Cannon Street Road
   and nearby streets

The oddly-named Cannon Street Road (often confused postally with Cannon Street in the City, where the railway station is, though the designation precedes this) now runs north from The Highway to the Commercial Road. 19th century maps and documents show a variety of namings: some term the stretch between The Highway and Cable Street as 'Cannon Street', and everything north of it, up to Whitechapel Road, either '(The) New Road' or 'Cannon Street Road'. In 1859 it became 'Cannon Street Road' (later including the stretch from The Highway to Cable Street) up to the Commercial Road, once this was developed, and 'New Road' beyond. (To add to the confusion, part of Cable Street was for a time termed 'New Road'!) Before St Mary Cable Street became a separate parish in 1850 it ran more or less through the centre of the parish, but with the addition of St Paul Dock Street to the parish in 1971 and other boundary changes the street and parish are in the south-eastern quadrant of the present parish. Like the rest of the area, the street has seen many changes, and the numbering of houses has altered more than once, in the light of the above.

19th century
In the 1810-20s, being a main road, it was one of the more prosperous parts of the parish. The Revd Joseph Nightingale in London and Middlesex (1815) described Cannon Street [Road] as a double line of good houses. Only a few original houses remain [near the church, 26-42 and 46-52 are locally-listed; houses further up the street are much-modified]. Left is an undated photo of no.22, now gone.
Among references in the journals of the day to its middle class residents:
At the Guildhall Library are papers relating to those insured with the Sun Fire Office, among which are
plus many others from the courts and alleys and houses off Cannon Street Road. See here for details of the Corys, father and son, who were eminent doctors: Edward Augustus Cory lived at 7 Clark[e]'s Terrace, where earlier Andrew Reed had established his first orphanage.

There were many tradesmen:  In 1838 M. West, of Cannon Street Road, won the contract for building All Saints' Church, Mile End Old Town (in Spicer/Buxton Street - now demolished), with a tender of £4,095: the final cost was £4,693. The architect was Thomas Larkins Walker, of Bloomsbury (a pupil of Pugin - though here and elsewhere he mixed Gothic with Norman styles). The church was consecrated the following year, with funding from the Church Building Commissioners and the Metropolitan Church Fund. In 1840 W. Fordham of 37 Cannon Street Road advertised cheap stencilling for landlords and builders [right]. Henry Fitch, at 29½, was a cooper at around this time.

Radical politics
At 17 Langdale Street (west of Cannon Street Road, between William and John Streets) lived Thomas Heins, a radical and free-thinker, who in the 1830s opened up his house as a reading-room, library (which, he said, consists of the choicest political theological and co-operative works extant) and centre for the Society for Promoting Free Enquiry, with Sunday evening discussion groups on themes such as Whether would the establishment the republican principles of Thomas Paine, or the social system of Robert Owen, be most conducive to the happiness of a nation? and Is Religion of Divine or Human Origin? He wrote regularly for the radical journals of the time, including the Gauntlet, and The Man (a short-lived [1833-34) penny weekly published by R.E. Lee of Marylebone, described as a rational advocate for universal liberty, free discussion, and equality - it advocated the abolition of the monarchy and hereditary nobility). In July 1833 The Man published:
Whereas certain of our fellow citizens have discovered the cause of the miserable and degraded condition of Mankind, from which the whole of the evils of society proceed, to be ignorance: we, the members of the society for promoting free enquiry, in council assembled, beholding with regret the present state of things, and considering that our fellow citizens of the "Religions Tract and Missionary Societies", have laboured In vain although they have distributed thousands of tracts and travelled thousands of miles, as it appears to us, the human race is in a more miserable condition than ever, and daily getting worse; do declare the only remedy is Useful Knowledge; to be obtained by Free Discussion, assisted by reading and conversation; and we do hereby give notice, that we have established our society for mutual improvement, and have resolved to "prove all things", to assert and to "hold fast that which is good". We further give notice to all, both male and female, of every political and theological opinion whatever, that we meet every Sunday afternoon, from three o'clock till ten, for reading, conversation, and free discussion, at No. 17, Langdale-street, Cannon-street Road, St. George's East; that we have a good library of political, theological, and philosophical works, and that the Gauntlet, Cosmopolite, Poor Man's Guardian, Crisis, and Man, are regularly provided in the reading room; our terms of subscription being four-pence per month; also, that such of our fellow-citizens as may be willing to join our society, may do so, by applying as above, where a Catalogue of the Library, and a copy of the rules, may be seen.—Given at our Castle, St. George's East; Thomas Heins, Secretary of the whole Department.—N.B. Whigs, Tories, Radicals, Republicans, Socialists, Jews, Christians, Mahomedans, Pagans, and all other Infidels, are earnestly requested to attend.

Heins was a member of the National Union of the Working Classes, and secretary of the (Chartist) Chatham Radical Association, and offered himself as a speaker around London (as did George Plummer, of Crombie's Row (by Jubilee Street / Commercial Road). In 1834 and 1835 he was arrested for selling unstamped publications under the 1819 Newspaper Stamp Duties Act (one of the 'Six Acts' of that year aimed to curb radicalism); the first time the case was dropped, but the second time he was committed to New Prison, Clerkenwell for six months (with the option of a £20 fine).

The railway, and public houses
here for details how the London & Blackwall Railway bisected the street, with a station briefly located here (1842-48, until it moved further east); the railway arches were used - as they are to this day - for a variety of workshops and small businesses. As the character of the area changed, many public houses appeared along the street, including the following (with their 1859 licensees named in brackets) - more details here:

* In the  early 1880s William Osborne was the licensee [left in 1882 with his four youngest children Charlotte, Anne, James and Clara]. He prospered, buying houses in Bow, and enjoyed counting out gold sovereigns. His next son Robert - there were two further boys (one of whom emigrated to the USA) and a girl - was married in Bow, and seeking to escape the confines and dirt of the East End took his family to Blackwood in South Wales, where he became involved in Jerusalem Baptist chapel and the temperance movement. We're grateful to Faith Ford for this picture and detailed family information; more details of this, and their church in Hereford, here.

Other developments
Jewish and Irish residents were increasingly moving into the street. As one example among many, at no.40 Michael Shuter was born in 1850 to Polish parents; he emigrated to the USA, where he became a clothing manufacturer and traveller, dying in Brooklyn in 1906.

See here for the story of the Congregational Chapel, here for its take-over as an Anglican place of worship, and here for Raine's School across the road (the building still bears the name at second-floor level).

At no.75 were Turkish baths, extant for a few years from 1865 until at least 1869. Perhaps they catered for a Jewish clientele who used them for ritual washing; it's not known whether there were facilities for women here, though there were at the baths at 7 Commercial Road, run by Nevill's who were the major providers across London, and mentioned in Terry Pratchett's Dodger (2012), set in Victorian times,
and at the Russian vapour baths in Brick Lane - right is a sign from about 1900. See Malcolm Shifrin's comprehensive and fully-illustrated site on Victorian Turkish baths. No.75 seems to have been an unlucky site: the previous tenant, fruiterer James Hurley, was declared bankrupt in 1865, as was a later tenant, Gover & Co, leather sellers, in 1881.

Three 19th century case studies

(1) 32 Cannon Street Road
In 1801 the property was insured by Archibald Mason, a mariner. Francis Barnett, in his strange 1823
Memoirs (p305), claims it was the home of the Congregational minister Dr Andrew Reed, whose story is told here, including details of Barnett's campaign against him - though Reed had previously lived in St George's Place. In 1824 at the King's Theatre, Haymarket Mr J.F. Denman of this address received a 'reward' (the Silver Isis Medal) from the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce [later the Royal Society of Arts] for a drawing in chalk from a bust. Was he perhaps a friend or colleague of Reed who later became a minister? if so, he would be author of this curious 1835 clerical advice in Letters to a Mother on Education:
CURTAINS AND SHUTTERS.- The custom so prevalent of darkening a chamber by shutters and of surrounding the beds with curtains, especially the cradles of infants, is very injurious to health, not merely owing to the causes, (arising from the impurity of air) last specified, but to the eyesight. When the light is almost entirely excluded, and then the shutters opened - nearly at once, the pain and violence suffered by, the eyes would seem naturally to discourage the custom. The use of curtains is less injurious: but the disuse of them, especially around the bed or cradle, has often been recommended by physicians. One good effect of the advice would be, that the eye would gradually become stronger by being accustomed to the light shaded by the eyelid even while closed in sleep; and above all other reasons, the increasing light, especially in a spring or summer morning, would naturally awaken him, and conduce to the habit of early activity, which is of incalculable importance.
and also, a few years later, according to Kitto's Pictorial Bible (1855) and Cyclopædia (1862) he entered the fray on the vexed question of the Hebrew bird-name anapha: was it a hoopoe, or a heron, or a plover?

In this same period James Thomas Haunack was listed at this address as a Land Tax Commissioner for Middlesex; and in 1835 a lawyer Thomas Humphreys lived here: according to vol.10 of the Legal Observer, Samuel Prentice, of 9 Bedford Street, Mile End, was articled to him as a clerk, and was admitted as an attorney to the King's Bench (as at the same session was a clerk articled to the author William Harrison Ainsworth). Five years later, John T. Hind was resident, and a director of the British Building and Investment Company, established in 1845, as this advertisement [left] explains, on 'Macarthur's Simple and Improved Plan' with a particular appeal to thrifty working class people who aspired to home ownership. By 1855 John Bruce Hind (what relation?) was running an auction and estate agency office from the same address, and was listed in the Medical Times & Gazette Advertiser as the local agent of the New Equitable Assurance Company. By 1871, now from 122 Cannon Street Road [was this a move or a re-numbering?], he was appointed to auction properties, often at Garraway's, pursuant to Chancery orders, including in 1871 the estate of John Smith, bone crusher of Whitechapel, in Barkingside and Chadwell Heath.

William Cooke and his wife Louise lived at no.32 in the 1860s. He was listed as an undertaker in documents of the period, and also as parish clerk in 1866, 1867 and 1869, having apparently been sexton at the time of the Ritualism Riots (though by then the churchyard was closed, he would have arranged burials elsewhere). He also held other posts in the parish - he
had been paid £7.10s. a year to clean the church windows, and in 1866 was one of the three parish rate collectors. Sadly, in 1871 he was admitted to Colney Hatch Mental Asylum (later Friern Hospital), where he died a few years later. Perhaps as a result of an undiagnosed brain tumour, his character changed - he became violent, threatening a fellow-patient with a knife, and sang 'lewd songs' of his own composition. His widow continued to run the undertaker's business - in the 1881 census she was still at this address, described as a 'milk shop'. However, his son Walter Ambrose Cooke was placed in Dr Barnardo's home in Radcliff Highway, and at the Infant Orphan Asylum in Wanstead (founded by Dr Andrew Reed in 1827), and went on to the Bluecoat School; he became a successful businessman who married an heiress to the Manor of Bepton (changing his surname to Fleming to gain an inheritance). A family member recalls him visiting his mother in a chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce to check that she really did need a new mattress before he handed over the money to buy it. (We are grateful to William Cooke's great-granddaughter Jenny Crawford for these details: her researches continue!)

A later reference to the house comes in 1898, when A. Pearlman, cane-worker, was living or working here and was fined £1 10s. at Thames police court for employing an under-age worker.

(2)  26 Cannon Street Road
In the mid-19th century the Ballard family occupied the house (and also no.14): they were printers, and William (b.1837) became the head of the household. It is marked on the 1878 Vestry map as a 'dispensary'. From
1887 to c1975 it was the manufactory of H. Glover & Sons, Mineral Water Manufacturers, with a large workshop with glazed top-lighting to the rear, which still survives; they made and sold cordials and squash, as did others in the area. Horace William Glover was also the licensee of the Crown & Dolphin (see above) in 1921; he and his father served as wardens of the parish, and his son Walter Horace Glover was for a while Ringing Master before his early death. Family members remember visiting the workshop in the 1970s. The shop frontage, now a locally-listed site, survives [right]. A firm of architects was based here in the 1990s, and a registered medical practitioner in more recent years; the street entrance has been carefully maintained by the present occupier.

Another supplier with premises on the street was Philip Diamond, who was prosecuted in 1907 for possessing and supplying saccharin. This artificial sweetener, discovered by accident in 1879, is now widely used, under regulation, as a cheap and potentially 'healthy' alternative to sugar, but in the early years of its commercialisation its use was regarded as a fraudulent substitution for a more natural and nutritionally valuable product. The Pharmaceutical Journal reported thus:

On June 13 at Thames Police Court, London, Philip Diamond, 44, described as a mineral water manufacturing agent, of Cannon Street Road, St. George's, was remanded on a charge of concealing a quantity of saccharin with intent to defraud His Majesty's Customs. Mr. Shaw, who prosecuted, said the defendant was a dealer in mineral water articles, and observation had been kept on him by Mr. J. B. Davies, the Preventive inspector, and his staff, for twelve months past ... About nine o'clock on Wednesday night Mr. A. W. Cope, supervisor of the Inland Revenue, entered the defendant's shop, and saw him in a crouching position among some cases which were in a little room. In reply to a question put by Mr. Cope the defendant said I have not got any saccharin at all. Mr Davies then came in, and on a systematic search being made upwards of 2lb. saccharin, marked 500, denoting it was the best quality, was found. Mr Dickinson remanded the defendant, and agreed to accept bail in two sureties of £75 each for his appearance.

On June 20, before Mr. Dickinson, Philip Diamond, mineral water manufacturers' agent, of Cannon Street Road, St. George's-in-the-East, surrendered to his bail to further answer a charge of harbouring and concealing a quantity of saccharin. It was stated the Inland Revenue authorities attached considerable importance to the arrest, as the defendant was believed to be one of the principal receivers of saccharin in London, and, as a matter of fact, his shop had been frequented by all those persons lately convicted for smuggling saccharin.It was now stated that during the remand the samples had been examined. Three unopened tins and an opened tin contained saccharin of good quality. Some of the other samples contained sodium salt, and others were granular in appearance. The contents of the paper parcels were mixtures of saccharin and sugar, but the amount of the latter was only 14 per cent and contained a large proportion of Para substance. The samples were analysed by Mr R. Rogers, analyst of the Government laboratory. Mr Dickinson said it was a case for the full penalty and fined the defendant £100 and £15 15s. costs. The money was paid.

(3)  4 Cannon Street Road ['old' numbering - as above, some identify it as 'opposite the Commercial Road', near the turnpike]
By contrast, this was a house in multiple occupancy, with a variety of tradesmen and parish officers below, and tenants above.

20th Century and today

Cannon Street Road became the point at which the Jewish and Irish communties met and overlapped: see this 1911 description of life in the parish.

In the 1890s, one of the three or four regular advertisers in the parish magazine had been A.H. Bausor at no.59  - agents for Mazawattee - right - and Boisselier's Cocoagene. Boisselier's were based in Enfield, and in 1895 the local press reported The proprietors of Boisselier’s Cocoagene have generously offered to hand over to the funds of the Enfield Cottage Hospital the proceeds of the sale of their Id. boxes of cocoagene, which they have arranged to sell along the route of the procession of the Bonfire Boys [a November 5 event]. The generous act, the worthy object, and the nutritive and lasting properties of the aliment, should prove a combination strong enough to draw a good many pennies to the coffers of the Hospital. (Mr Wright collected 7s 5d, Mrs Boisselier 12s 3d and Mr Ayres 16s.)

A. H. Bousor stood for election to the Vestry in 1896. However, within a decade his business here had closed, along with those of three others nearby, as alleged by Alderman James Silver in his evidence to the Royal Commission on Alien Immigration: 
2628. (Major Evans-Gordon) Now with regard to the trade and the traders?The characteristic of the foreigner is to deal with, to associate with, and to herd with people of his own race. Within my knowledge in the past two years — of my personal knowledge — some four tradesmen once carrying on prosperous businesses in the Cannon Street Road, St. George's East, have been ruined by this foreign invasion. They are an undertaker (Bradford), a grocer (Bausor), an oilman (Steadman), and a pork butcher (Hasler), all within a stone's throw of each other. Their former customers, all Britishers, have been compelled to leave the neighbourhood, and the foreigners will not deal with them ....
See here for more on the background to this Commission, and Silver's views; and here for a transcript of more of his evidence on traders.

It is possible that Bausor moved to Chelmsford, where other family members worked as grocers and bakers; in later years a firm of A.H. Bousor was registered at an address near Braintree until its dissolution. Bradfords had previously been involved in partnerships with the Hickmans, and had possibly taken over the business when Moses Hickman retired. The oilman John Steadman, of 83 Cannon Street Road and 169 Cable Street, went bankrupt in 1901, but in 1921 a firm of that name was still trading at 169 Cable Street. John Francis Hasler was listed in trade directories of the 1890s as pork butcher of 52 Cannon Street Road; Thomas Milbank Hasler carried on the same business in the Commercial Road, and in 1921 at 22 Cable Street. So perhaps these traders did not disappear as completely as Silver alleges.

Left are two views from the Edwardian period, plus Montefiore House (149-153), social housing for Jewish families - seen in the 1970s when it had become private dwellings owned by Montefiore Houses Ltd. It was demolished in the 1970s, together with the synagogue at 143-145. (In 1907 an unemployed journeyman tailor, suffering from depression, hanged himself from a water pipe in the synagogue.) Right is a 1955 view looking south from under the railway bridge, and the entrance to the church today.

The Georgian row between the church entrance and Cable Street (32-50) is shown left  in Goad's 1899 insurance map; all but those immediately by the church entrance have survived, but all the shops have become flats, apart from a small restaurant and an Islamic girls' school. It is shown left in 1968 (looking north) and today (looking south). North of the railway, 116-122 is shown right in 1957 and today; the shops and offices from this row have gone, though they occupy most of the rest of the street.

West of Cannon Street Road: Ponler Street
Running west from Cannon Street Road, formerly William Street, it was renamed in the mid-19th century, probably for the Ponler family, whose details are here.  The adjacent street are shown right on Goad's 1899 insurance map. For a while in the mid-1850s Joseph Platts and his wife and 8 children lived at 2 William Street (and later at Clarence Place, Stepney Green). Born in 1815, from 1837 he was engineer of the Steamboat Company of the Black Sea and then Chief Consulting Engineer to the Russian Imperial Admiralty at St Petersburg; a fluent Russian speaker, he was twice recipient of the Gold Medal with Riband of the Order of St Anne & Vladimir. The family left Odessa at the outbreak of the Crimean War in 1855. Letters here relate to his claim for compensation for the destruction of the steam-powered flour mill which he and his father-in-law John Tandy ran at Kertch. Eventually he was offered £500 compensation 'without prejudice', for the loss of mill and his services as an interpreter.  He returned to Russia, dying there in 1859 (buried at Smolensk Cemetery in St Petersburg).

Parallel with William Street to the south, also running west off Cannon Street Road, was John Street, off which was Marmaduke Court to the south (up against the railway viaduct), and Challis [formerly St George's] Court to the north, also accessed from William Street; left is a watercolour by Rose Henriques of bunting for the coronation of George VI in 1937 in this court. Marmaduke Place was off Langdale Street. Another court ran between Samuel and Grove Streets.

In recent years this area has been entirely rebuilt; it includes housing by Hunt Thompson Associates which won a North East Thames Architectural Society award in 1986. The Bangladeshi Youth Movement (BYM) has its offices in the street, and organises a variety of local activities. Welstead House [right] is on Cannon Street Road at the junction with Ponler Street - on the site which included no.101 [right in 1952].

Umberston Street
  (see here for its Jewish history)
Parallel to Cannon Street Road, to the west, were Umberston (also shown on maps as Amberston and Humberstone), Marman and Samuel Streets - a continuous, and fairly narrow, road. The Captain Cook public house was at 45 Umberston Street (formerly 26, or 27, or 28 Marman Street until this name went out of use). In 1852 this curious letter appeared in The Lancet:

Physical Deformities
Sir,—The writer would crave the indulgence by your insertion of these few thoughts in your valuable journal, upon a subject which has been entirely overlooked both by the philanthropist and the benevolent portion of the public. I allude to those wretchedly-deformed objects that are allowed to prowl our streets, exhibiting their naked deformities for the purpose of enlisting our sympathies; and when I reflect that they are forced to adopt this expedient by their utter inability to secure a livelihood for themselves, and the fact that amid all the splendid institutions for the relief of suffering humanity, there are none found that would embrace the objects I have alluded to; and how many there are whose friends would shrink from adopting such degraded means and would rather yield to the biting pangs of poverty than submit to such exposures,—and I am an eye witness to many such cases, which have come under my notice in my daily walks among men, and suggested to me what an incalculable amount of misery and sorrow might be alleviated where an institution of the kind existed,—I feel confident that if the press and some influential nobleman and the wealthy of our land would take the subject in hand, they would secure the warmest support of the ladies, who, I am proud to say, are never behind in such laudable works of charity as these.
With much respect, I remain your humble servant, W.B.B.            Marman-street, Commercial-road East.

Scab bakers
In 1906 Joseph Diamond was charged at the Thames Police Court with intimidating three local 'scab' [anti-union] bakers, Jacob Cohen, Abraham Morris and Henry Slater, of Umberston Street and nearby Berner Street. Fireworks were thrown through the skylights into Slater's shop in Umberston Street, windows were broken, and a large crowd (allegedly 2,000) gathered. The right-wing press seized on this incident as evidence of the stranglehold gained over local politics by the Progressive Party (allied to the national Liberal Party but with a Labour and socialist presence - Sidney Webb, founder of the Fabian Society, was a Progressive LCC councillor). The Liberty and Property Defence League's journal Liberty Review commented When a political clique gets as firm a grip of power as the London 'Progressives' have now obtained, it is no easy matter to dislodge them. They can count on the votes of the officials and privileged workmen, whereas their opponents have no such addition to their ordinary party strength, and it curiously linked this incident with the LCC's withdrawal, for financial reasons, of the winter service of the recently-started Thames riverboat service: a successful initiative but axed by their successors in power in 1907, the Municipal Reform Party, as a prime instance of 'creeping municipal socialism'.

Gaming clubs - use of archaic legislation

After the Second World War illegal gambling was concentrated in Spitalfields and Whitechapel; in 1966 there were two main clusters of clubs, around Hessel and Sander Streets, accounting for 48 out of 97 convictions (there was only one conviction in Poplar). Sander Street was also a notorious centre of prostitution.

On 1 January 1944 the Umberston Club in Umberston Street was raided by the police, under magistrate's warrant. Later that month Will Thorne, Labour MP for Plaistow, asked a question in Parliament of the Home Secretary - misnaming the club and street as 'Underwood' - and was told that there had been 59 arrests. Percy Forrest was sentenced to six months' imprisonment, Louis Samuel to three months with £12 costs (against which he appealed), and the charge against John Dorras was dropped. The other 56 were fined 6s. 8d. as 'frequenters', under the unrepealed sections of an Act of 1541, which deserves some explanation.

An Acte for the Mayntenance of Artyllarie and debarringe of unlawful Games (33 Henry 8, C.9) was passed at the instigation of bowyers, fletchers, stringers and arrowhead makers concerned about the decline of archery, despite previous statutes aimed at its encouragement, because many subtill and inventatyve and craftye persons ... have dayly found and dayly finde many and sondrie new and craftye games and players ... kepinge houses, playes and allyes for the maynenacne thereof.

The first part required all men under 60, not being lame or decrepit (except 'spiritual persons', and judges and justices), to practise long-bow shooting and keep bows and arrows at home. Fathers were to teach their sons to shoot, keeping a bow and two shafts for every boy aged 7-17. This part of the Act was repealed in the 19th century.

The next part dealt with unlawful games and their regulation. No-one was to keep for gain, hiring or a living any common house, alley or place of bowling, coyting [quoiting], colysh, cups, half bowl, tennis, dicing-table, or carding, or any other manner of game prohibited by any statute heretofore made, or any unlawful game hereafter to be invented. [C.T. Onions Shakespeare's England, vol II pages 459-68, describes these banned games in detail.] No artificer, husbandman, apprentice, journeyman, labourer, or serving-man was to play at tables, tennis, dice, cards, bowls, of any other unlawful game, out of Christmas, under pain of twenty shillings for every such offence. At Christmas they were only to play in the houses or in presence of their masters. There were two provisos, characteristic of the age: masters could license their servants to play at cards, dice, or tables, with them, or with any other gentleman in their master's house or presence; and noblemen, and those with an annual income of £100, could license their servants or family to play within the precinct of their houses, gardens, or orchards, at cards, dice, tables, bowls, or tennis.

But sections 8 & 9, giving powers to raid and prescribing penalties, remained unrepealed. The penalty for keeping a house was 40s., and for 'using or haunting' such houses, and 'playing' in them, 6s.8d. Officials were authorised to raid suspect houses and make arrests, keeping them in prison until they gave sureties not to re-offend. Weekly, or at least monthly, re-searches were required, with a 40s. penalty for breach.

The 40s. penalty for running a gaming club was superceded by a £100 fine or six months' imprisonment under the 1945 Gaming Act, but magistrates continued to use the surety, or recognizance, provisions for usinge and hauntinge ... and there pleyenge as the only effective way at the time of controlling clientele. Not only could all those found on unlawful premises be fined 6s. 8d. (admittedly not so large a sum in the 1940s as in the 1540s), but they could be kept in custody until they had found sureties not to use the houses and no more to play, haunt or excersise from thenceforth in at or to anye of the said places or at any of the said games.

In 1955 the club, now known as the New Commercial Club, was raided again. At the Thames Magistrates Court the managers pleaded guilty and most of the other defendants admitted that they were there to take part in unlawful games, and were ordered to enter into a recognizance. But some refused on the grounds that they were not there to game. Two said that they were playing solo, two that they were watching solo, one that he was waiting for a table to play at, one that he walked into the Club to buy a cup of tea as the raid was going on, the seventh that he was playing a game of snooker without stakes, the eighth that he was watching snooker, and the ninth that he had just finished his evening meal, which he always had in the Club. The police argued that mere presence was sufficient to convict, since the club was undeniably a common gaming house where games of chance as well as games of 'mere skill' were played; but the magistrate directed only those defendants who admitted that they were gaming or waiting for a game to enter into a recognizance, and discharged without order the rest. The case was fully discussed in the 1955 Journal of Criminal Law (19 J. Crim L. 281). Gaming law has moved on apace since then!

Left are the flats in Umberston Street (forming part of the Berner estate), newly-built in 1955, and today.

Rampart Street
A short street running from Commercial Road into the east side of Cannon Street Road, [formerly Little Turner Street]. Joseph, Kinder, Salter and Barnet Streets ran off it. Left is the former Kinder Arms, a corner site at no.19 [formerly 7 Little Turner Street] - at the end of the 19th century this was the base of the Plotzkar Relief & Sick Benefit Society, and it is now flats.  Right is a warehouse conversion, and a view of the street today.

Back to History