In 1837 Queen Victoria came to the throne, aged 18. By the time of her death in 1901 London was a very different city. It had grown enormously due to industrial progress, population growth and the network of railways which had brought many parts of England within easy reach of the capital. In the Victorian era London was the centre of world trade and a powerful British empire. Better street lighting, sanitation, roads and transport gradually developed.
Docks and steamer
In the nineteenth century ships delivered goods to London from all over the Empire. Large docks were built to provide a safe place for them to anchor.
Shipbuilding was changed completely by the invention of the steam engine and iron ships. By 1860 London had the largest number of shipyards in the world.
Grand railway stations, such as Paddington, Euston and Cannon Street, were built at the centre of a network of railway lines going to different parts of Britain. They looked impressive to encourage people to travel by train.
Transport and building
Open trucks pulled by a steam engine
The coming of the railways changed London for ever. It meant that people could now commute to work from elsewhere. The first London underground railway is shown above. It opened in 1863 between Paddington and the City.
Much of present day London was built in Victorian times. Some buildings were very grand, such as the Houses of Parliament, rebuilt after a fire in 1834. Others were built for workers, in terraced rows.
In Victorian London the poor were crowded into rotting houses, where they often starved or died of disease. Some of the worst-off were poor children. They were sent out from the age of four or five to make a few pennies by doing things like begging, pickpocketing and chimney sweeping.
Campaigners, such as the author Charles Dickens, shocked the public by writing about these things, and in 1870 a new law was passed which meant that ali children between the ages of 5 and 12 had to go to school.
in Butterfield, Moira ,The Usborne Book of London