The British Library today released over one million images into the Flickr Commons. Among them, the cover of this book, from 1878. It’s a kind of general guide to the Lewisham-Lee-Blackheath-Eltham area, taking in the shops, streets, churches and notable past residents, and if you live in the area it’s quite fascinating to read of a time when a stroll from Lee to Blackheath would take in gaslit roads lined with “numerous villa residences of both gentry and merchants connected withLondon”.

It also mentions that the tomb of Sir Edmund Halley (d. 1742, he of the comet) can be found in the graveyard of St Margaret’s, Lee – something I never knew, despite passing by hundreds of times – and claims that the Brockley Jack pub (in Crofton Park) used to have Dick Turpin’s name carved in it until the section in question was “pulled down” in 1876.

Who knows if that’s true, but it’s a fascinating read – you can download it as a PDF, here. Also quite remarkable is the ending:

“Have we not the largest fleet in the world? Are not our ships the swiftest and the strongest? Have they not visited every shore ? Have they not re- turned with the produce of every clime? Have not the last 60 years been unrivalled in the history of the world for improvements and discoveries? Has our country not been foremost in the march of intellect? Sixty years ago there was scarcely one town lighted with gas; one river ploughed with steam; one country girded by the iron road; one benevolent institution for the thousand that now exist. Now, almost every village is well-lighted; steamers are now on every sea, every river, and even the Sacred Nile is almost bridged by steam.




Long may Britain be the astonishment and envy of the world. Long may Britain keep the foremost place in inventive ingenuity and manufacturing skill, and amidst tottering dynasties and falling crowns of Europe, may England’s throne stand firm—firm in the centre of the constitution, and no less firm in the hearts of the people.

Shine, mighty God, on Britain shine,

With beams of heavenly grace;

Reveal Thy power through all our Coasts,

And show Thy smiling face.

Amidst our Isle, exalted high,

Do Thou our glory stand,

And like a wall of guardian fire,

Surround this favoured land.”

And then, right after that, come the adverts for umbrellas and boots.