An indirect rail service to Ashford, Canterbury, Ramsgate and Margate was in place by 1846, offering an alternative to the traditional journey down the Thames. The opening of London Victoria in 1862 enabled a direct route down the East coast, taking tourists to the resorts to improve their health, seek entertainment and try new food. But the newly built Victoria Station was only a few streets away from the notorious slum area known as ‘The Devil’s Acre’.
Plans for the Embankment had been drawn up by 1862, but it was yet to be built. In 1902 Jerome K. Jerome recalled the river as it was in the early 1860s, where a walk through London could still end ‘in a raw, unfinished street, ending in black waste land, bordering the river’ (Paul Kelver).
Further to the south-east lay the slightly less impoverished Vauxhall area of Lambeth.