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Charles Booth's Poverty Map 1898

Updated: Jun 23, 2020

Charles Booth

Charles Booth was one of those remarkable English Victorians who can justly be described as one of the great and the good. Profoundly concerned by contemporary social problems, and neither a pious nor even a religious man, he recognised the limitations of philanthropy and conditional charity in addressing the poverty which scarred British society. Without any commission other than his own he devised, organised, and funded one of the most comprehensive and scientific social surveys of London life that had then been undertaken.

The Poverty Maps

The Maps Descriptive of London Poverty are perhaps the most distinctive product of Charles Booth's Inquiry into Life and Labour in London (1886-1903). An early example of social cartography, each street is coloured to indicate the income and social class of its inhabitants.

Kelly Street retains it's classification of being 'in the pink'. That means 'Fairly comfortable' ;-)

Police Notebooks

Charles Booth's researchers joined police officers on their London beats to collect the data used to produce the Maps Descriptive of London Poverty, 1898-99.

Excerpt from the Walk with Inspector W. Tomkin, 31 October 1898:

Kelly Street fell into Police District 19, a triangular district bounded by Kentish Town Road, Prince of Wales Road and Chalk Farm Road. Our researcher was called Ernest Aves.

Kelly Street was noted as being "the worst street for immorality in the Division". Oh well, seems like nothing has changed !

Inspector Tomkin seemed to be very cagey when questioned about the brothels at 49 and 51.

"..if I had thought of asking him if there were other houses in the division under observation of which he knew nothing, I suspect that he would have had difficulty in answering."

Evidently our Inspector Tomkin did not leave a great impression on Ernest Aves.

All of the above information was gathered from the brilliant website produced by the LSE (London School of Economics & Political Science). Please click here to visit Charles Booth's London and find out more about life in Victorian London.

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