The things you own end up owning you.

Visualising George Orwell’s “Down and Out in Paris and London”

In this entry, I would like to visiualise some “things” and “places” mentioned in George Orwell’s marvellous book of “Down and Out in London and Paris”.  The book I have is anew copy of the Penguin Books, but I realised that they kept loyal to the page numbers.

I. The OXO Tin

The First “thing” I would like to visualise, (roughly, I am never sure if this is what he talks about in this case, but at least it gives and idea) is the OXO-tin of the Irishman where he kept the cigarette-ends.  (p.140)

OXO meat Cubes belong at the time to the The Liebig Extract of Meat Company (Lemco). According to Wikipedia:

In 1899, the company introduced the trademark Oxo for a cheaper version; the origin of the name is unknown, but presumably comes from the word ox. In 1908 Oxo sponsored the London Olypmic Games (despite claims by Coca Cola to being the ‘first’ commercial sponsor of the Games) and supplied athletes with Oxo drinks to fortify them. The first Oxo cubes were produced in 1910 and further increased Oxo’s popularity as the cubes were cheaper than the liquid. During the first half of the 20th century, Oxo was promoted through issues of recipes, gifts and sponsorships before fading into the background as a part of the fabric of English life in the latter parts of the century. For the beginning of the 21st century a new image was promoted with modern television advertising and sensibilities. (

II. The Twopenny Hangover

This is what a twopenny hangover looks like: the photo is from the, taken around 1930s. So fits the time of the book written.

III. The Embankment

This is how it looks like, sleeping on the Embankment. I took the photo from this webpage (  The original photo is taken ´from ‘The Tramp: his Meaning and Being’ by Frank Gray, published in 1931, courtesy of Gordon Bowker.

IV.  The Tower House – The Rowton House in Whitechapel:

This is a photo of the Whitechapel Rowton House.  The first of its kind established in London by Lord Rowton in 1892 in Vauxhall, and this was the fifth established in 1902 and provided 816 beds.

I took the photo from the wonderful website on Workhouses in the UK. ( The Photo is from 1902.

(Whitechapel Rowton House from the north-east, 1902. © Peter Higginbotham.)

To see how it looks like today: (

V. Hammersmith Rowton House

The Hammersmith Rowton House was established in 1899. The photo is (again) from the Workhouse website:

Hammersmith Rowton House admission ticket, 1899.
© Peter Higginbotham.(same webpage)

VI.  Newington Butts – Rowton House

The Newington Butts was opened on 23rd December 1897 and provided 805 beds. (Same website as above)

A Sleeping cubicle from the Newington House.

Newington Butts sleeping cubicles, 1897.
© Peter Higginbotham.   (same website as above)

Newington Butts Rowton House lavatories, 1897.
© Peter Higginbotham.  (Same webpage as above)

VII.  Camden Town Rowton House

Established in 1905.

Both photos from the same webpage

VIII. King’s Cross Rowton House

established in 1896

(photo from the above mentioned webpage)

IX. Vauxhall Rowton House

The first of it’s type, established in 1892. (same webpage)


January 2, 2010 - Posted by | Books


  1. That you for posting these. I have just reread the Orwell book and commented on it ( so your pictures are just perfect.

    I especially like the one of the men sleeping on the rope. Orwell used some of this same material in his early novel The Clergyman’s Daughter.

    Comment by silverseason | January 4, 2010 | Reply

    • hey, thanks for visiting my site and for your comments. I am happy that they helped you visualise some of the places Orwell explains. I will try to enlarge the page in the following days. And thanks for the link, rightaway I will check your webpage. By the way, if you are interested, there is wonderful documentary on Orwell at the youtube. It’s one conducted by the BBC and called: “George Orwell: A Life in Pictures. They did it by using a wonderful actor who played orwell.
      Let me give you the link:

      This is the first part of the documentary, and you can continue by clicking the subsequent parts.
      Have a nice evening, regards

      Comment by seriesofhopes | January 4, 2010 | Reply

  2. […] Just in time I find a marvelous post with pictures of the places and events Orwell writes […]

    Pingback by Down and Out in Paris and London « Silver Threads | January 6, 2010 | Reply

  3. Great photos. I stayed in tower house in 1989 on a 3 day DHSS ticket..middle of winter it was a cold and unforgiving place. but still a roof over ur head They were the days. thatcher called us the something for nothing society. today we’re called the unemployed. Glad to say it was the only time i was poor and homeless in my life and more glad to see the back of Ireland and England. God bless to all the lads who are sill on the streets. NEVER GIVE UP.

    Comment by gussy | July 16, 2011 | Reply

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