The World's Fair of 1889 drew some 32 million visitors to see attractions including the newly-built Eiffel Tower. Our archives include the evocative account of Robert Arthur, one of the visitors to the exhibition, who, along with a party of friends, travelled to Paris on a barge named City of London.
His diary of the trip (item reference: HSR/N/4), consisting of no more than some brief notes scribbled on a couple of small sheets of notepaper, is surprisingly informative. The barge sets out on a Thursday (he does not note the date) from London Victoria, stopping off at Dieppe and then proceeding along the Seine towards Paris. Nine days later he visits the exhibition for the first time and goes up the Eiffel Tower. He makes a further four visits during his remaining fortnight in Paris, on one occasion noting
‘Spent afternoon and evening at the exhibition - saw the fountains lighted up’.
Accompanying his diary is a photograph of the party of holidaymakers taken on board the City of London, although it is not known which, if any, of the men present is Robert Arthur. One can only assume that they enjoyed their trip, since, as Robert Arthur noted,
‘no barge ever carried a happier freight’.
Katherine Oxley, Archives Assistant
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