1921 Street Directory of St George's Street
This list shows that most of the small businesses, and some of the pubs, were Jewish-run, with a sprinking of Irish. Premises were generally very small. Right is a general view from 1928. Premises were renumbered some time in the 1920s. A 'chandler's shop' was a general store, not specifically marine. See the notes below on some of the occupants. Left is Goad's 1887 insurance map of the street - W and E of Cannon Street Road, showing the location of Harris Terrace, Russell Court and Ratcliff Street.

NORTH SIDE [E-W from Dellow Street to Well Street]
London County Council School [The Highway School]
Arthur Tydeman, beer retailer [the Gun Boat]
106 & 107 Thomas & George
Oyler, registered lodging house [1]
108 William
Wells, laundry
109 Max Bar, secondhand clothes dealer
110 Max Solley, ladies tailor
111 (& 79-82 or 83) Dickson & Head Ltd, glass merchants [2]
112 Bloom & Phillips, boot manufacturers [3]
114 Morris Cohen, boot repairer
114 & 115 Leon Zimmerman, marine store dealer
... here is Ratcliff Street ...
116 Bell Towers, Graff Marks [aka The Blue Bell / The Bell]
117 Solomon Silverman, india rubber waste dealer
118 Ernest William Cross, coffee rooms
119 Half Moon & Seven Stars, Harry Shanks [4]
121 Morris Levy, chandlers shop
122 Abraham Levy, tailor
122 Solomon Goldberg, tobacconist
... here is Harris Terrace ...
123 Morris Cohen, greengrocer
124 Samuel Lewis, ladies hat maker
126 Benjamin Gepstein, china dealer
127-128 J & B Dodsworth Ltd, wholesale stationers [5]
129 Isaac Beller, underclothing maker
130 Louis Solomons, draper
131 Lazarus Greenbaum, mantle maker
132 Solomon Fellerman, misc dealer
133 Morris Feldman, mantle maker
134 Mrs Esther Green, chandlers shop
136 Charity Organisation Society (St George in the East District Committee)
136 & 137 St George's Parish Church Mission House
138 David Fox, fishmonger
139 Jacob Grossman, tailor
140 Lewis Redhouse, tobacconist
141 Joseph Ernestein, boot repairer
143 Israel Gross, chandlers shop
... here is Cannon Street Road ...
144 Isaac Golinsky & Sons, clothing manufacturers
146 Jacob Weintropp, tailor

Harris Rosenovitch, poultry dealer

150 Abraham Rickman, tailor
151 Israel Krishman, tailor
153 Jacob Fish & Son, boot manufacturers
... here is Denmark Street ...
157-162 Crompton & Thompson Ltd, military contractors [6]
163 Ratcliff Gospel Mission
... here is Betts Street ...
164 Michael O'Neill, greengrocer
165 Mrs Florence Rosetta Iden, tobacconist
166 Jacob Zurich, tailor
167 Mrs Sophia O'Higgins, beer retailer
169 Augustus Groginsky, hairdresser
170 Gershon Hart, haberdasher
... here is Princes Street ...
172 Harris Kusnitzoff, chandlers shop
176 & 177 Andrew & George Gally & Co, looking glass makers [7]
182 Woolf Wernick, poultry dealer [8]
184 & 185 (& 10-11) Middleton Bros, oil merchants [9]
189 Lewis Freedman, chandlers shop [right in 1943]
190 Zusman Sherick, rag merchant
193 Simon Levy, chandlers shop
... here is Pell Street ...

194 Philip Stern, rag merchant
195 Marks Sonenschein, greengrocer [right in 1943]
198 Woolf Davis, tailor
196 & 197 Red Lion, Alfred Parker
... here is Ship Alley ...
201 Morris Goldman, secondhand clothes dealer
202 Harris Benjamin, boot repairer
203 Rose & Crown, Philip Levy
207 Hyman Karpel, boot repairer
... here is Neptune Street ...
215-217 Seamen's Christian Friend Society Chapel [10]
215-217 Seamen's Free Reading Room, Rev George John Hill, secretary [10]
219 Israel Benjamin, coal dealer
220 Israel Rosenberg, chandlers shop
221 Jno Daniel Hamlyn, naturalist [11]
224 Peter D.T. Kofoed, beer retailer [no pub name given - Kofoed is a Danish surname]
... here is Well Street ...

SOUTH SIDE [W-E from Virginia Street to West Gardens]
... here is Virg
inia Street ...
    Thomas Gooch & Sons, wool warehouse keepers [now called Telford's Yard]
... here is Breezers Hill ...
1  White Bear, Mrs Alice Tomlin
8  Jacob Lamport, rag merchant
9  Caney & Briggs Ltd, cork merchants [12]
10 & 11 (& 184 & 186) Middleton Bros, oil merchants [9]
12 Harris Schneider, india rubber waste merchant
13 Lewis Nathanson, tailor
16 Zelic Hornwitz, tailor
... here is Artichoke Hill ...
19 Artichoke, Philip Cohen
20 William Conway, horse flesh butcher [13]
21 Max Kosminsky, greengrocer
23 Philip Stone, fri
ed fish shop
26 Morris Sibolky, clothes dealer
28 James Thomas Offin, dairy
30 Arthur Truran, chandlers shop
31 John Schmieden, baker
32 Crooked Billet, Richard William Nayler
34 Jacob Beitler, boot repairer
35 Woolf Taborisky, chandlers shop
36 Mrs Fanny Bernstein, confectioner
37 Louis Kaufmann, chandlers shop
38 Nathan Copoloff, tailor
39 Solomon Mandelbaum, purse maker
40 Hyman Bernstein, tailor
... here is Johns Hill ...
41 to 43 Yeble Printing Press [14]
42A Harris Stander, boot repairer
44A Sam Lampart, butcher
... here is Dro
od Yard ...
46 Benjamin Chilkevitch, wholesale clothier [15]
47 Rowing Engineering Co Ltd [16]
48 Aaron Joseph, grindery dealer [16]
49 David Jacobs, coffee rooms
... here is Chigwell Hill ...
51 Old Rose, George Charles Richard Hurst
54 Mrs Mary Ann Tobin, beer retailer [no pub name given]
55 Sidney Herbert Nye, veterinary surgeon [17]
57 Simon Simkavitch, tailor
59 Harris Rivkoff, boot dealer
60 Sam Goldstein, tailor
62 Lewis Levy, furniture dealer
63A Morris Blindt, hairdresser
64 Lazarus Pater, rag dealer
65 Jacob Glasstone, chandlers shop
67 Samuel Brickman, greengrocer
... here is Old Gravel Lane ...
[right - 69-76 in 1938]
69 Lazarus Freedman, boot repairer
70 Simon Metzger, grocer
72 John Henry Hawkins, boot sole sewer
72 Abraham Atlas, tobacconist
75 Solomon Schwartz, iron & tinplate worker
76 James William Brand, coffee rooms
77 Marks Newman, tailor
78 Yeatman & Co Ltd, manufacturing confectioners [13]
79-82 or 83 (& 111) Dickson & Head Ltd, glass merchants [2]
... here is Seven Star Alley ...
84 Miss Bridget Mary Hayes, newsagent
85 & 86 John Palmer & Sons Ltd, japanners
... here is Star & Garter Yard ...
87 J Corb & Son, rag merchants [18]
88 D Woolfovitch & Son, boot manufacturers [19]
90 Davis Phillips, chandlers shop
96 & 97 Wright & Son Ltd, biscuit manufacturers [20]
  ... here are Shadwell High Street, West Gardens & Dellow Street ...

[1] Charles Dickens Jnr's Dictionary of London (1879), in the section on common lodging houses regulated under Lord Shaftesbury's Acts of 1851 and 1853, notes

About the best sample of this kind of establishment extant will be found at St. George's chambers, St. George's-street, London-docks (vulgo, Ratcliff-highway), a thorough poor man's hotel where a comfortable bed with use of sitting-room, cooking apparatus and fire, and laundry accommodation, soap included, can be had for 4d. a night, all kinds of provisions being obtainable in the bar at proportionate rates. To any one interested in the condition of the London poor, this establishment is well worth a journey to the East-end to visit.

106-107 is listed on Goad's 1887 map [above] as 'St George's Chambers'. Right is a lodging-house room c1910.
The Oylers had owned 'Edinburgh Chambers', a common lodging house at 9-10 Dorset Street in Spitalfields (accommodating 197 men in 1881 and 180 in 1891), and in in the 1915 Post Office Directory were listed as lodging house keepers not only of 106-107 St George's Street but of premises in Poplar High Street - 'St James' Chambers' at nos.203-207 and as bakers, owners of the East London Cake Company at no.201.

At an earlier stage in their career they were successful defendants in an intriguing legal case, Trustees of St. Saviour's Rectory and Oyler (1886), 31 Ch. D. 412. The Cross Bones Burial Ground in Southwark [now Redcross Way] was an ancient unconsecrated burial ground for single women - i.e. prostitutes, known as Winchester Geese because from 1161 to the 17th century the Bishop of Winchester (in whose diocese Southwark then fell - its largest city) had licensed their activities by Royal Ordinance to work in the Liberty of the Clink, where activities banned within the City flourished. By the 18th century it had become a burial ground for paupers and the Irish poor, with over 15,000 burials, and became very insanitary - see George Walker's 1839 Gatherings from Graveyards for the gruseome details and the parish vestry's mercenary plan to re-use part of it. It was finally closed by Order in Council in 1853. A local Act of Parliament, the St Saviour's Southwark (Church Rate Abolition Act) 1883, transferred ownership from the wardens and gave new trustees title to the land; they advertised it for sale, stating that although it was indeed a former burial ground, it had since been occupied by a contractor, and was specially suited for a builders' or timber yard. Thomas and George Olyer signed a contract, paying a deposit of £230 on the £2300 purchase price. However, the Disused Burial Grounds Act 1884 had come into force, s3 of which provided After the passing of this Act is shall not be lawful to erect any buildings upon any disused burial ground, except for the purpose of enlarging a church, chapel meeting-house, or any other place of worship, though s5 made an exception for any burial ground sold or disposed of under the authority of an Act of Parliament. The Oylers refused to complete, because of this uncertainty (and there were also local objections, led by Lord Brabazon, who wrote to The Times with a view to save this ground from such desecration, and to retain it as an open space for the use and enjoyment of the people). The first court held in the trustees' favour, arguing that they had made the position clear, and that s5 applied to a disposal under the 1883 local Act. But in the High Court Vice-Chancellor Bacon ruled that s5 only applied to a disposal made before the Disused Burial Grounds Act came into force. (North J dissented on this point, and later cases - of which there have been many - followed his interpretation.) So the contract could not be enforced, and costs were awarded against the trustees. Part of the site was later sold by auction to the District Railway Company in 1892, and fairs were held on the rest of the site. In more recent times, further attempts to build have been made, which have been strongly resisted by local people, apparently with support from the Mayor of London; though concreted over, it has become a focus for Hallowe'en and other secular/pagan rituals for 'The Outcast Dead', detailed here, and the railings are permanently festooned with ribbons, with a small figure of the Virgin Mary and porcelain and wooden geese [right] set within. The Museum of London Archaeology service excavated the site between 1991-98, in connection with the building of the Jubilee line - many of photos here, graphically showing the diseased state of the human remains.

[2] Dickson & Head were also described as glass and lead pipe merchants and as glass benders and blowers. Thomas Dickson was the father-in-law and employer of Gustav Degerlund, whose family were closely associated with St George-in-the-East. The Medical Times & Gazette reported in 1881 An example worthy of imitation has been set by Messrs. Dickson and Head, of St. George-street, E. They have just forwarded contributions (the result of collections made In boxes fixed in their counting-house) to the following institutions:- Five guineas to the London Hospital, four guineas to the East London Hospital for Children, four guineas to the Victoria-park Hospital, and four guineas to the Poplar Hospital for Accidents - making in all seventeen guineas. In 1918 the Board of Trade licensed the firm under the Non-Ferrous Metal Industry Act of that year; but the company was voluntarily wound up in 1924.

[3]  Nathan Bloom (b.1907) became the managing director of Bloom & Phillips, and lived at Heathway Court, Finchley; he was a member of various professional bodies. In 1952 the firm, described as ladies' shoe manufacturers, with their head office at 87-98 Aldgate High Street, went into liquidation, and he was declared bankrput seven years later.

[4] The Half Moon and Seven Stars was long-established; along with other pubs in the first half of the 19th century, it was a recruiting base for ships' crews: here is a placard from 1816:

Who would enter for a small craft? whilst the Leander, the finest and fastest sailing frigate in the world, with a good spar deck overhead to keep you dry, warm, and comfortable; and a lower deck like a barn, where you may play at leap-frog when the hammocks are hung up; has room for 100 active, smart seamen, and a dozen stout lads for royal yard men. This wacking [sic] double-banked frigate is fitting at Woolwich to be flagship on the fine, healthy, full-bellied Halifax station, where you may get a bushel of potatoes for a shilling, a cod-fish for a biscuit, and a glass of boatswain's grog for twopence. The officers' cabins are building on the main deck, on purpose to give every tar a double berth below. Lots of leave on shore; dancing and fiddling on board; and 4 lbs. of tobacco served out every month. A few strapping fellows, who would eat an enemy alive, wanted for the admiral's barge. The officers already appointed are Captain Skipsey, late Maidstone; Lieutenant J. P. Baker, late Royal Sovereign, Rippon and Barham, H. Walker, late Courageaux, and Menelaus; J. S. Dixon, late Caledonia and San Joseph; A.P. Le Neve, late Maidstone; E. A. Haughton, late St Lawrence, and Princess Charlotte (on the Lakes), who will give every encouragement to their old shipmates. Every good man is almost certain of being made a warrant officer, or getting a snug berth in Halifax dockyard. All brave volunteers whom this may suit must bear a hand, and apply either on board the Leander, at Woolwich; at her rendezvous, the Half Moon and Seven Stars, Ratcliffe Highway, nearly opposite Old Gravel Lane; on board the Enterprise, off the Tower; or at any other general rendezvous in the kingdom, from whence they will be immediately forwarded to the Leander].
God save the King !!
The Leander, and a full-bellied station !!! 
This Leander was the second of six vessels to bear this name, and built in somewhat old-fashioned style. Here are details of her military service.

[5] By 1855 J. Dodsworth had set up business as a printer at 52 Cannon Street Road; the family were supporters of the British & Foreign Bible Society (as it was then known), and their Christian commitment is reflected in some of the material they printed down the years. By the 1890s they had moved to more commodious premises at 127 and 127a Ratcliff Highway, where as steam printers they produced material for the Revd Peter Thompson, including, for instance, his 96-page London Wesleyan Mission (East) Record of Work, with facts and incidents for 1892-93. Other publications from this period included W. Grey's pamphlet The West Indies: A Paper Read at the Annual Festival of the Dorchester Missionary College (1884) and John T. Medhurst Rules and Hints for Beginners and Elementary Students: Being Notes of Lectures Delivered at the City of London College (a 44 page booklet on book-keeping, 1888). In an article about W.H. Amery, who had served his apprenticeship as a compositor and printer with Dodsworths and went on to run letterpress classes at the Aldenham Institute, the British Printer of 1898 said that they may be aptly described as a highly respected firm of printers and stationers doing a general commercial business. As part of their wider business, the supplied pen nibs for Post Office use [left, c1910]. Among later publications were Willis MacNichol A Key to the Mysteries of Divination (1924) and in the 1920s the Cornish Annual Tre, Pol and Pen [right] and the Grocer's Year Book: The Standard Book of Reference for the Grocery and Allied Trades. The firm went into voluntary liquidation in 1932.

[6] Crompton & Thompson were one of several such firms locally, who supplied outdoor equipment to military and civilian groups - another was John Smith of East Smithfield and Cable Street. In 1906 T.A.H. Crompton was co-patentee of a folding table for military and other purposes.

[7] Andrew & George Galley
: Italian-born looking-glass makers, manufacturers or frame makers surnamed Galli or Gall(e)y - from the Roman name for Gaul, or the town south of Milan, and maybe from the Veneto, famous for glass-blowing - settled in London in the mid-19th century, among them Andrew (born c.1806) and George (born c.1816, who may have arrived on an Austrian passport in 1836, when Venice was part of the Hapsburg Empire).

[8] Wernick's had various shops around the area - right are Spitalfields and (next to a synagogue entrance) Bethnal Green in latter years.

[9]  Middleton Bros., one of the first local companies to install the telephone (no.5308), continued in business as oil merchants and refiners, manufacturer of white lead, paints and varnishes until the 1970s (their address became 36 The Highway), when St George's Estate was built.

[10] The origins of the SCFS are summarised here. Their premises were a former sugar warehouse immediately opposite the Docks entrance; in addition to the chapel and reading room, they had run an educational institute, with weekly lectures on various subjects, and gave temporary support. George John Hill was the secretary for 60 years from 1886, succeeding his father George Teil Hill who had been a colleague of 'Bo'sun' Smith.

[11] See here for details of the career of J.D. Hamlyn, near-neighbour of Jamrachs (who by this time had ceased trading).

[12] Caney & Briggs were also listed as chemists and druggists; a Sikes hydrometer of around 1900, with brass float, weights, thermometer and rules, in a mahogany case labelled 'Caney & Briggs, London', was sold at auction a few years ago. Bartholomew Sikes' instrument was the industry-standard equipment for determining the strength of spirits, providing an accurate method of determing alcohol proof, strength and percentages from 1816 to 1907, and continued in use until more recent times.

[13] The 1889 Horseflesh Act decreed
On and after the 29th September 1889, it will be unlawful for any one to sell, offer, expose, or keep for sale any horse-flesh for human food elsewhere than in a shop, stall, or place, over or upon which there shall be at all times painted, posted, or placed, in legible characters of not less than four inches in length, and in a conspicuous position, and so as to be visible throughout the whole time, whether by night or day, during which such horse-flesh is being offered for sale, words indicating that horse-flesh is sold there.
And no one is to supply horse-flesh for human food, to any purchaser who has asked to be supplied with some meat other than horse-flesh, or with some compound article of food which is not ordinarily made of horse-flesh. For the purposes of the Act, the term 'horse-flesh' is to include the flesh of asses and mules, and shall mean horse-flesh, cooked or uncooked, alone, or accompanied by, or mixed with any other substance.
This was motivated not so much by ahorrence of eating horsemeat as by public health concerns and the establishment of inspection regimes, and was one of many similar pieces of late-Victorian regulatory legislation (another act covered margarine) - though it failed to address the slaughtering of decrepit animals in knackers' yards. Increasingly horseflesh was for pet rather than human consumption, though during the First Word War 'Belgian butchers' appeared. By the 1920s 'horseflesh sold here' signs were disappearing, but the trade lingered on, in separate rather than standard butchers' shops. It was not rationed during the Second World War, though sellers had to be licensed; the meat could not be sold on the bone.  2013 has re-awakened these issues!

[14] Yeble Press was the box-making department of Yeatman & Co Ltd, of Denmark Street and 78 St George's Street - see here for more details about this firm.

[15] Benjamin Chilkevitch (1874/9-1962) and his wife Leah (d.1968) were born in Russia. When he took the oath of allegiance in August 1916 - a critical time for what the 1870 Naturalisation Act termed 'aliens' - he was described as a trousers and knickers manufacturer, at the St George's Street address. He was in partnership with Becky Solodofsky as clothiers and outfitters, running Walworth Clothing Stores at 188 and 188a Walworth Road, SE, until 1926. Three people with the same surname died in London - Gertie in 1924, Joseph in 1935 and Woolf in 1990: were they their children?

[16] The Rowing Engineering Company were bakery engineers; the company was dissolved in 1939. Their blitzed premises are shown right in 1943, next to the successors of Aaron Joseph & Son (as his grindery had become). Until about 1900, these had been the premises of Herbert and Sons, scalemakers - more information, and a photo from c1870, here.

Nothing is known of the professional life of Sidney Herbert Nye, but he had been in the High Court over his administration of a family trust, of which his wife Harriet Mary Nye and sister-in-law Ann Hannah Jennings, and their children on reaching 21 (and marrying, in the case of daughters) were the beneficiaries. He had been one of three trustees. One resigned, and on the death of the other (John Harris Pringle, no relation of the subsequent Rector of St George-in-the-East) Nye appointed in his place, without consulting Ann, a member of the firm of solicitors who handled the trust. There had long been disagreements over the distribution of income - Ann wanting more for her two infant children's education - and the court had produced a scheme; but she objected to the appointment of the replacement trustee, not for any personal reasons but because of a conflict of interest, since his role was to act on instructions. Astbury J ruled that he was a fit person to be a trustee and should not be removed, even though the court did not consider such appointments desirable. So presumably the conflicts continued! The case is reported as Re Cotter; Jennings v. Nye [1915] 1 Ch. 307.

[18] J. Corb & Son: Moses Korbaum (c1861-1925) came from Poland with his wife Gietal and anglicised his name to Morris Korb. He was a rag merchant at 461 Mile End Road, and went bankrupt (paying a dividend of 1½d. in the £) in 1901, next living at Grove Road, and resuming trading. They had 10 daughters and a son. What relation kept the St George's Street premises?

[19] This is probably the David Woolfovitch (1870s-1956), a cobbler by trade, who was the first of his extended family to arrive in East London from Lithuania in 1895, with his sister Sarah, before others joined him. He married Blanch, and they had three sons and three daughters. David's sister Mary and her husband ran shoe shops in Watney Street. David prospered, and bought into cinemas, and set up a leather factory. According to a family website, he set up several shtetels (Jewish prayer houses) in the area, and helped new immigrants with the authorities by taking members of the police to the pub for a drink.

[20] The small firm of Wright & Son established itself selling tins of biscuits, and also a cheddar sandwich biscuit - 'a meal for a penny'. The 'son' of the title was T.R. Wright, who had a sharp marketing mind. In the Jewish East End, shops sold out before Passover. One Passover, as soon as the sun had set marking its conclusion, Wright sent his vans around the area; one traveller alone sold £300 of goods, and next day their competitors found all the shops fully stocked. The firm merged with locally-based Meredith and Drew in 1905 - see here for more details - but Wright & Son remained as a subsidiary title to preserve goodwill, and Wright became a dynamic managing director. In 1967 it became part of United Biscuits; mergers and takeovers have continued in the trade ever since.

Left is no.211 in 1943 after bomb damage, and two images of no.210 in 1953. Right are nos.201-207 in the same year, on the site now occupied by St George's Pools. The entrance to Harris Terrace can be seen to the right of Stratton's glassware factory - one of the few courts that had survived.

Back to Ratcliff Highway  |  Back to East Smithfield