London Street Views 1840 London Street Views 1840

About the guides

What was in each guide?

Tallis's London Street Views were published in 88 parts. Each part consisted of a coloured wrapper, four pages of adverts and text, and a central double page engraved elevation of a street “the whole forming a complete stranger's guide through London”.

Each street elevation was sandwiched between either a map of the area and a featured building, or between two buildings. A street directory was printed on the inside of the covering wrapper, and within the four pages of adverts was a central section giving historical information about the street.

Each part, “intended to assist strangers visiting the metropolis, through all its mazes without a guide”, was advertised on the title cover as being available for the bargain price of three half-pence from “all Booksellers and Toy shops, in England, Wales, Ireland, and Scotland”.

Updated 'monthly'

The title page of the street views states that each number is “elegantly engraved on steel, with a commercial directory corrected every month”. By comparing issues of the same number, various errors and other changes, e.g. in advertisers, shows that the views were updated, and E. Beresford Chancellor recorded up to seven different issues of one part.

Dates published

The 88 published parts cover 74 streets, with some longer streets, such as Oxford Street, being illustrated over more than one part or ‘division’. No issue was dated but research suggests that publication began in 1838 and ended in 1840, with 18 revised and enlarged views being published in 1847. Clues to dating include the known changes of address of the publisher, and occasional dating references within the issues. For example, an advertisement for the National Cognac Brandy Distillery Company in No. 13 includes testimonials dated May 1838, and an advert for Colnaghi and Puckle in No. 84 has a date of March 1840.

City in flux

As today, London in the early Victorian period was in a state of flux, with buildings being pulled down and spaces redeveloped. For example, No. 80 includes the “ruins of the House of Commons”, and No. 74 (Fenchurch Street) has a space where “two houses [are] being pulled down”. Where later features, post 1840 in date, are shown, such as the Royal Exchange, Trafalgar Square and Nelson's Column, it is thought that these were illustrated on the street views from existing plans.

The Publisher - John Tallis

The street views were published in London by John Tallis (1817-1876). His father, also named John, died in 1842 but it is thought that John (junior) had taken over the running of the business after moving down to London from Birmingham in 1838. As a ‘stranger’ himself to London, it is thought that the younger John was responsible for the publication of the street views. They were a successful commercial venture, with businesses being charged to advertise in each issue and also to have their name engraved above their premises on the street elevations.

Missing Guide

The Museum of London houses 87 of the 88 parts of Tallis's London Street Views, many in duplicate but some only in the form of the street elevation and not the surrounding adverts, directory and other information. We are missing No. 88 Moorgate and hope one day to be able to complete the set.

Further reading

Peter Jackson John Tallis's London street views 1838-1840, London Topographical Society Publication no. 160, 2002 (2nd edition), ISBN 0902087479.

E. Beresford Chancellor Tallis's street views of London, London Topographical Record vol. XII, 1920, pp 67-77.