A Christmas Carol Charles Dickens Virtual Walk – 2020

South London Christmas Carol. Charles Dickens walk
04/12/2020 admin 0 Comments

Event Date and Time: 11 December 2020, 7pm – 9pm

Michelle Baharier of Fruit Cake Creatives recently invited friends and public to be part of a Dickens Christmas Carol walk. We saw what Ebenezer Scrooge saw, when he was visited by ghosts!

This iconic story is relevant to the current pandemic we are living through. Similarly back then, thousands lost jobs and were thrown into poverty. The walk takes place on Jacob’s Island where the urban underclass lived, making the set for Oliver Twist. Where Bill Sykes and Fagin lived in the story was reputed in reality as one of London’s worst slums in Jacob’s Island. It was as notorious as a thieves den in part of Bermondsey, South East London where Typhus was rife due to sewage backing up around the Island.

South London’s Jacob’s Island in Oliver Twist

In 1849, an article in The Morning Chronicle described Jacob’s Island as:

“The very capital of cholera”


“The Venice of drains”

It’s little wonder the area was a hotspot for the cholera epidemics in the late 19th century. Ditches were used for both sewers and drinking water. When social researcher Henry Mayhew and Dickens visited Jacob’s Island, they noted many inhabitants of the district had no water source to drink from other than from filthy ditches.

This so-called island was created alongside the Thames by the River, the docks and a series of tidal ditches.

Thames Water divides people

Today, Thames water is building the super sewer. Once upon a time, only the poor lived there. Now, Neckinger is home to a divided community including millionaires. We began at Miss Haversham’s house, of course, as she was from Great Expectations.

By the end of the 19th century, philanthropists were operating across London. Inhabitants were re-homed into better accommodation through new social housing schemes. With the establishment of London County Council in 1889 which favoured council homes, such as this estate today.

The Luftwaffe during World War II bombed the area leaving it heavily damaged by the Blitz. Today it is part of the London Borough of Southwark, with only one of the Victorian warehouses surviving.

As she walked in her night gown, Baharier took audiences on a wander using live stream, leading them to famous places known and unknown. To cheer alongside, Fruit Cake Creatives and friends created a live community with poetry and song.

Everyone brought their own food and drink to get into the festive mood as we envisaged the new normal of past, present, and future.

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