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Then & now: “Why should we make handsome thoroughfares depressingly ugly?”

Thames Embankment, 1897

Thames Embankment, 1897

ThamesEmbankment1908“There are certain districts and streets in which certain types of vehicles are suitable, but the Thames Embankment is not, we submit, the place
for horse tramcars. To disfigure the most magnificent boulevard in Great Britain, if not in Europe, by the hideous, obsolete, horse-drawn street car is an absolute outrage upon the community.

“Every one, with any sense of the beauty attaching to noble structures situated amid scenes of considerable natural beauty, will, we are sure, agree with us in our contention. Why should we make one of our very few handsome thoroughfares…depressingly ugly? Rather let us beautify where we can; our streets need it badly enough. The reason for this attempted desecration of the Embankment is merely ‘to give facilities to the teeming population of South London to reach their employment in town.’ This is…no justification for the aesthetic outrage complained of. The only vehicles, in our opinion, which should be permitted to use the Embankment, or which can use it without jarring upon one’s sense of the fitness of things, are high-class motor-carriages, pair-horse carriages, private cabs, and cycles; all other vehicles constitute an eyesore and are an offence.”

‘Disfiguring the Thames Embankment’
The Automotor and Horseless Vehicle Journal
March 1898

Thames Embankment today, not at all disfigured by motor vehicles... Image: Google Maps.

Thames Embankment today, not at all disfigured by motor vehicles… Image: Google Maps.

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