This doesn't shed any light on the original question, but thought it might still be if interest;
Morning Advertiser 20th Sept 1888
"PAUPERISM IN LONDON
The number of paupers in London on Saturday last, exclusive of lunatics in asylums and vagrants was 91,488, as compared with 89,764 on the corresponding day of last year, 86,376 in 1886, and 85,592 in 1885. The vagrants relieved numbered 985, of whom 787 were men, 178 women, and 20 children under 16 years of age."
And the Cholera epidemics that decimated the London population in the early 19th century. The last one was 1854. They thought cholera was caused by a 'miasma' bad air, Dr John Snow in Soho discovered the connection between infected water and cholera in the 1850s in an infected water pump.
Have you read The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson? I'm working on it right now. Actually, I started it over a year ago but got sidetracked.
It is hard for me to imagine Covent Garden being anything but the gentrified, upscale shopping neighborhood it is today, but I guess it was still a rather unrefined food market at the turn of the century.
I remember when Covent Garden was a fruit and veg market, it was very vibrant, it has always been an exciting part of London and next to the Royal opera House and Theatre Royal Drury Lane. Look at Shaw's play,Pygmalion. In the 1850s/60s Seven dials was a slum area on a par with the east end, difference was, it very small area, next to the West End and many theatres, so was not isolated,as a poor area, being so close to the wealthy playground. My own great grandmother was born in the slums off Drury Lane and became a music hall artiste.
After the move of the market to nine elms, the Greater London Council wanted to demolish Covent Garden, the whole area was listed by Geoffrey Howe, which started the regeneration in the early eighties. There were lots of independent shops there, now there are more chains and i was a regular at the Monmouth Coffee Shop in Neal St where I bought my beans. The old fruit market Jubilee hall became a antique market and the Apple market in the central hall became a craft and antique market.
I had a stall there at Jubilee in the early eighties and after a gap of many years i started stalling out again.
My greatgrandmother was born in 1869, she died before I was born but i know a lot about her career, she stopped when she shacked up with my greatgrand father who was born in the East End She knew Marie Lloyd, they appeared on the same bill when teenagers, she toured the country with the Horn Brothers. she was a dancer, each performer had a circuit of halls they would appear in. She appeared a lot at the South London Palace. Unfortunately I have no photos although i do have a drawing.