Steampunk setting: Victorian London
What was London like during the Victorian era? I imagine it to be sprawling, heaving with humanity, glittering with fabulous riches, and also dirty, overcrowded, and downright stinky. Victorian London was the biggest city in the world, with a population in excess of 4 million by 1880. Streets teeming with traffic quickly became filled with horse poo. Chimneys from factories and homes belched out black smoke. Raw sewage ran down gutters and into the rivers. Pickpockets and scavengers roamed the streets looking for an easy mark.
Until the second half of the 19th century London residents drew their drinking water from the same stretch of the Thames where open sewers discharged their waste. Makes me shudder to think about it! No wonder they preferred drinking ale or small beer. The Great Stink of 1858 finally mobilised the authorities to do something about the antiquated sewage system.
When researching Victorian London, one of my favourite internet sites to visit is David Perdue. He has an interactive map of Charles Dickens’ London, which shows you all the major landmarks of the city and also where they are referenced in Dickens’ novels. If you’re a fan of Dickens’ work or just interested in Victorian London it’s well worth a visit.