12. Common Lodging Houses and Surrey Towns

‘The Place is not fit to Accomadate Travellers and I think it my Duty to Rite to you.’

In January 1880, George Davis of Hounslow wrote to Scotland Yard to complain about the poor standard of accommodation he found at the Kings Head, a large beer house and lodging house at the Market Place, near Black-boy Lane, in Staines. Davis, a traveller and hawker, left no forwarding address and probably little imagined that the authorities would investigate his complaint.

Within the week, the Inspector of Nuisances paid an unannounced visit to the Kings Head. Walter Waring, a fellow lodger, told him that Davis, who had only one leg, got into bed with all his clothes on and kept the men in the other six beds awake by ‘singing and talking all night’. Perhaps Davis had written his letter in revenge for the ‘high words’ of the other lodgers the following morning.

In answer to Davis’s specific claim that he was cold at night, the inspection report found no problem with the bedding, noting that ‘the Beds are Oat Chaff, a Bolster, Pillow, Two Sheets, a covering consisting of patchwork quilting and wadding four or five times thick and a counter pane’.

‘The Inspector found this common lodging house to be ‘in fair condition’. In 1871, some local ratepayers had wanted to ‘annihilate all such Disease Nurseries as Black-boy Lane and Tramps Lodging Houses’. Despite some resistance, the area was cleared for redevelopment during the 1880s.

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The notice, addressed to the ‘Ratepayers of Staines!’, announcing a meeting about town improvements including ‘the Proposal to annihilate all such Disease Nurseries as Black-boy Lane and Tramps Lodging Houses’, November 1871. City of London, London Metropolitan Archives, ACC/0809/MISC/037.

Extract from a letter from George Davis, a Traveller, complaining about the condition of the King’s Head Lodging House, Staines.
City of London, London Metropolitan Archives, ACC/0809/LB/036.
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Extract from a letter from George Davis, a Traveller, complaining about the condition of the King’s Head Lodging House, Staines. City of London, London Metropolitan Archives, ACC/0809/LB/036.

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The letter was addressed to Scotland Yard. City of London, London Metropolitan Archives, ACC/0809/LB/036.

Page two of the report made by the Inspector of Nuisances

Page two of the report made by the Inspector of Nuisances in response to the lodger’s complaint, February 3 1880.
City of London, London Metropolitan Archives, ACC/0809/LB/036.

 

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One thought on “12. Common Lodging Houses and Surrey Towns”

  1. Julie Caust says:

    I am doing my family history from Australia and came across the 1851 census which has my 3rd great grandmother widowed and living with her 2 young sons at 151 Blackboy Lane Staines. It appears to be quite an awful area from what I can glean. I would love any further insight.

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