Between Chapman Street and Commercial Road

As this 1868 map [left] shows, north of the railway viaduct [red - the blue line is the underground railway] between Cannon Street Road and Watney Street ran Lower and Upper Chapman Streets [now Bigland Street and Chapman Street]. Miss Chapman, from the family whose local properties formed part of the Earl of Winterton's estates, was a benefactor of Christ Church Watney Street. In between ran Chapel Street, which was presumably named for Andrew Reed's Independent/Congregational chapel on Cannon Street Road (which became Trinity Episcopal Chapel in 1831), though there had also been a small 'Free Chapel' at 2 Lower Chapman Street. Although still shown as 'Chapel Street' on this map it had in fact been renamed Tait Street in 1868 (and is so shown on other maps), after Bishop Tait, who, despite being distinctly unhelpful over the Ritualism Riots, had visited the area during cholera epidemics. The King and Queen public house was at 51 Tait Street. Confusingly, after portions of Walburgh Street, Tait Street and Tillman Street were closed in 1962 to enable LCC residential development, part of Walburgh Street was renamed Tait Street.

Walburgh Street ran north-south under the viaduct from Cable Street to Lower Chapman Street. W.C. Hood's St George's Dye and Colour Works was in Walburgh Street. The Chemical News of 23 November 1874 noted to obtain a good writing ink, dissolve Geigy's soluble aniline black in water. This colour is manufactured by John R. Geigy, Basle, Switzerland, and is much used for that purpose; it can be obtained in this country from W.C. Hood, Walburgh Street. The Printing Times of 1880 reported that one Hood's specialities was a liquid printing ink which is said to be very useful and economical, drying well. The following year the journal announced that he had produced a number of new dyes and inks of various colours for home consumption and export, which he had named 'Cycloids'. The colours included methyl green, eosine, safranine [both red], magenta, violet, blue, black, grey, brown, orange and yellow.

James O. Freedman in Finding the Words (Princeton 2007) tells how his father was born in 1898 in Walburgh Street, when his parents were en route from Lodz to the USA; he was fostered by a Christian family when his mother died suddenly and his devastated father went off to South Africa. They refused to give him up when his father made it to the USA, so a kidnap was arranged - the boy travelled to Philadelphia, aged seven, in the company of a Mrs Wolf.

In 1905 the British Esperanto Association was formed, and Philip Kalisky of Walburgh Street was Vice-President of the East London Esperanto Guild, and taught a weekly class at St George's Street School on The Highway [pictured is Walter Crane's plate for the national journal, and some early enthusiasts]. Here are pictures from the 1920s looking south and north along Walburgh Street, and a peace party after it was blitzed in the Second World War, showing the damage done by the 1,00-pound bomb that fell on the night of 18/19 September 1940. Edith Wyeth's childhood home was at number 33.

The writer Jean Fullerton grew up hereabouts [left], and based parts of a novel set in the early 19th century in Walburgh Street. Chapter 11 of A Glimpse of Happiness (Orion 2009) describes a party after a nuptial mass at St Mary & St Michael, Virginia Street, the couple having first married at St George-in-the-East as the law at the time required. Right is the street from Commercial Road in 1963.

The streets running south off Commercial Road, between Cannon Street Road and Watney Street, were (from west to east), Rampart [formerly Little Turner], Richard, Jane, Anthony, Fenton, Buross, Hungerford, Planet [for a time Star] and Devonshire Streets.

Richard Street's short remnant now forms the entrance to Mulberry School for Girls [left].

Jane Street ran from Lower Chapman Street to Commercial Road; right are two images from the 1950s. (Again, now it is only a few yards long, with no houses). In 1958 much of the street was subject to a compulsory purchase order under Part III of the 1957 Housing Act (to which there were objections - a few of the houses had been well-maintained). Here are Rachelle Marks' memories of growing up in the street until the family was rehoused in 1951.

Anthony Street ran from Commercial Road (where a few yards survive) through to Cable Street. In 1885, the single death attributed to typhus was at 42 Anthony Street (General Register Office).  Here is the list of traders in the street from the 1921 London Street Directory:

West Side
2   Marks Goldberg, painter
24 Emmanuel Segal, chandlers shop [i.e. a general store]
84 [previously 13] Ship, Jacob Rosefeld

East Side
23 Lewis Guyster, butter dealer
47 Woolf Sack, chandlers shop
49 Alex Greespun, baker
53 Albert Lawrence, insurance agent
95 [Railway Arms] Frederick Jefcoate, beer retailer [1]
[1] In 1934 he was landlord of the Prince of Wales in Chrisp Street, Poplar. In 1936 George Henry Jefcoate of Clapton left £23,813 to William and Frederick Jefcoate, beerhouse keepers, and in 1946 George Jefcoate of the Golden Lion, Soho, left £12,560 to Frederick and George Jefcoate, publicans.

As a teenager in the post-war years, the actor and playwright Steven Berkoff [left] lived for a time in Anthony Street. His father Abraham (Al) had run a tailor's shop in Leman Street, cutting lavish zoot suits for West Indian settlers, and supplying some of the Jewish East End boxers. The family's move to the USA was unsuccessful, so they returned to two rooms and an outside WC, with chickens in the yard, in Anthony Street. Here are some of his memories of his childhood: the Troxy cinema in Poplar on Saturday mornings, the Palaseum on Sunday afternoon, swimming at Victoria Park lido in the summer and at Betts Street baths in the winter. He was a near-contemporary of the late Harold Pinter at Raine's School, then in Arbour Square.

Fenton Street housed Stertzover synagogue. Right are the remains of the street, from Commercial Road, in 1963.

Buross Street: in 1837 Henry Stephens, gentleman, of Marylebone and Ebenezer Nash of Buross Street, tallow chandler, were granted a patent for Certain Improvements in Manufacturing Colouring, and rendering certain Colour or Colours [more] applicable to Dyeing, Staining, and Writing - the word 'more' was added a few months later on advice, suggesting a difficulty of some kind. Stephens was presumably the inventor's patron.

The Refiner's Arms, originally numbered 23, then for a time 25 Cannon Street Road, and then 52 or 53 Buross Street, was extant before 1838 and finally closed around 1989 (but continued as a social club). Its 1870 landlord Edwin Barker was one of a number of publicans to go bankrupt. In the latter part of the 19th century it was the venue for St George's Musical Union's Friday evening entertainments. As Professor Bill Fishman, chronicler of life in East London, pointed out in East End 1888, this was part of the positive side to pub culture, alongside the negative image portrayed by many clergy and others: They sold wholesome food and according to the degree of respectability of the house, hired out backrooms for musical concerts and dances, where pianos plus a tuner and even an orchestra could be supplied.  The Christian socialist priest Stewart Headlam held a similar view, noted here.

In 1892 the pub was also the venue for the formation of a local branch of the Costermongers' Union (they had had a friendly society since 1850). The flashpoint for this was a prosecution, by Holborn Board of Works, under the 1817 Metropolitan Paving Act (commonly known as Michael Angelo Taylor's Act), of a costermonger called Summers for setting up his stall in Farringdon Street, and the belief that the further similar prosecutions against street traders were imminent. Its membership was one-third Jewish. In the coming years, together with cabmen, the union was active - particularly in the Bethnal Green area - in opposing restrictions on licensing, traffic (1902) and Sunday trading (1905). The chair at the formation meeting had been taken by Harry (Hananel) Marks whose election to Parliament in 1895 for St George-in-the-East - as a Conservative, narrowly defeating the Liberal John Williams Benn - was challenged on various grounds, including his support for the costermongers; the findings (reported in 5 O'M & H 89) were:
Marks was president of a philanthropic society to help the poor of the constituency which distributed tickets for free coal, but distribution was not political and it was not corrupt. Marks' subscription of 5 guineas to help costermongers fight a ban on placing stalls was legitimate. Free drinks at a smoking concert were paid by the Irish Unionist Alliance and not by Marks. A campaign statement that Benn had a skeleton in his cupboard was not made by an agent of Marks. A recriminatory case failed when it accused Benn of false statements of fact failed because the leaflet in question was published before the Act came into force; the case did establish that Benn's payment for linen banners was illegal.
A scrutinised recount increased Marks' majority from 4 to 11.
There was a synagogue in the street.

Hungerford Street, like the above streets, was closed off in 1964. In 1889, as part of a series of local strikes, there was a rent strike, and a banner appeared across the street with the words As we are on strike landlords need not call, plus the rhyme
Our husbands are on strike; for the wives it is not honey / And we all think it not right to pay the landlord money.
Everyone is on strike; so landlords do not be offended. / The rent that's due we'll pay when the strike is ended.
See further Gerry Mooney Class Struggle & Social Welfare (Routledge 2000).

Lower Chapman Street [now Bigland Street]: at the eastern end of the street a Board School [left, today] was built in 1873; see here for more details, including its spot-listing. After closure, for a time it became an outpost of the University of Greenwich's School of Earth Sciences, as 'Walburgh House', before becoming Darrul Ummah, an Islamic centre. On the corner of Walburgh Street, at no.18, was the Australian Arms pub, built some time before 1851 and in its later years a Courage's house; it was burnt out in 1989 and subsequently demolished - now rebuilt as a supermarket, with flats over [right, at each stage]. The Chapman Arms was at 25 Lower Chapman Street, from the 1850s to the 1920s or later, and the Victoria Arms at 77. John Keil, who lived in the street, is named on the war memorial in St George's Gardens. Gosling Gardens [far right - named for Harry Gosling] is a small park off Bigland Street.

In 1934 two 4-storey blocks of 'philanthropic housing' were built in the area (incorporated rather awkwardly, says Pevsner in London vol.5 (Penguin 2005)) by the Chapman Development Trust: Chapman House on Bigland Street [left], next to the Congregational Church's Coverdale & Ebenezer building, and in a more 'progressive' style, designed by Joseph Emberton, Turnour House [right], with 15 flats, on Walburgh Street - named after the Winterton family, who were significant local landowners (see here for a picture of a visit of Lady Winterton to Tillman Street). Also named for them is Winterton House, a tower block on Deancross Street (now outside the parish), built in 1968 with a concrete service core, light steel external columns and precast lightweight concrete floors and external GRP cladding - one of only four towers built to this system and later virtually rebuilt (the other three have been demolished). It was one of a pair with Gelston Point, off Watney Street. Luke House on TIllman Street is a 22-storey block of 1965 [far right].

Left is Chapman Place in 1956, before the area was substantially redeveloped. It now includes Bigland Green Primary School, which hit the headlines in 2010 when a dismissed teacher made allegations that it was aggessively Islamic and hostile to Judaism and Christianity: a difficult time for the school! We welcome classes who visit the church for curriculum activities. Pace Place remains, but there is now nothing left of Ann Street and Mary Street which ran between Upper and Lower Chapman Streets, nor of the various local courts and alleys, including Albion Place and Victoria Place.

South of the viaduct

is Cornwall Street, with three blocks of flats - Newton House, Richard Neale House, and Maddox House [pictured]. At the junction with Cannon Street Road, against the viaduct, is a small informal memorial garden, pictured here.

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