Backchurch Lane

Backchurch Lane (Church Lane until the 1860s), running south from Commercial Road to Cable Street, became the boundary between the parishes of St Mark Whitechapel and St John the Evangelist-in-the-East Grove [Golding] Street. The area was densely populated, with a mix of industrial and residential properties, with dangers to match. Further details of the area which became St John's parish are here.

Fires and Explosions

A fearful explosion occurred on the premises known as the Patent Saw Mills, situated in Back Church Lane, Commercial Road East, one of the most densely crowded districts of London.

These premises were divided into several compartments, each fitted up with most costly machinery. A little to the left of these compartments stood the steam-boiler house, in which were deposited two boilers, one about 12-horse and the other between 8 and 9-horse power. The latter of these, which had been in use some time, was at work, and although it was observed to move sluggishly, no danger was apprehended; but between 10 and 11 o'clock in the forenoon a tremendous explosion occurred, which threw the whole neighbourhood into dismay.

For the space of half a minute after the explosion happened, nothing but a dense mass of steam and dust could be seen, which ascended so high as to darken the neighbourhood in the immediate vicinity of the premises. The instant the steam and dust in some measure began to clear away, a shower of timber, bricks, and portions of heavy machinery fell. Large piles of wood were seen flying in every direction, which, as they fell upon the house-tops, either forced in the roofs or demolished the back or side walls. At the same time one of the boilers, weighing many tons, was lifted from its bearings, and thrown a long distance from its original position; the other was rent in pieces, and one part, weighing nearly two tons, was forced high into the air, and, after travelling a distance of 100 feet, fell into the back yard, striking in its descent the large premises used as counting-houses and offices, forcing in the windows, and partially destroying the front walls. The crash was tremendous, and at the same instant the school-house in Charles Street was partially blown down; two or three houses adjoining had their roofs and back fronts stove in, and an iron tank, weighing upwards of a ton, was driven by the force of the explosion some distance above the house-tops, and falling upon the roof of the mill, broke through and settled amongst the machinery.

The devastation was carried far beyond the property. An aged man passing along the road was struck by a piece of iron, which broke both his legs, and he was obliged to be carried to the London Hospital. A boy passing through Church Lane had his arm fractured by the falling of a large piece of brickwork. Mrs. Young was buried in the ruins, and very severely scalded, and otherwise greatly injured. Mrs. Bailey, residing in the same street, who was looking out of the window at the time of the explosion, received so great a shock that she died on the following morning.
A note on the development of firefighting in London
The first commercially-successful fire engine was patented by Richard Newsham in 1725, and many were made in different sizes (Buckingham Palace had once of the largest), and Newsham and Rags (his cousin) was established at 18 New Street, Cloth Fair, West Smithfield. They sold around the country and were even exported to the United States. Around 1750 he was bought out by John and Margaret Bristow (John was a churchwarden at St George-in-the-East in 1784), and production continued in Ratcliff Highway until 1831 - their story is told here.

Before 1833 there was no co-ordinated system, and no trained firefighters. The 300 parish engines were under the control of often elderly beadles, and the insurance companies had their own equipment. Saving property rather than people was the priority. The Royal Society for the Protection of Life from Fire, founded in 1828, sought to address this by providing fire ladders in streets, and attending fires to give assistance to individuals at risk.

The London Fire Brigade (originally the 'London Fire-engine Establishment') was created in 1833 by ten insurance companies working together, the Sun Fire Office taking the lead. The first Superintendent was James Braidwood (1800-61) [right], formerly of Edinburgh, where within weeks of his appointment at the age of 23 dealt with the Great Fire of Edinburgh. In his second year in London he faced the major fire at the Houses of Parliament.

He lived 'over the shop' at Watling Street, and throughout his career saw through many detailed improvements to structures, apparatus, training and reporting of fires, detailed in his book Fire Prevention and Fire Extinction (Bell and Daldy 1866 - cover right). This was published posthumously - he died attending the huge fire at Cotton's Wharf, Tooley Street in 1861. In 1866 the Metropolitan Board of Works assumed control of the fire service from the insurance companies, fulfilling one of his hopes; the Metropolitan Fire Brigade became the London Fire Brigade in 1904. Left is its first motorised fire engine in 1902.



Backchurch Lane was also a place where entrepreneurs and men of science lived and worked. Here are some examples.

20,629. The humble Petition of the undersigned, John Fell Christy, of the borough of Lambeth, glass manufacturer; John Harvey, of Ludgate Street, in the city of London, merchant; George Rahn, of the Crescent, Minories, in London aforesaid, merchant; and Charles Speare Tosswill, of Budge Row, in London aforesaid, typographer, as Proprietors of the Patent Fire-Preventive Cement,
That your Petitioners are the chief owners of a certain mode of manufacturing a cement or plaster which is fire-proof, and which renders all buildings encrusted with it, and exposed to the action of fire, likewise fire-proof.
That great and alarming fires and conflagrations have recently taken place, whereby many lives have been lost, and an immense amount of property has been destroyed, all of which might have been prevented had this fire-proof cement been used as the plaster of the respective buildings.
That the two Houses of Parliament, the Tower of London, the Royal Exchange, the city of Hamburgh, and various large mills and manufactories in Lancashire and elsewhere, have fallen a prey to the flames, within a very short period.
That experiments have taken place in London and Manchester by buildings being exposed to a much more powerful fire than any that ordinarily takes place, without in the least penetrating beyond this cement; certificates of which fact have been made by many magistrates, architects, surveyors, manufacturers, and other respectable persons.
That several eminent architects, surveyors, and engineers, have employed this cement, including Mr. Charles Barry, R.A., Major Jebb, R.E., Captain Brandreth, R.E., Mr. Field, Mr. Allison, Mr. Stevens, and Mr. J. B. Shepherd. That such cement has been used under the superintendence of the Lords Commissioners of Woods and Forests in the New Model Prison of Pentonville, in the Victualling Yard Deptford, in the Royal College of Surgeons, in the British and Foreign Schools, at Saint Thomas's Hospital, at Woburn Abbey, at the Phoenix Gas Works, and other places.
That your Petitioners will be most happy to present to the Legislature, your honourable House, or Government, such a quantity of this cement as may be required to make the new House of Parliament fire-proof, without any profit whatever.
Your Petitioners humbly solicit that your honourable House will be pleased to enquire into the truth of these allegations; to accept the offer of sufficient of the cement to make the new Houses of Parliament fire-proof, and to take such steps in the premises as to your honourable House shall seem just, wise, and expedient.
And your Petitioners shall ever pray.
Jno. F. Christy - John Harvey -  George Rahn - Chas. S. Tosswill.

        In 1839 inventor of the electro-magnet William Sturgeon's Annals of Electricity, Magnetism and Chemistry included this letter from Henley:
I take the liberty to introduce to the numerous readers of the Annals of Electricity, &c. an Electro-Magnetic Machine, differing materially from the common description of that Instrument, viz:—The method of breaking battery contact, &c. Fig. 2 represents the Machine consisting of primary and secondary coil A. and B. a cross of soft Iron, not covered, which rotates between two pieces of Iron C. C. passing through the sides of the bobbin A. so as to be in contact with the iron wires in the axis. D and E are two copper wires carrying the current which press upon the break-piece F. into which there is a piece of Ivory inserted for breaking contact. Upon, making connection with the battery, the cross B. commences rotating rapidly, and, on placing a finger on each of the conductors F. F., a succession of shocks are felt, more violent than from any machine that I have as yet constructed. When the toothed wheel and spring are used, the stud G. cuts off the current from the wires D. andE. oil moving the stud H. the conductors are disconnected from the secondary, and no shock is felt. F. is a platform, with two binding screws for connecting a voltameter, platina, wire, &c &c. .....

Should you think the enclosed worthy of a place in your Annals, the insertion of the same will greatly oblige,
Sir, Your most obedient and very humble servant,
Philosophical Instrument Maker,
25, Back Church Lane, Commercial Road, East.
19th. November, 1839.

Burial grounds
Roque's map of 1746 shows the area on the north west of Church [Backchurch] Lane as a market garden. By the turn of the century the first edition of Horwood's map shows an enclosed area of about half an acre, and the 1813/14 revision - right - marks it as a burial ground, with a small chapel on the northern edge, off  White Horse Lane [later Commercial Road] marked for the first time on Greenwood's map of 1824-26; the earliest dated headstone from excavations in the area is dated 1776. It was one of various private non-denominational burial grounds established as speculative ventures as parish churchyards became overcrowded and the population grew dramatically. It was acquired in the 1830s by Samuel Sheen, an undertaker who kept a public house opposite. He has planted it with trees and shrubs, which are sufficiently attractive, but the ground is saturated with human putrescence, wrote George Walker in Gatherings from Graveyards (1839). An 1838 pamphlet noted that Sheen charged between 8s. and 15s. for an adult interment - somewhat less than parish church burials, at least for non-parishioners (compare the 1840 fees at St George's).

Samuel was the son of Thomas Sheen, of Wellclose Square, and formerly of Leman Street, furnishing undertakers (i.e. local carpenters who made coffins and supplied other grave requisites). Their partnership was dissolved in 1823, though in 1821 Samuel had been insured as a cook, of 2 Little Hermitage Street, Wapping. Thomas died in 1825 a wealthy man, leaving 19 freehold tenements (13 locally, the others in Hoxton) to his family, and his stock in trade and tools to his wife Ann for life and then to Samuel.

In 1826 John Peachey, aged 30, was imprisoned for three months for 'grand larceny' - the theft of a chair, value 8s., from outside the door of Sheen's house in Leman Street when he went into the parlour to light his pipe.  The Spectator of 26 Sept 1843 reported this incident:
At the Thames Police-office on Saturday another 'burial ground' case was heard.  The exposure was the result of a quarrel between two rival undertakers. The facts are these. Samuel Sheen, besides being an undertaker, is the proprietor of a private place of interment called 'Sheen's Cemetery'.  William Jeffryes, coffin maker and furnishing-undertaker, in the course of business, conducted the funeral of a child which was to be buried at Sheen's cemetery. The ground had been selected, and the dues paid: but when the funeral party arrived on Tuesday last week, the gates of the cemetery were locked. Admission was obtained through Sheen's house; and it was then discovered that no grave had been dug nor other preparations made. Sheen was absent from home. The coffin was therefore deposited in a grave prepared for an adult; and the funeral service was read by Jeffryes at the request of the mourners. On returning home, Sheen was very angry; he proceeded to Jeffryes' house in Leman Street, and there he uttered much personal abuse, with threats of violence. The defence was that Jeffryes had brought the coffin to annoy his rival; that Sheen was excited when he went to the other house; that Jeffryes then called him a rascal, and threatened to expose his cemetery as a nuisance; and that he thereupon did somewhat forget himself. The defendant was fined 10s. and costs.

As explained here in relation to the parish church, the 1852 Metropolitan Burial Act caused the closuse of many London cemeteries on public health grounds; Sheen's ground was listed in the 1855 Post Office Directory but not in 1857, suggesting he had closed it during this period - presumably at some financial loss. He then bought property in Norwood and converted the Queen's Arms public house into a tavern with tea gardens, but the Crystal Palace company appeared to have had the monopoly of refreshments in the area and Sheen went bankrupt in 1856.

Stanford's 1862 map, which still delineates the burial ground, shows a Congregational Chapel on the site (but it doesn't fit with any of those described here); no chapel appears on Weller's map of 1868, presumably because the building of the western end of the Commercial Road had begun. Mrs Basil Holmes in The London Burial Grounds (1896/7) reports that the burial ground was used as a cooperage, and then became Fairclough's yard, and was filled with carts and sheds - including a new stable built in 1894, the London County Council having declined to forbid its erection. The site was excavated in 2006-07 (following an archaelogical report):  258 'contexted' burials were revealed in 50% of the site (with much disarticulated bone), and the rest was cleared by an exhumation company.  Most burials were in wooden coffins, and there were three brick vaults; all inscriptions were recorded, including part of a stone marked The family grave of George and Anna Gregory of Church Lane.

There was another burial ground at the southern end of Backchurch Lane originally known as Cain's burial ground - advertised in The Times 1802 - and then Mr Brittain's [or Britton's] burial ground. This was used by the Little Alie Street Baptists, and was also the site of a Lascar burial described here. See further Bruce Watson The burial grounds of Backchurch Lane, Whitechapel (1994).

See here for details of a short-lived mission chapel, St Clement's, which the curate of St Mark's established at no.69 Backchurch Lane in 1866.

A squalid place
There are various damning accounts of the area around Backchurch Lane from the second half of the 19th century; the page on St John's parish gives examples, but here is one directly related to the street, where James Greenwood Unsentimental Journeys, or By-ways of the modern Babylon (Ward & Lock 1867) comments on a particular local trade:

This universal fish-frying is the key to another mystery common to the neighbourhood. In every 'general shop', in every rag and bone shop, in the high street, and in the hundred courts and filthy alleys that worm in and out of it, may be seen solid slabs of a tallowy-looking substance, and marked with a figure 6, 7, or 8, denoting that for as many pence a pound weight of the suspicious-looking slab may be obtained. It is bought in considerable quantities by the fish-eaters for frying purposes, and is by them supposed to be simply and purely the fat dripping of roast and baked meats, supplied to these shops by cooks, whose perquisite it is. This, however is a delusion. The villainous compound is manufactured. There is a 'dripping-maker' near Seabright-street, Bethnal-green, and another in Backchurch-lane, Whitechapel, both flourishing men, and the owners of many carts and sleek cattle. Mutton suet and boiled rice are the chief ingredients used in the manufacture of the slabs, the gravy of bullocks' kidneys being stirred into the mess when it is half cold, giving to the whole a mottled and natural appearance...

Left are two 1909 views of Backchurch Lane. On the corner of Backchurch Lane and Batty's Gardens was the stable yard of T. Venables & Sons (shown on Goad's 1899 insurance map right). They were large-scale drapers and furnishers, at 103-115 Whitechapel High Street and 2-8 Commercial Street. This was one of the noted East End emporia, rivalling those of the West End, established in the 1840s and 1850s. Over the years partnerships within and beyond the family had come and gone. William and Thomas, silk mercers and haberdashers, had separated in 1830; William continued as a draper in Lamb's Conduit Street, but went bankrupt four years later, and Thomas continued at 103 Whitechapel High Street. (In 1839 Ann Nowlan, a woman of 40 with six fatherless children, and her 19-year old daughter Mary Ann Nowlan were transported for seven years for the theft of 23¾ yards of silk serge, value £3, from the store.) Thomas, John and Robert's partnership as linen drapers of 34 Aldgate High Street was dissolved in 1854. By 1858 Charles, with his father and brother, was employing 32 young men at the Whitechapel store (in another Old Bailey case of that year, one of his staff, John Carter, was sentenced to four years' penal servitude for embezzlement.) Thomas Glascott left partnership with Charles in 1878; in 1884 John Venables May, formerly part of the firm and then a dealer in cotton and wollen fabrics in Cheapside, and a skirt and costume manufacturer in Bow Common, was declared bankrupt. In 1888 they bought out R & E Plumpton in Whitechapel Road. In 1892 it became a limited liability company, all the shares taken by Charles Venables and his managers Mr Bye and Mr Thomas. They went into voluntary liquidation in 1929. Their business was part of the local scene. When the Queen visited the East End in 1876 it was reported that the establishment was tastefully decorated with flags and shields.  In the 1870s, St Paul's School was one of many local schools to which they supplied special lined calico for school needlework lessons (standards 5-7), scissor cuts marked with a black line.

The People's Arcade was built at the top of Backchurch Lane around 1906 on the site of a former fish market, and was a centre of immigrant life and activity. When licensed in 1910, it had a seating capacity of 748. In 1918 it showed a Yiddish version of a silent film about the Russian Revolution, Di Royz fun Blut (The Rose of Blood); the film is presumed lost, but as one reviewer said, Theda Bara played a spy who wrecks hearts, railroad trains, slays one after another and concludes the fifth reel by blowing up the peace cabinet, which includes her husband.

In December 1911 it was renamed Premierland ('Pree-mier-land') and it incorporated a boxing ring, where many East End boxers began their careers, many of them Jewish (among them Ted 'Kid' Lewis at the opening match, and Jack 'Kid' Berg). In 1924 Victor Berliner [left] and Manny Lyttlestone presided over its most successful era. A 1920's boxing boom meant there were three or four shows a week. The crowds were a mix of Jewish and Irish immigrants and native cockneys: mostly men who worked as dockers, barrow boys or street traders at nearby Petticoat Lane. Some contestants were current or ex-professional boxers, and generally those who weren't had at least boxed for boys' clubs. As well as Lewis and Berg, Teddy Baldock, Kid Pattenden, Harry Mason, Nipper Pat Daly and Dick and Harry Corbett were big stars. Former fighter Jack Hart was the house referee for much of the period, mostly officiating from outside the ring. Right is a 1929 poster and a photo of a 1930 bout, where Whitechapel-born Al Forman (aka Bert 'Kid' Harris') - who boxed extensively in the USA, Canada and Australia - defeated Fred Webster of Kentish Town to take the lightweight championship. Cannily, Forman promoted the fight, and booked the venue, himself.

By this date, when most boxing venues had become grander in style and scale, it had become dilapidated, and a High Court case T.M. Fairclough & Sons v Berliner [1931] 1 Ch 60 determined that the owners of the property were entitled to relief. (It turned on technical issues of joint tenancy, under the recent 1925 Law of Property Act, and so was frequently cited in the following years.) In due course it became a garage for Fairclough's motor vehicles - see here for the story of this firm: 75 years earlier Thomas Morrison Fairclough has been churchwarden of the parish (descendants recently visited the church). In the 1960s, a New Premierland boxing venue was based at Poplar Baths;  the old building later became a warehouse [right  - entrance in 1987, with inscription 'People's Palace' still visible; inside around the same time].

Charles Kinloch & Co, Backchurch Lane
Charles Kinloch (1828-97) was the youngest child of Captain Charles Kinloch of Gourdie (who had served with the 52nd Regiment in the Peninsular War); he attended Edinburgh Academy and the University of Bonn. He married Harriet Kingston, relative of a well-known children's author. He established a firm of wine and spirits dealers in 1861; the following year they were advertising at the International Exhibition [left], with premises near Mansion House in the City [right].

In 1884, with premises at Backchurch Lane and also at 3 Queen Victoria Street, Thomas Mackay (1849-1912) left the partnership with Kinloch and George Scott. He was a cousin of Kinloch's father who was keen to be involved in social work but accepted advice to start in business. He was an unlikely city merchant, but made a substantial fortune, and retired to write on social questions and to work with the Charity Organisation Society. Henceforth Scott was the managing director until his death in 1893; he had homes at Eagle Villa, Queen's Road in Peckham and at Scott-Rea, Tully Powrie, Perthshire. Two years earlier the firm had been incorporated as Charles Kinloch & Co Ltd, wine, whisky and brandy merchants. In 1888 they advertised themselves as sole UK consignees of Bouvet-Ladubay, St. Hilaire-St. Florent & Epernay, growers and shippers of extra royal, sec and brut. But over the years perhaps their most distinctive product was dark Jamaica rum, which they sold as 'Liquid Sunshine' [labels left].

In 1894-5 a fine new warehouse by Hyman Henry Collins was completed. Note the details, including the carved in and out signs, set into coloured engineering bricks. The firm continued to expand, and pursue creditors - including in 1908 Max Sichel, a bankrupt wine and spirit merchant of Wolverhampton and in 1924 the owners of the unlikely-named Riviera Hotel, Maidenhead.

In 1937 they opened a new factory at Queensbury Road, Wembley [later Park Royal] in 'Modern Movement' style by E.E. Williams & E.G. Winbourne [left - RIBA image]. By 1950 they were supplying 4,000 lines of wines and spirits (including Southern Comfort) nationwide, and owned or part-owned four other companies. Even after they themselves were acquired by Courage and Barclay in 1957, this process continued, as they bought up five other firms as non-trading subsidiaries. In 1961, their centenary year, they produced a 42-page pamphlet The Taste of Kinloch, a handbook of wines and spirits based on the experience of 100 years (Pamela Joan Vandyke Price, published G. Street). The company was formally dissolved in 2008; its residual trading address is now Mercer and Hole, International Press Centre, Shoe Lane EC4.

In 1969 Robert Rayleigh & Co, of the Commercial Road, acquired 107 Backchurch Lane and 26/42 Gowers Walk for clients - 74,000 sq ft with footage of 150ft to Backchurch Lane. Collins' warehouse eventually became apartments in 1999, with glazed rooftop extensions, as shown left. Right is the building beside no.107, two views of the street in 1987 and one in 2000.

Footnote:  a relative from Scotland, Charles Walter Kinloch, studied at the East India College, Haileybury - founded by the Honourable East India Company in 1806 to train young gentlemen for clerkships in the overseas civil service (it was re-founded in 1862 as 'Haileybury and the Imperial Services College'). In 1828 he won prizes in law and Hindustani, and later joined the Bengal civil service, where he served as a collector, joint magistrate and compiler of statistical reports (e.g. of Futtehpore in 1851). He also published, under the name 'Bengal Civilian', Rambles in Java and the Straits in 1852 on travels to Penang, Singapore and Java [plate left] - he was recovering from ill-health and the original title was The Invalid Traveller; it is reprinted, and still referred to in guidebooks today. He also wrote about the Bengal mutiny and the 'Kaffir question' in South Africa. Back in Edinburgh, he produced two novels Robert Grierson (1874) and Leonard Scott (1875).

1921 Street Directory of Backchurch Lane
This list of commercial premises shows the mix of large warehouses and small ground-floor shops and businesses (in most cases with domestic accommodation above), as with other directories for the same year - The Highway, Cable Street, Leman Street and Commercial Road - the majority were Jewish-run. A 'chandler's shop' was a general 'corner shop', no longer specifically marine. Some details from the 1891 census are added in [square brackets] -  complicated by changes over the years in street numbering.

West Side
... here is Hooper Street ...
Kinloch Chas & Co Ltd, wine merchants
109 Harris Bach, egg merchant
111 Lewis Stepnitsky, tobacconist
111 Philip Herman, barrow lender
111 Yodiesh & Yuchetel, smiths [1]
113 Jacob Jancovitch, harness maker
119 Abraham Shusterman chandlers shop
      Robert Park & Co Ltd,
freight brokers (Arcade Works) [2]
      Premierland Ltd,
cinematograph theatre
149 Mrs Gezalla Herhowitz, dining rooms
151 Bryan Corcoran Ltd,
engineers [3]
Jacob Breiterman, fancy box maker
155 to 159 John West & Sons Ltd, brassfounder [4]
[unnamed public house, landlord John Latchall, at 155]
East Side
2 Nathan Limpan, dining rooms
... here is Pinchin Street ...
[16 Blacksmiths Arms Tavern [5]]
Browne & Eagle Limited, wool warehouse keepers
... here is Ellen Street ...
[48 picture shop in 1891]
[50 butcher in 1891]
[58 chandler's shop in 1891]
[62 chandler's shop in 1891]
[64 Prince of Wales, landlord William Pratt, in 1891]
Abraham Smith, tailor  [tailor in 1891]
68 Simon Gullovitch, confectioner  [dairy in 1891]
70 Morris Gershman, tailor  [draper in 1891]
72 John Grybus, beer retailer [6]
... here is Edward Street ...

74 Solomon Zuckerkandel, provision merchant [7]
78 Hagee Hoosin, refreshment rooms
[86 Coach & Horses - [8]]
... here is Boyd Street ...
Co-operative Wholesale Society Ltd
... here is Fairclough Street ...
120 Mrs Kate Bloom, chandlers shop
... here is Sander Street ...
128 Mrs Annie Yudkin, fried fish shop
130 Mrs Sarah Ginsberg, tobacconist

[1] This was formerly the site of the Cherry Tree public house (formerly no.54) - right in the 1880s, and the site (between the trees) in the 1990s - from at least 1839; Montagu Dolby, and then his wife Alice, were the last landlords. In 1883 Philip Garcia, a greengrocer aged 29, was charged along with others with passing counterfeit coins. Dolby said Garcia and Howard came to my house together and called for a pint of mild and bitter, and tendered me a shilling — I found it was bad, broke it in my teeth into two pieces, chucked the pieces on the counter, and Howard picked them up — Howard paid for the liquor with 3d. good money they are occasional customers. Garcia, who lived at Everard Street with his mother Esther, also tendered counterfeit coins at the Dog & Truck and Brewers' Arms in Backchurch Lane, George IV in Berners Street, the Lord Nelson in Fairclough Street and at half a dozen local shops. He was sentenced to 18 months hard labour.

[2] Robert Park & Co
's head offices were at 91-97 Clerkenwell Road EC1 (telegraph 'Deciphered, London'); they were freight brokers, shipping and insurance agents. In 1909 they had advertised with the Royal Auotomobile Club as motor car packers for the trade. They faced challenges in the law courts - in 1920, Robert Park & Co Ltd v. New Welding Co, and in 1922 in the High Court, before Sankey J, in Midland Rubber Co. v. Robert Park & Co. (1922) 11 Lloyds Law Reports 119 - a case turning on the terms of their bill of lading, when they were onward agents for supplying rubber tyres to Zurich.

[3] See here for an extensive account of the family business of Bryan Corcoran, based in Mark Lane throughout the 19th century, and for their connections with the church of St Olave Hart Street.
In 1863 Stephen Noakes, wine cooper and commission agent for the sale of wine, ale and stout, trading from this address was declared bankrupt; in 1884 the shop and parlour were leased by Stephen Beedham to Morris Witkoski and his son Henry Morris Witkoski who were convicted at the Old Bailey for fraudulenty ordering large quantities of fish from various Grimsby and Hull suppliers, delivered to Royal Mint Street station. George Pearson next door at 150 was a cat's-meat dealer.

[4] The West family had worked locally as brass (and copper) founders since the early 19th century; William West, who married Mary Bath in 1805, lived at 30 Haydon Square, Minories. Family baptisms (including four children together on one occasion), weddings and funerals were at St Mary Whitchael, Holy Trinity Minories or St Botolph Aldgate. His eldest son William Francis (1807-63) lived and worked at 58 Backchurch Lane. He married Elizabeth Newman, who bore two sons  and two daughters, and on her death he married Eleanor Newman, a widow from Southwark. In 1837 he subscribed £2,500 (out of a total estimated cost of £1.7m) towards a scheme for a London, Salisbury, Exeter, Plymouth and Falmouth Railway. Detailed plans for this line were drawn up by John Braithwaite in 1845, with various legal wrangles over the prospectus for the 'Direct London and Exeter Railway Company'. Whether or not as a consequence of this, in 1842 he found himself (sued and committed as 'William West the younger') in the Debtors' Prison.
In 1859 Joseph Ashton, William Irwin and Samuel Tuttlebee were tried at the Old Bailey for stealing a 15cwt inscribed Burmese bell, which hung on a yew tree in a mansion in Wanstead; West acquired it for 9½d. a lb. for melting down, and broke off a trial piece, but handed it to the police when they called. The three were acquitted.
His son William Francis (1829-63) married Sarah Stammers; by 1861 he was widowed, living with his son John Edward and daughter Elizabeth, a domestic servant and an apprentice at 76 Backchurch Lane, and employing 8 men. John married Elizabeth Welch; some of this generation emigrated to Australia. The firm eventually became John West & Sons Ltd, and moved to 155-159 Backchurch Lane (by which time no.58 housed German sugar bakers, a chanlder's store and a coal dealer). They undertook some architectural forging work, but went into voluntary liquidation in 1924.

[5] The original address of the Blacksmiths Arms Tavern, just north of the railway viaduct [1868 map shows Blacksmiths Arms Place] was no.16; in 1873 its licensee Eliza Moriarty, trading as 'Charles Fisher', was declared bankrupt. Its later address was 2 Pinchin Street (after Thomas Street was renamed); it had a German-born landlord Antioni Kelfer in the 1880s.

[6] This was the Dog and Truck. John Grybus was (probably) Russian; his son Charles Andrew, born 1890, later took over the tenancy. The pub was rebuilt in 1935, designed by William Stewart, to serve the Berner estate behind.

Solomon Zuckerkandel was declared bankrupt in 1922, and not discharged until 1946.

[8] In the 1850s the Coach & Horses was a 'sporting house', the support base of James (Jem) Pudney, a famous 'pedestrian' (as competitive runners were termed at that time): he was for a time a national champion, one of the few to run ten miles in just under an hour - though on occasions he, like other competitors, collapsed before completing. In 1857 Bell's Life in London ran this report:
This match, which has for a length of time past totally engrossed the attention and excited the speculation ot the patrons and supporters of pedestrianism, came off on Monday last at Garratt-lane, Wandsworth, in presence of a vast concourse of the lovers of that manly pastime. The competitors were both men who have acquired much celebrity in their respective localities, Pudney in London, Trainer in and about Liverpool and Manchester. Pudney has been for some time the holder of thc Champion's Belt as a10 mile runner, and it was supposed that he might risk his laurels were he to run for a shorter distance, his paramount qualities being those of stamina and endurance. He, nevertheless, boldly entered the lists on Monday last with the northern hero, and as the sequel proved, had no cause to regret his so doing. The weather, considering that it was the middle of November, was remarkably fine, the course in capital order, and everything conducted in tho fairest and most impartial manner.  The gentlemen from the north (much to our surprise) backed Trainer at 3 to 2, and ultimately were offering 2 to 1 on their pet, which made us suspect there was a "screw loose" somewhere, but on personally visiting on Pudney, and questioning him as to his state of health and condition, we felt assured this this was all "bounce". A referee having been appointed from our office, and all the preliminaries arranged at a few minutes after the appointed time (three o'clock), the men toed the scratch, and after about ten minutes' dodging for the start, got away, Trainer with a trifling load, which he maintained throughout the first and second Iaps; in the middle of the third lap, Pudney passed his man for a yard or two as if to feel his position and capabilities, and having ascertained the supremacy of both, drew back for a while, and let his opponent again take the lead. At the termination of the fourth Iap he was about a yard ahead, but, making a tremendous rush down the first stretch af the fifth lap, ere he had traversed it he left his adversary some twenty yards en arrière, when the latter, finding that he was altogether outpaced and outmatched, gave up the fruitless contest, Pudney from this out, going at his leisure. We did not time the pace throughout, but the first mile was done in something like 4min. 40sec. The winner can have the stakes by calling at our office next Thursday, at twelve o'clock. They will be duly presented to Pudney in the evening at his own house, the Coach and Horses, Back Church-lane, Commercial-road, where he wishes his backers and friends to attend.
J. Trainer wishes us to inform pedestrians that it will be useless for any one tn challenge him at present, as he seriously injured himself in this race.

Apparently bets could be laid using postage stamps. From 1863 Pudney ran the running ground at Bow, and here, from the runner H J Chinnery's recollections (in Sporting Life 1909) is an example of race-fixing:
My first remembrance of seeing any running was at the Hackney Wick ground, where the course was only a furlong. That was some forty-five years ago, and the occasion on which I made my acquaintance with it was a ten miles race, and a genuine one. A man named Pudney had a sort of school of runners with whom he used to tour the country. Among them was the Red Indian, Deerfoot, who was always allowed to win. In the troupe, however, there were at least two men who could lose him, one being White, of Gateshead, and the other C. Lang, vvhose nickname was the 'Crow-catcher'. For some reason or other White fell out with Pudney, and as a result of the disagreement White announced his intention of running on his own at Hackney Wick, and winning. Pudney said "You shall not do that, because Lang can beat you, and he shall go on his own." Deerfoot was ignored altogether. White was very fit indeed, and he ran the first seven miles round the small and awkward course in thirty-five minutes, with Lang in close attendance. At this point Lang fell completely exhausted, and White trotted on quite comfortably, and finished the ten miles in fifty-two minutes, Deerfoot being distanced by about three-quarters of a mile. That was my first experience of the running path.

In 1904 the issue of the Coach & Horses' licence went to the Court of Appeal before the Master of the Rolls (Sir Richard Henn Collins) and Stirling and Matthew LJJ,  reported as Chambers & others v Tower Magistrates [1904] 2 K.B. 903. The local licensing justices had refused a licence to R.H. Coborn (Chambers' employee) because his predecessor Joseph Arch had been convicted of selling spirits without a licence, and the pub was closed. All turned on the interpretation of previous Licensing Acts: licences of 'privileged pubs' (those which had been continuously in business since before the Act of 1869) could only be forfeited on four specific grounds - basically, for severe misconduct. Had the Coach and Horses forfeited this status because there was a break after Arch's removal (despite Coburn's attempt to get a temporary licence)? The Court of Appeal, overturning the ruling of the Divisional Court, said yes, and therefore the licensing justices had wider powers. This case was significant as it was just before the coming into force of a new Licensing Act which was to further tighten up the licensing laws, as the pamplet left explains.

Backchurch Lane today

Apartments; looking north; from the corner of Fairclough Street; more apartments; in the snow; and a new court, Conant Mews.

is another new court.  See here for Brown & Eagle's wool warehouse buildings, now The Woolhouse and New Loom House.
At 122-126 are the offices of Thames Reach, a homeless charity.

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