Now available on Ancestry.com.au, the London Land Tax Valuations 1910 reveals the historic values of some of the city’s most famous streets and landmarks from just over a century ago.
These valuations were originally compiled in 1910 from across the UK as part of David Lloyd George’s 1910 Finance Act, later known as the ‘Domesday Survey’, which was introduced as a means to redistribute wealth through the assessment of land value.
As well as listing the owners and occupiers of a property, the records also detail the address, property value and annual rental yield for properties in early 20th century London, providing vital information about Britain’s epicentre at the time.
The records reveal a stark contrast to today’s housing market in London, with the average 1910 property carrying a price tag of just £14,000 – almost 3,000 per cent less than today.1
Of particular interest are the values of famous landmarks included in the collection, such as the Bank of England; worth a mere £110,000 in 1910, the Old Bailey; worth just £6,600, and Mansion House; which contrastingly was valued at an impressive £992,000. St Paul’s Cathedral also features, but without a valuation as it is listed as ‘exempt’ from tax.
Famous streets include the media-hub Fleet Street, which according to the records was even then home to numerous newspapers including the Liverpool Courier, Yorkshire Evening News and the Newcastle Chronicle. A property on Fleet Street cost an average of £25,000 in 1910, compared to £1.2 million today.2
Surprisingly, buildings on law-dominated Chancery Lane were worth very little (around £11,000) a century ago, compared to £1.1 million today. The rapid disappearance of family homes in the City over the last century has also led to a drastic change in the average house value, particularly evident on Cannon Street, where a home costing £20,000 in 1910 would today set a buyer back a staggering £2.2 million.3
As well as famous landmarks, the records also include some of the notable names of the era, such as:
- Sir W. S. Gilbert – An English dramatist best known for his comic operas, including The Pirates of Penzance, H.M.S. Pinafore and The Mikado, and allegedly an inspirational figure to Oscar Wilde. Gilbert is listed proprietor of three properties on Spring Street in Paddington.
- Sir William Crookes – A scientist who worked on spectroscopy, a pioneer of vacuum tubes, and famed for being one of the first scientists to investigate ‘plasmas’. He is listed in the records as living at 16 Newcastle Street, London.
The records provide a valuable snapshot of land ownership at the start of the 20th century and will enable those with ancestors in the collection to discover more about their respective financial situations and the lives they led a hundred years ago.
These records are especially useful as a census substitute for people tracing their London ancestors who may not have been captured in the 1911 England and Wales Census. They also a fascinating insight into London at the beginning of the 20th century – a time when Britain was on the verge of major social, political and economic change.
The collection complements the extensive UK census records, ranging from 1841 to 1901, already online at Ancestry.com.au.
London Land Tax Valuations 1910 was keyed as part of the Ancestry World Archives Project (AWAP), a collaborative effort that has allowed thousands of people around the world to help preserve history that would otherwise be lost. Learn more about AWAP.
1. A rise from 14,000 to 430,500 is an increase of 416,500, or 2975 per cent, or almost 3,000 per cent.
2. An audit of randomly selected records from Fleet Street, Chancery Lane and Cannon Street found the average values for property on these streets in 1910. These were contrasted with property prices found on leading UK property website www.nestoria.co.uk for December 2010.
3. See note above.