I decided to examine the Waterloo train station referenced in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “Adventure of the Speckled Band.” Still in use today the historic location is recognized a total of three times in the story. The first reference appears when Helen Stoner mentions Waterloo as she talks with Holmes and Watson at the very beginning of the story. Later Holmes and Watson catch trains at the Waterloo station en route to Stoke Moran.
An immediate glance at Google’s modern and 1893 maps reveals changes to neighboring buildings and lots but nearly none to the street layout, other than that not much can be deduced. Fortunately, there are a plethora of websites that offer a deeper look at the rich history of the Waterloo train station. Unfortunately, as I write this post the serves for “Locating London” and “Old Bailey Online” are currently down. This narrows my resources for analysis down to “Historical Eye”, “Charles Booth Online Archive”, and “British Histories”. Of these remaining sources I’ve found only the “Charles Booth Archive” to have worthwhile (or any) information regarding the Waterloo station.
The 1898-99 map in the Charles Booth archive illustrates poverty levels in London at the time.
The key puts the map into perspective
The adjacent blocks to the Waterloo station are shaded primarily pink, red, and purple. This indicates that the area was fairly developed financially at the time, with the common economic states of neighboring residents being classified as purple “Some comfortable others poor”, pink “Fairly comfortable”, and Red “Well-to-do”. (Charles Booth Archive) But even though there is a clear cut majority there are still instances of poverty strewn throughout the area surrounding the station. Mostly these poverty stricken localities are labeled light blue for “Poor” and also dark blue for “Very Poor. Chronic Want” (Charles Booth Archive)
Another thing to notice about Booth’s poverty map is compared to other localities the area around Waterloo station was sparsely occupied by residences.
This area by Kent road has a much greater population density.
From this information one can infer that the Waterloo station was built in an industrial area surrounded by work places.
I also learned that including Waterloo, there were a total of 37 train stations throughout London in 1898. (Charles Booth Archive)
“Booth Poverty Map.” Booth Poverty Map (Charles Booth Online Archive). London School of Economics & Political Science, n.d. Web. 09 Nov. 2014.