Public stairs on the Thames

Previous page: Decline of the watermen

The following is a list of public stairs in use at the beginning of the eighteenth century, about 1707:

On the London side of the river, going up stream. the following stairs came in order : The Old Swan, Coleharbour, The Steel Yard, Dowgate, Three Cranes, Queenhithe, Trig, Paul's Wharf, Common Stairs, or Puddle Dock, Black Friars, Dorset, White Friars, Temple, Essex, Arundel, Surrey, Strand, Somerset, Savoy, Worcester, Salisbury, Ivybridge, Exchange, York, Black Lion, Hungerford, Whitehall, Privy Garden, Manchester, Westminster Bridge, Parliament, Horse Ferry, Ranelagh, Hospital, Bishop, Old Magpie, Feathers, Old Church, Beaufort.

Going through the bridge, still on the London side : Billingsgate, Sabbs, Custom House, Tower, Irongate, St. Catherine's, Ship, Brew House, Hermitage, Wapping Old, Wapping New, Execution Dock, Wapping Dock, King Edward's, New Crane, King James's, Shadwell, Bell Wharf, Ratcliff Cross, Limehouse, Dick's or Duke's Shore- probably derived from Ducks' shore, from the wild fowl.

Crossing over to the Surrey side above bridge: Pepper Alley, St. Saviour's, Bank End, Horseshoe Alley, New Thames Street, Mold Strand, Falcon, Paris Garden, Marygold, Bull, Old Barge House, Morris's Causeway, Cupid's or Cuper's, King's Arms, Stangate, Lambeth Palace, Horse Ferry, Vauxhall.

Going down through the bridge on the Surrey side were: Tooley, Battle, Bridge, Pickle Herring, Still, Old, New, Savory's Mill,East Lane, Three Mariners, Fountain, Mill, Rotherhithe or Redriff, Cherry Garden, King, Elephant, Church, Swan, Globe, Shepherd and Dock, Pageant, and about nine or ten more until Deptford and Greenwich are reached.

Comparing this list with those marked on John Rocque's map, 1746, and then again with Maitland, 1756, some had disappeared, others renamed.

For the purposes of comparison, let us take the year 1856, when we find on the north bank only thirty-four, and on the south side twenty-five, although, in consequence of the building of the new bridges over the river, and the docks, eleven had been added on the north side, and seven on the south.

Nearly all the new bridges had been built with stairs at both ends, and generally on both sides. Forty-eight stairs had in all disappeared. Many of those then remaining had been converted into steamboat piers. Since the Embankment has been constructed many more have gone, so that the final extinction of the jolly young waterman was imminent.