This is the first in a series of posts comparing photos of London in the 1870s and 80s with the same view today.
The pictures taken by Henry Dixon were to document parts of London already considered old. Some were about to be demolished, such as the row of decrepit houses in Wych St (now Aldwych); others were destined to be preserved, such as the gatehouse of Lincoln's Inn.
The feted south-bank pub above, the George, is the only surviving example of a pre-1880s London galleried coaching inn. Dixon and others photographed many such inns (such as the White Hart Inn, mentioned in Shakespeare's Henry VI; and the Oxford Arms) just before they were demolished in the pub boom of the 1880s and 1890s. Heavy commercial investment saw every likely pub in London undergo major refurbishment in the ornate, high-Victorian style of the period (of which the best surviving example today is the Princess Louise on High Holborn).
The George, perhaps because of its marginal position on the unfashionable south bank, survived the redevelopment frenzy. It is now a tourist attraction in its own right.
The top picture is Dixon's. A zoomable version of this image is on our Online Gallery. Writing about the George in 1880, Alfred Marks lamented that it had been "a good deal modernised since its re-building after the fire of 1676. Its large courtyard is now used as a railway goods office. The east and north galleries have been so boarded up as to lose all their old character."
Below it is the same view as it appeared during a 'thorough research trip' in August 2009.