London’s Colorful Past

March 26th, 2014

Finding little treasures on little Roupell Street

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Homes on Roupell Street in London are going for about a million pounds these days. That’s about 1.6 million dollars. It shouldn’t be shocking that London homes are very expensive, but considering where they started out, it’s a surprising tale.

Built almost 200 years ago, the little brick “townhouses” just south of the Thames originally housed factory workers and artisans, the working poor. We took a walking tour that peeked into the city’s past and found the street situated there, just like it was way back in Victorian times. The neighborhood has been the setting for countless historical movies and TV shows. I swear Call The Midwife could’ve been shot right there along with Sherlock Holmes or Jack the Ripper tales.

To think that houses for the poor are now going for over a million is pretty shocking. Trying to mitigate this, though, the neighborhood council set up a strict repayment schedule. If a business moves into the district, they have to keep up the appearance of the old architecture as well as put money into a pool that helps out the less affluent. Thus, if you’re lucky and wait a really long time, you can get a world class apartment — right on the Thames — for only a couple hundred pounds a month.

Jobs killer? An example of government intervention running amok? Class warfare? Hardly. Big, wealthy businesses and restaurants are clamoring to get a spot in the Waterloo district and pay the enormous fee to the community pool.

The other people on my walking tour must’ve thought I was nuts, snapping pictures of the most interesting doors and knockers. But since the street, sidewalk, porch and doors were all jammed together, just a few feet separating each other, it didn’t feel at all intrusive just lifting up my camera briefly as certain ones caught my eye.

You can knock on one of the doors above, virtually that is, and take a look if you’d like. Let’s snoop behind the red lion and see what it’s like inside.

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