Later that morning Tepic and some of his friends were nailing the sidings onto the wooden frame they had built by the dock. Soon it would be finished, a simple enough building, but ample to hold the still and the crates of goods they had acquired.
At the far end of the lot they saw a couple of shifty looking blokes eying up the empty space, pacing out the length and breadth. Soon after they vanished, a gang of workmen turned up with carts full of bricks and other building materials, their supervisor marking off areas with bits of string and metal pins. He had finished two rows and was about to start on a third when the urchins realised he was getting mighty close to their shed. It didn’t take too many lobbed half bricks to persuade him to be content with what he had already done, and the urchins settled down to their traditional sport of watching other people work and yelling out helpful and constructive suggestions…..
It was with surprising speed that the buildings went up, single story two roomed purpose built slums, with a communal water fountain at one end of the row, and a brick built privy in each yard. Nothing special, and with no real foundations except for the City’s cobbles, most would last only a year or two before collapsing back on themselves, but for a working family on limited means, they were a good place to live till times improved.
As the light dropped, the last chimney pot was mortared in place, and the front doors hung on basic hinges. The doors were a symbol of, if not prosperity, at least solvency, for the first time the rent was not paid the Rent Men would come and take the door away.
It was, of course, an opportunity for Tepic and the urchins. It didn’t take long before they had set up the old Sneaky Vole lean-too at the end of one row. When the new tenants moved in they would be thirsty, and if the bar was there and ready…. They would also have some stew hot on the fire, nothing went down better after moving into a new place than a nice bowl of hot stew, even if you did have to share it with the whole family.
Even though no one moved n that night, it was a good evening, with lots of people dropping by for a chat and small libation. It was a popular route, and the custom was good, the only worry being the proximity of the Church. They had not been very understanding of the concept of free enterprise last time the Vole had a permanent home, hopefully this time they could see the value in such a socially valuable business…..
(The slums are based on rows built in Manchester in the late 18 hundreds, probably the most basic slums available. They were purpose built as slums – shoddy workmanship, low rents and not wholesome. Most slums in the UK were brick built, even the outhouse, as wood was just not up to the job, and cheap bricks were less expensive than wood anyhow! Mention was made of how the frontage was very flat and uninteresting – well, that’s exactly how they were! The yard out back was part of the requirements even for a slum building, it was where the outhouse went, and where washing could be dried.)
Eh, I’d prefer living in a cheap flat over a slum anyday. Hanging around a slum, though…
Only drawbacks I see are the questionable booze over at the Vole and the dissapointing rooftop views. But hey, it’s easier to climb onto.
– Edward Hyde
The massive lycan poked his head around the corner that led to the ramshackle slums, this area did not fit with what the beast remembered and thus confused his sense of direction, but at the same time piqued his curiostiy. The werewolf examined the shacks closely, their fronts barely a few feet taller than himself, and the back ends were much shorter than his hulking frame. He put his enormous paws upon the slanted roof of the structure and readied himself to climb up, when there came a sudden groan of protest from the shoddy structure. The lycan retained just enough intellegence to realize that climbing these buildings would most likely end in sudden pain and was therefore a very bad idea. By this time, however the Were had caught the scent of the Sneaky Vole and he poked his nose around the small wooden shack curiously. He was about to locate the stew beef when the sudden sounds of people nearby drew his attention back to the quayside as a small team of urchins could be heard uloading supplies on the dock. The Werewolf, finding himslef in one of his more placid moods decided it was for the best not to stay around, lest he be discovered, and he didn’t want to find out what the locals did to Monsters. He quickly leapt out of sight and scrambled over a nearby building, his heavy footfalls vanishing into the dark smoke and fog.
Edward Hyde was still bleeding from the head when he stumbled against the outer walls of the new, pitiful excuse of a neighborhood. He had been unconscious for what seemed like forever, and he could still feel his entire right side ache from the sudden impact he experienced just moments before. Hyde could barely hear his better half’s thoughts as the pain overpowered all other thoughts.
These were all very good reasons that Hyde was happy to be spotted by the local street urchins when they came closer to the slums, hauling their goods and supplies to their new hideout. The children took pity on the scary-looking man and sat him down near their makeshift pub, where they tended to his wounds the best way they knew how; With strips of stained cloth wrapped haphazardly around the bloody head, a steaming bowl of The-Hell’s-In-This Stew, and their signature Vole Milk Brew (which was probably mixed with sewer water and moose urine from the smell of it.)
Hyde had known better food and liquor than what the urchins had to offer, but he begrudgingly accepted their hospitality anyway. Besides, it was free and he was in serious need of rest and a friggin’ drink after what had happened to him just across the street.
“Wot happened to yer head?” An urchin would ask.
“Eh, I got in a fight,” Hyde grumbled in reply.
“Oh… Did de ova bloke hit yer wit’ a brick?”
“More like the whole bleeding wall.“
“Really?! Who was strong enough ta toss ye against a wall?”
“… Oh, maybe he called himself Mr. MIND YER OWN DAMN BUSINESS, KID!!“
This awkward visit to the Sneaky Vole continued until Hyde decided he was well enough to stumble back home, where he could better tend to his wounds. But first he decided to try climbing onto the rooftop of one side of the slums using the barrels and the shack as a staircase of sorts. He could still feel the slight aching of his joints as he pulled himself up, but he knew he would live. Just needed to rest on the rooftops for a bit and muse on how much these slums reminded him of Manchester, England. Hyde strolled across, wondering how this shoddy roofing is holding his (admittedly light for a grown man) weight, when he nearly tripped on a dent that had been formed at the end of the row.
As Hyde examined the dent, he breathed a sigh of relative relief as he could finally hear Jekyll’s voice for the first time in hours.
“Oh dear… How are we going to explain this to Wright?”
I think there will be a few interested tenants at least…I mean at least these are a step up from the sewer.
((I LOVE these buildings! Seriously, Babbage needs more class division for that added spice of realism. Considering the divide was sewer/street to cheap apartment before this? I’d say this is a neccisary stepping stone to make the city make more sense. I look forward to seeing what characters roleplay there. ^-^))
I shall look forward to visiting and seeing how the build has gone. The picture does make the whole slum area to be a very dank and miserable place – it looks realistic and I like it.
Incidentally, I was interested to hear that the front door was removed in the case of non-payment of rent. Was this really true in real life?
Yes, was common practice in Britain, up to the First World War, don’t think it survived that conflict. Had two purposes, first was it was eaiser to kick the tenants out the next time they missed the rent, and secondly it was a badge of shame, though in some districts it was considered swank to have a front door!
Other cost saving measures were shared trousers between night and day shift workers, pawning the Sunday suit on Monday morning, to be redeemed on Saturday when you were paid, and waiting till the end of the market to buy your food, in the hopes of picking up a bargin.
Once, a Victorian actor came to my school to deliver a roleplay talk to the children. One thing that fascinated me was that he explained that bricks were placed in some slums edgeways, during their build, so that less bricks could be used to make more slums. I love little details such as this (and your front door tale.)
Mr Eliot lay on the roof of a building near the new slums and mused to himself”come sweet little birds, move into your new little cages, so i can teach you to sing.