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Ratcliff, Middlesex

Historical Description

Ratcliff, a hamlet and a township in Middlesex. The hamlet lies on the river Thames, opposite the Pool, and on the Blackwall railway, 2½ miles E by S of St Paul's, London; was anciently called Redclyve or Redcliff; took that name from a quondam cliffy bank of the Thames; was a mere village, inhabited chiefly by seafaring men, in the time of Camden; suffered devastation by fire in 1794; is now a compact suburb of the metropolis; has a main street, formerly called Ratcliff Highway, now known as St George's Street, and formerly planted on each side with elm trees; contains Albert Square, York Square, and Regent's Canal basin; and is in the Eastern Postal District. Acreage of township, 111; population, 14,928. Ratcliff Highway, which has been described as the Regent Street of the sailors of the port of London, was formerly notorious for scenes of coarse debauchery and rioting. Now, thanks to effective police supervision and the zealous labours of mission workers, it has become comparatively orderly and quiet. There are, however, a good many music-halls, dancing-rooms, and other places of amusement which are largely patronised by sailors. Another interesting feature of this district is to be found in the wild beast shops, where the sailors sell the birds and beasts they bring home, and where wild animals are kept to supply shows and menageries. Baron Swedenborg, founder of the New Jerusalem (Swedenborgian) Church, lies buried in the Swedish Church, Prince's Square, Ratcliff Highway.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5

Land and Property

A full transcript of the Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Middlesex is online.


Online maps of Ratcliff are available from a number of sites:

DistrictTower Hamlets
CountyGreater London
Postal districtE1W
Post TownLondon