This extraordinary engraving depicts a view of the north shore of the Thames running from Western Stone Wharf by the Houses of Parliament to St Katharine’s Docks just east of Tower Bridge: a distance of some ten miles. The illustration was published as four supplements to the Pictorial Weekly. When readers joined the four parts together, the completed illustration extended to 14 feet in width!
The accompanying text is a hymn to Britain’s imperial strength, and to the role played by the Thames in fostering that strength:
The fatal Niger, the mighty Amerzon, the turpid Mississippi, the picturesque and historic Rhine, the rushing Danube, and the classic Tiber, have each their scenes, their stories, and associations; but commend us the river, whose bosom bears the ships of all nations, freighted with richest and rarest products of the earth – whose warehouses hold in plenteous abundance the harvest of all climes, and whose commerce is told in every language man can speak.