Hyde Park Corner
  43. Imperial Institute
  44. Kensington Gardens
  45. Kensington Palace
  46. Lambeth Palace
  47. Leicester Square
  48. Liverpool Street Station
  49. London Bridge
  50. London Hospital
  51. Mansion House
  52. Marble Arch
  53. Metropolitan Meat Market
  54. National Gallery
  55. National Liberal Club
  56. Natural History Museum
  57. Newgate Prison
  58. Northumberland Avenue
  59. Old Roman Wall
  60. Oxford Circus
  61. People's Palace
  62. Piccadilly Circus
  63. Post Office
  64. Queen's Hall
  65. Record Office
  66. Reform Club
  67. Regent Street
  68. Regent's Park
  69. Rotten Row
  70. Royal Courts of Justice
  71. Royal Exchange
  72. Royal Observatory, Greenwich
  73. Serpentine
  74. Soane Museum
  75. Somerset House
  76. South Kensington Museum
  77. St. Bartholomew's Hospital
  78. St. James's Palace
  79. St. James's Park
  80. St. John's Gate
  81. St. Paul's Cathedral
  82. St. Thomas's Hospital
  83. Staple Inn
  84. Statue of Lord Beaconsfield
  85. Statue of Queen, Kensington Gdns
  86. Strand
  87. Temple Church
  88. The Cattle Market
  89. The Guildhall
  90. The Mint
  91. The Monument
  92. Tower Bridge
  93. Tower Bridge, looking East
  94. Tower of London
  95. Trafalgar Square
  96. Trinity House
  97. United Service Club
  98. United Service Institute
  99. University College
  100. Victoria Embankment
  101. War Office
  102. Waterloo Bridge
  103. Waterloo Place
  104. West India Docks
  105. Westminster Abbey
  106. Westminster Bridge
  107. Wine Vaults, London Docks
  108. Zoological Gardens

You can contact me using the email address below (which you won't see unless you have Javascript enabled)

Peter Facey, Winchester, England
20170113 updated 20110130 originated