Just a regular early map, but the area I copied is an approximate area of the notorious woolwich dusthole ..
The Dust hole was a riverside area of Woolwich, north of Woolwich high street and covering an area roughly between where the foot tunnel is located and the boundary of the Arsenal.
As Woolwich grew in the 19th century this was a mainly industrial area and several wharves sprung up, many unloading coal. It is believed the name Dust Hole was derived from this trade.
The dust hole grew in notoriety in the mid to late Victorian era. It seemed to attract the most unsavoury specimens of the local population ( A bit like the wino’s in General Gordon square today )
This was very much a no go area for all but the lowest of the low, Even Police would not enter alone.
Charles Booth, a social researcher and philanthropist in the 19th century visited the area on May 19th 1900. Booths original notebooks describe his first day in the ‘Dusthole’ area.. he was accompanied by PC Clyne of the Metropolitan Police . Starting in Rope yard rails which was just behind Beresford street.
His notebooks record.....
( The following is copied from Charles Booths’ notebook )
“The street has 16 common lodging houses, all on the east side. There is some mess but the street is fairly clean. Practically all the houses are brothels, used by sailors, loafers, waterside labourers and the lowest paid soldiers, although for soldiers it is out of bounds and patrolled by the military police. Streets are full of women, One girl who looked barely 18 with a clean apron, frizzed hair and puffy red cheeks... a prostitute, PC Clyne tells me she has already been to prison 13 or 14 times.
The male inhabitants are bullies, pimps, dock and waterside labourers, costers, hawkers, thieves and tramps. The women are mostly prostitutes . . . No law runs in these streets.’ The north side of the High Street between Nelson Street and Collingwood Street was ‘perhaps the roughest of all the points in the Dust Hole. Women with broken noses, swollen faces, bare dirty unkempt faces and heads, bedraggled skirts, frayed edges everywhere, coarse Irish faces, bare arms.
“There is scarcely a lower class of girls to be found than the girls of the Woolwich 'Dusthole'. The women living and following their dreadful business in this neighbourhood are so degraded that even abandoned men will refuse to accompany them home.
It was not just the coal dust, the poor quality of the housing and sanitation, high rents and overcrowding, that made the place undesirable. There was also the river. On hot days in the 1890s the Thames was ‘an open sewer that sent forth the foulest assassinating stinks.
The worst of the slums were cleared in the 1920s and a large area was taken over by the Power station and coalyard in the 1930s.