Charles Dickens set portions of his novel Oliver Twist in the area of Shad Thames, at a time when it was an area of notorious poverty known as Jacob's Island. In Oliver Twist, he set Bill Sikes's den at the east of Shad Thames in Oliver Twist, in the buildings adjacent to St Saviour's Dock. It is here that Sykes falls from a roof and dies in the mud, probably of St Saviour's Dock itself.
Dickens, gives us a vivid description of what this unsavoury place must have looked like at the time of the novel,
". . . crazy wooden galleries common to the backs of half a dozen houses, with holes from which to look upon the slime beneath; windows, broken and patched, with poles thrust out, on which to dry the linen that is never there; rooms so small, so filthy, so confined, that the air would seem to be too tainted even for the dirt and squalor which they shelter; wooden chambers thrusting themselves out above the mud and threatening to fall into it - as some have done; dirt-besmeared walls and decaying foundations, every repulsive lineament of poverty, every loathsome indication of filth, rot, and garbage: all these ornament the banks of Jacob's Island."