St John's parish

The area between Backchurch Lane (Church Lane until the 1860s) towards Cannon Street Road, between Cable Street and the Commerical Road, became the patch of St John the Evangelist-in-the-East Grove [Golding] Street; its small streets and courts were densely populated and deeply deprived. Maps right from 1868 and 1878 show street name changes: North Street to Fairclough Street, Sander Street to Charles Street, Elizabeth Street to Stutfield Street, Splidt's Terrace (later Street) to Forbes Street, and Thomas Street to Pinchin Street. Subsequently, Phil(l)ip Street became Philchurch Street.

Far right  is a link to Goad's 1899 insurance map for the northern part of the parish area, which numbers every property, showing whether it was a dwelling or shop or workplace, and provides much other information. For example, it shows the many small and cramped courts built between the main streets and accessed only by foot through narrow passages: these include, going from west to east: off Batty Street, Queen Court (also accessed from Christian Street), Batty Place, Batty Court (which housed a club), Hampshire Court (also accessed from Berner Street); off Christian Street, Matilda Street and Matilda Place; Turners Buildings (also accessed from Grove Street); off Grove Street, Durer Place; between Grove and Umberston Streets, Joseph's Terrace (with a cow house and school between Umberston and Morgan Streets); Western Passage; Norman Buildings (accessed from Cannon Street Road); Bowyers Buildings and London Terrace, behind the Cannon Street Road synagogue (see more on the development of this area here); and south of James Street, West('s) Folly, Amber Court, and Langdale Place (accessed from William Street).

The ground rents for a large number of properties in this area were owned by one Abraham Batty. 'Abraham Batty of Church-lane, Whitechapel' was a contributor to the new London Hospital in 1775, and a namesake (son?), 1780-1868, was a market gardener in the area and later in Batty Fields, Bermondsey. In 1879 the Ecclesiastical Review advertised

Auction Sale.
By order of the surviving Trustee of the late Abraham Batty. Esq.—Christian-street, Batty-street, Berner-street, Sander-street, and Commercial-road East.—To Trustees, Capitalists, and others.—Important and highly valuable Freehold Properties.
MESSRS. RICE BROTHERS are instructed to offer for SALE, by ACTION, at the AUCTION MART, Tokenhouse-yard, City, on WEDNESDAY, October 29, 1879, at two o'clock precisely, in 17 lots, valuable FREEHOLD GROUND RENTS, amounting to £287 9s. 2d. per annum, arising from and amply secured by first-class shop property, situate and being Nos. 8l, 86, 88, 90, 92, 91, 96, 98, 100, 102, 104, 106, 108, 110, 112, and 114, Commercial-road East, with the premises in the rear thereof, comprising Coopers' Hall, the extensive and well-arranged engineering works, in the occupation of Messrs. Fraser Brothers, capital stabling, &c., together with 10 dwelling-houses, with gardens, Nos. 93 to 111 (being odd numbers), Christian-street; 19 dwelling-houses and other premises, being Nos. 1 to 19 (odd numbers) and 2 to 18 (even numbers) Batty-street; nine dwelling-houses, Nos. 1, 3, 5, 13, 15, 17, and 19, also 12 and 11, Berner-street, with the extensive stabling, yard, dwelling-house, and premises adjoining, with gateway entrance from Berner-street, and private way from Batty-street; also No. 16, Sander-street, Commercial-road East, with reversion in 22.5 years from Michaelmas, 1879, to the rack rentals, estimated at about £3,000 per annum; also three freehold houses, being No. 7, 9, and 11, Berner-street, let at weekly rentals amounting to £106. 6s. per annum.—The estate may be viewed by permission of the respective occupiers, and particulars, with plans and conditions of sale, had of Messrs. Bridger and Collins, Solicitors, 37. King William-street. E.C., at the Mart; and of the Auctioneers. 'The Factory Gazette', Offices, 2, Adelaide-place, London Bridge, City.

By the time St John's church was built, the area had become squalid. Here is a nonconformist account from The Christian's Penny Magazine, and Friend of the People (Congregational Union 1865, ed J Campbell), which singles it singles it out as a centre of vice:

No dweller at the West-end, says the Rev. G. W. M'Cree, the missionary of St. Giles's, can have any conception of its crowded apartments, narrow alleys, swarming dogs and children; slaughterhouses reeking with blood; pawnbrokers' shops filled to repletion with the pledges of the poor; factories, yards, and workshops, all noisy, ill-ventilated, and very dirty; crooked, unswept, and unsavoury lanes, where every woman seems consumptive, and every man half-starved; beershops, the haunts of thieves, and ginshops echoing with the gabble and blasphemies of heated, angry, wretched people; the famous 'Highway', with its sailors, crimps, hawkers, soldiers, pickpockets, watermen, negro melodists, butchers' men, Lascars, dock labourers, flaunting women more cruel than tigers, policemen walking in pairs, ship-captains with gay girls hanging on their arms, touts from boarding-houses, grimy stokers, Irish emigrants, beggars, and pugilists—in brief, its noise, dirt, crime, want, disease, and misery.

Nor have the public generally any conception of the lamentable condition of hundreds of the children, and the boys and girls at the East-end of London. It is simply fearful. Sunday-schools, Ragged-schools, and Bands of Hope confer great benefits upon many of them, but the majority are shamefully neglected by their parents. Let any one walk through Poplar, Spitalfields, Whitechapel, Commercial-Road, Ratcliff Highway, Aldgate, and Back Church-lane, I as I have done, and he will see scores of children who are not children, but little withered imps of cruelty, falsehood, and vice. He will also see elder boys and girls who are the victims of the most precocious passions—hard, foul, repulsive, and savage, who hate the parents who forsook them, the law that punishes them, and the Christians who would fain reclaim them. He will hear them coin oaths with horrible facility, see them drink gin like water, and, should they quarrel, he will witness such a fight as will make him expect a murder.

The twin monsters of this vast district of the metropolis are Dirt and Drunkenness. King Dirt is everywhere. There is a fetid smell, a sickly atmosphere, which makes you feel faint and weary. Your lips grow clammy; your linen looks yellow; your hands get defiled: your eyes grow dim; you long for green fields, fresh air, flowers, and bright skies. But, alas! they are not near you, and if, perchance, you should pass some building with 'Ragged-school' over the door, and looking in see a number of poor, white, forlorn children, who, when the teacher says "Rise", stand up and sing — There is a happy land, Far far away, you pass on with tears in your eyes, for you feel, also, that the happy land is indeed far far away.

King Drunkenness, however, reigns quite as much as King Dirt. There are thousands of sober men and women in the East of London, no doubt, and the Bands of Hope there will, it is anticipated, do much to produce a sober future; but any one who explores the localities infected with cholera, and also the contiguous parishes, will be shocked at the evident supremacy of drunkenness. Many men and women seem to drink apparently nearly every penny they can spare, and many which they cannot spare. Hence rags, desolate homes, crime, pauperism, and now pestilence in its most fatal form. I do not exaggerate the state of things. An agent of the London City Mission says:—There is perhaps more wickedness in Shadwell than in any other parish in London. As you walk through the streets the scenes of wickedness that meet your eyes, and the profane language that sounds upon your ears, cannot be described. If such wickedness is met with in the public streets, what is to be met with in public houses where men and women meet to practise wickedness, and to strive to excel each other in sin, and where that man is counted a king among men who can swear the loudest, and who is most fruitful in inventing fresh deeds of darkness?

The seafaring part of the population are much addicted to intemperance, and this tends to produce many sanitary and social evils. A competent witness writes:—It is really lamentable to see the number of our English seamen who live more like the beasts that perish than men possessing immortal souls; and what is a disgrace to our country may be seen in our docks at all times when a ship is leaving for some foreign port, in the fact that our seamen seem as if they could not face the winds and the waves, nor take farewell of their native shores, but in a state of intoxication. The brave and noble captain of the ill-fated ship London said to me before leaving the docks on his last voyage, 'It is a great pity we cannot get our sailors to leave our ports in a sober state.'

An intelligent missionary, who labours in the east, states that Millwall, Cubitttown, Blackwall, Poplar, The Orchard, and Poplar New Town, contain 200 public-houses. What wonder is it, then, that King Drunkenness reigns?

The prevalence of cholera in these parts is, doubtless, increased by the prevalence of intemperate habits. Such habits are associated with late hours, unwashed bodies, filthy homes, predisposition to infection, improper food, heats and colds, debilitated constitutions, and a morbid fear of death—all of which tend to spread the pestilence. Thus, a woman whose brother resides in Scotland, wrote to him for help in the present distress, and he sent her some clothing. She took it to the pawnshop, thence she went to the public-house and got drunk. Both she and her daughter have died of cholera. Another hideous occurrence took place on Sunday last. The driver of a hearse on a 'cholera job' fell from his seat, and lay sprawling in the street, shouting, "Cholera, cholera!" He was drunk!

What can be done to check this horrid vice? One thing might be done. Every publican who supplies liquor to drunken persons should be summoned before a magistrate and fined in the most severe manner. No publican who allows men to get drunk on his premises, or serves them when intoxicated, should be permitted by the police to do so. It is a social crime for any class to profit by drunkenness at such a crisis as this. Drunkenness breeds cholera as marshes breed fever. Dr. Sewall, who visited the cholera hospitals of New York, states that of 204 cases in Park Hospital, there were only six temperate persons.

This article, 'The Haunts of the East End Anarchist', from the Evening Standard of 2 October 1894, begins with a description of the area before turning to a lurid and thoroughly racist account of the activities of the radical Jewish groups that were meeting locally. See below for pictures of the streets mentioned.

Just beyond the Proof-house of the Gunmakers' Company near the Whitechapel end of the Commercial Road, begins a series of narrow streets running at right angles to the main thoroughfare, and cutting Fairclough Street at the further extremity, where the Tilbury and Southend Railway passes through the district [see below]. More or less alike in appearance, these byways, for they are no more, consist entirely of small two-storeyed tenements with an occasional stable or cow-shed to break the monotony, and a sprinkling of little shops devoted to coal and dried fish, stale fruit and potatoes, pickled cucumbers and salt herrings, shrivelled sausages and sour brown bread. 

There is Backchurch Lane, where the Irish resident still holds his own against the incoming Russo-Jewish settler, and Berner [now Henriques] Street, where the window bills, written in Hebrew characters. inform you that there are 'loshing' or a 'bek-rum' (back room) to let, and thus proclaim the nationality of its denizens. There is Batty Street wholly given over to the foreign tailors, clickers and 'machiners'; Christian Street, long since an appanage of East End Jewry, and Grove [now Golding] Street, where the low-pitched tenements are so far below the pavement level that the passer-by can comfortably shake hands with the residents off the top floor through the bedroom windows. 

And intersecting all these are a number of courts, alleys, and passages, so dark and narrow, so dirty and malodorous, that the purlieus of Seven Dials and the backways of Clare Market may be called light and airy in comparison with them. Some are blind, others lead through to the adjoining thoroughfare. Some branch off to right and left, others conduct one to open spaces forming irregular quadrangles lined with houses below the street level, so small and snug that the occupier standing in his front parlour can open the door, stir the fire, reach the dustbin outside, or make the bed inside without stirring from the spot. Courts and alleys, streets and yards, all are densely packed, in many cases even to the cellars below lighted by small gratings in the pavement. And the whole district, stretching from Backchurch Lane on one side to Morgan Street on the other, is the resort and principal abiding-place of the East End Anarchists. In the side streets and alleys hereabouts the majority of them live and loaf; within a stone's throw are their favourites haunts, the coffee-shops they patronise, and the private gambling-clubs where many spend their evenings, and close by is their printing press, their temporary club and meeting house, and even the tavern where their Friday evening discussions take place.

The Club and rallying place of the Russo-Jewish Anarchists in East London was until lately in Berner Street. Recent occurrences, however, rendered this an undesirable locality; it was too well looked after by the authorities. So it was transferred to a quieter and more obscure corner, where it was less likely to attract the notice of outsiders; and it is now by no means easy to find. Near the top of New Road which opens into Commercial Road, there is a turning known as Charlotte Street, at one corner of which is an oilmonger's and at the other a tobacconist's. Three doors or so from the former is a narrow archway, bricked over. The roadway beneath is roughly paved, and the kerb is generally the seat of some half-dozen unkempt and dishevelled gossips attended by twice as many barefooted children, Passing under the arch one emerges upon a lane or alley not more than nine to ten feet wide. There is a row of small tenement houses on one side, a dirty brick wall and some stables on the other. A few costers' barrows are backed up against the wall, and the uneven roadway and gutter are invariably sloppy and sloshy, owing to the grooming of horses always going on, and the practice the residents have adopted of emptying their waste water from the upper windows.

At the bottom of this thoroughfare, and of on the left hand side of it, is a small building, half workshop, half warehouse, with a steep sloping roof, the gable end facing the road. The lower part is entirely boarded up, and tightly nailed-to. There is a large double door on the first floor the entire width of the building, and only the upper part of this is glazed so that it is impossible to look in from without. Nor can the edifice be seen from the streets at the end of the lane in which it stands. There are two small doors, but without either bell or knocker, handle or latch to them. A couple of posters are stuck on the doors, one in Hebrew characters, reading Arbeiter Freund, the other in English, 'Workers' Friend', thus announcing this to be the official headquarters of the East End Anarchist propaganda. Knock, kick or batter at the side entry any afternoon or evening, and the big door on the upper floor will be cautiously opened, and you will hear a hoarse Khto tam?  - 'Who's there?' If you are unknown to the speaker, you will be told that no business is done there. If the questioner above recognises you, or you come with a friend, a string arrangement will open the side door to the left, and by means of a wooden staircase you can mount to the upper floor. Go up any afternoon or evening and you will hear the sound, not of political argument or Socialist debate, but of cardboard falling upon wood, and suppressed talk and laughter. The whole of the upper part forms a large oblong room,  hald office, half sitting-room, with a bench or two, upon which a score of young men and women are generally to be found seated, smoking and chattering away, while others are at a small table playing cards. As you enter you may catch one, watching the game, call out, in unctuous Yiddish, Dos kortel begrubt ach, 'that card will bury you' - and the card apparently does settle the player, for he throws it down with an oath and a muttered Shwartzmazel, 'bad luck', and tosses a couple of sixpences over to his companions. The young men usually present are well fed and dressed, belonging apparently to a comfortably-off class, and the young women are altogether comely specimens of 'fair Israel' in East London. But the visitors here are only new adherents, young converts, They are the idle drones of the Anarchist hive. The Club is but a rallying-place for such followers, and a blind for the outside public. For the workers we must look elsewhere. And these will be found in the smaller circles or branches which meet on Sundays, in their own appointed places.

One such branch, comprising a section of the women's organisation, has its meeting place in the very heart of the Anarchist quarter in the Commercial Road. Two or three doors from Morgan Street is a narrow passage by the side of the large public-house in the open thoroughfare. This is London Terrace, and leads to one of the darkest and most forbidding of the alleys that abound in the vicinity, There are houses on one side only, on the other a wall, which effectually prevents any glimmer of sunlight from reaching the tenements., So bad is the reputation of the terrace that none but residents would willingly go through it after dusk, and even those take care to keep their lower window-shutters close-barred and their doors locked as soon as twilight sets in. At the further end the wayfarer down there is as far from help and hearing, if attacked or molested, as though he were a hundred miles instead of a hundred paces away from one of the busiest thoroughfares in London. Half-way across the passage we enter an open doorway, and are ushered down a short flight of stairs by an associate, to whom we have leters of introduction, then across a yard communicating, seemingly, with the block of houses facing Umberstone Street only to find ourselves in an ordinary-aired room filled by two and twenty persons seated like those attending a spiritualist séance, men and women ranged alternately around the wall. They are all Jews and Jewesses, but markedly different from the ordinary stock types encountered in the East End of London. None of the men are over forty, and only two of them wear beards - the rest moustaches and side-whiskers. They are neatly and quietly dressed, and were it not for their Jewish features, would pass unnoticed in any ordinary assembly of Englishmen. The women are, all of them taller than the average, strongly built, and plain-looking, with the heavy features of Russian Jewesses. They were their own hair - which East End Jewesses generally cover with a sheitel, or wig - and none of them have wedding rings. Their expression of face is not prepossessing, for the eye-brows are unusually bushy, and there is an ominous 'v' fold in the depression above the nose of several of them. Their peculiar utterance of certain consonants marks them out as Courlanderinnen, natives of Courland.

In presence of visitors properly vouched for, the proceedings at the meetings go on as usual, at least, so it is said. The programme consists of readings from advanced thinkers, with comments by the members, recitations of poems calculated to foster the spirit of Anarchism, and songs having the same tendency. The readings for the day are from Herbert Spencer, and the criticisms, with the frequent references to the abolition of marriage as an institution, the destruction of capital, and the good times coming when their revolutionary links will 'spew cartridges', are by no means milk for babes. The poems recited are decidedly strong meat. What do English readers say to this for a specimen verse or two? The original is, of course, in Judaeo-German, and it is rendered rough and ready from the original, the raciness of which however, it is impossible to reproduce:

If I dig in the mines of the frozen north,
I'll dig with a will: the ore I bring forth
May yet make a knife - a knife for the throat of the Tsar.
If I toil in the south, I'll plough and sow
Good honest hemp; who knows, I may grow
A rope - a rope for the neck of the Tsar.

Sarah Bernhardt might envy the fire and verve with which this recitation is given by one of the Jewesses, and there can be no possible mistake about the sentiments of the speaker and her auditory, whatever there may be about the merits of the verses. And the same fiery stuff, or fiery stuff of the same description, is being spouted about the same time at half a dozen other branches of the Anarchist League in the district between Backchurch Lane and the New Road, that runs up to Whitechapel. Everything is turned to account, tool for the purposes of its mischievous propaganda. Why, before the meeting is closed one member produces and sings an Anarchist version of 'After the Ball', with a finely-buttered moral drawn from the contrast between the wealthy dancers inside and the shivering poor outside, winding up with an Anglo-Yiddish chorus in which all join.

Of course, all those frequenting the Anarchist resorts of East London are not of the same temper and class as the foregoing. On the other side of the Commercial Road, in Greenfield Street, and about two doors down, is a small, squalid-looking shop, with a window on each side, a door in the centre, and panels painted a dull dirty yellow. The appearance of the whole place is fly-blown and untidy, from the torn curtains that conceal the interior to the shabby hangings that decorate the glass door. There are two rows of brown leather-covered seats running lengthwise inside, some little tables in front of them, a fly-specked mirror with the gilding cracked off, and a battered-faced clock against the side wall. Bills in each of the windows, in Hebrew characters, inform the Yiddish public and passers-by that 'here can be had coffee', also what they spell and call tie (tea), and alle ort von refreshments which every one will easily construe to mean all kinds of refreshments. This is a coffee-house much patronised by the great bulk of the poorer East End Anarchists and Socialists who live in the district, and here some district classes and types may be seen. One soon learns to distinguish them - one, that is, who has some knowledge of the foreign settlers and their dialects, for there are several forms of Yiddish which the accustomed ear as readily discriminated as an educated Englishman the brogue of an Irishman from the lingua Cockneyana of the born East Ender. Here may be noted the restless-eyes Galician, thin and lanky and flat-chested, his head cropped quite close, and remains of his ear-ringlets just showing; there the sly and foxy-looking Lithuanian, whose tongue instantly betrays him, for, like the Ephraimites of old in Judea, he cannot pronounce the 'sh', and says to this day and hour, Sibboleth for Shibboleth. There the restless Pole hobnobs with the muddle-headed German, each styling the other genoss, 'associate', for which privilege the foolish wretches pay their few pence weekly to the astute rascals who run the branches of which they are members. Only a few minutes' walk from the Commercial Road are the King's Arms (closed lately), in Fieldgate Street, and the Sugar Loaf, in Hanbury Street, both favourite resorts of the East End Anarchists, who get up the weekly discussions that tempt poor flies into the trap. Too lazy to work, they find in the mischievous propaganda they spread a capital means of bringing grist to their own particular mills. When not engaged in this work, the leaders and followers of East End Anarchism have only one resource, what they term Klein Shas, literally the 'little Talmud', a euphemism for card-playing; and they spend night after night in the haunts mentioned and the card rooms that abound in the neighbourhoods, gambling away the last coin that should have gone to their underfed wives and children, and returning home to rave afresh against society and the iniquity of those who do not go and do likewise. 

Murders were common in the squalid streets off Commercial Road, but very few of the perpetrators were Jewish. Here are three that hit the headlines (for more detail, see chapter 2 of James Morton East End Gangland (Hachette 2009):

On 28 June 1885 Miriam Angel was murdered at 16 Batty Street. She was 21, from Warsaw, and lived with her husband Isaac and was six months pregnant. When her mother called to visit and got no response, she sent for the doctor, who found her dead with aquafortis (nitric acid) pouring from her mouth, wounds to her head and evidence of rape. The attic lodger Israel Lipski (né Lobulsk), a Polish-Jewish 'stick-maker' (umbrella frame maker) was found in her room, also with acid burns, but survived. He alleged that two fellow-workers, Harry Schmuss and Simon Rosenbloom, had attacked them, demanding his gold chain, though they claimed to have a good relationship with him. He had lived in the house for two years, and was engaged to Kate Lyons, who protested his innocence. A public subscription was taken up to pay for his defence, but the barrister engaged, George Geoghegan, had a drink problem so in the event it was a commercial lawyer who acted for Lipski. The evidence was confused: a chemist from Bell & Co on the Commercial Road said that a foreigner had bought acid a few days earlier and he could tell he was a stick-maker from his clothes, yet it was also said that the crime was not planned in advance; the rules at that time denied a closing speech to the defence if the accused spoke for himself or called witnesses, so Lipski kept silent; and the judge's summing up was heavily weighted against him.
He was convicted and sentenced to hang; the night before his execution at Newgate he made a full 'confession' to the Rev Simeon Singer (a rabbi who at the time of Queen Victoria's jubilee asserted, of the Jewish population of London, we are Englishmen and and the thoughts and feelings of Englishmen are our thoughts and feelings); but the details of this confession didn't add up. A wave of antisemitism followed - 'Lipski' became a term of abuse. No.16 and the adjoining houses on Batty Street were demolished and rebuilt - right is the doorway to no.14, and views of Batty Street in 2000, and two today, looking south towards St George's Estate. See further Martin L. Friendland The Trails of Israel Lipski (Beaufort 1985).

On 20 May 1909 brothers Morris and Marks Reuben were hanged at Pentonville (by the famous Henry and Thomas Pierrepoint). They were arrested at a brothel, 3 Rupert Street, to which two officers from the Dorset, Sproull and McEachern had repaired (taking with them a supply of silver threepences, expecting to be accosted on their spree). Because Sproull, unlike McEachern, was not totally drunk he put up resistance when they were attacked by the Reuben brothers, and a fight ensued resulting in his death. Sproull's watch and chain was found sewn into Morris' trousers. Inspector Wensley, who conducted the investigation, later received a whisky glass engraved with a hanging man and the words 'the last drop'; such gifts were apparently a favourite at Masonic ladies' nights and the like for many years to come.

On 30 December 1920 Marks Goodmacher was hanged at Pentonville - said to be only the second Orthodox Jew to be executed. He was Russian, and had served in the Tzar's army from 1898-99. He and his Sarah settled at 57 Lambeth Street; he worked as a ladies' tailors presser, and they had a son, and a daughter Fanny. Bad-tempered, he drove his wife away; when Fanny married Sion Zeitoun in 1919 they soon moved out, to 17 Grove Street. Goodmacher, bitter at his wife's departure, accused his daughter of infidelity, and his son-in-law of being a ponce; he challenged Fanny to make reconciliation on the Day of Atonement. He and she were found at her home, their throats cut with a razor, and the room in disarray; she was dead, but he survived. He pleaded insanity, but though he was recognised to be hysterical and passionate, the defence failed (as was normal at that time).

78 Christian Street
was for a time the home of the 'German Bakers' Club' (it later became the premises of a Jewish tailor). In 1898 this was one of four premises raided by the police for the selling of illicit spirits, and Peter Schmidt was ordered to pay aggregated fines of £120 (a huge sum), and in default of payment serve nine months' imprisonment. The club was raided again a few years later, and Philip Schmidt, described as the secretary, was fined £25 and 5 guineas costs. All this was reported in the 1903 Report of the Royal Commission on Immigration, which led to the Aliens Act of 1905.

Right are some 1909 images of the area: (1) Berner [now Henriques] Street - with Nelson Beer House on the corner (no.46); by the cartwheel is the entrance to Dutfield's Yard where the body of Elizabeth Stride was found in 1888; (2) no.31; (3) Fairclough Street [named for the Fairclough family in 1869 - previously North Street] from the corner of Berner Street; (4) 1-15 Fairclough Street.

Left are three street corners in 1938: (1) Fairclough and Brunswick Streets (2) Christian and Ellen Streets; (3) Fairclough & Christian Streets, the Beehive public house where in 1888 Diemschütz and Kozebrodski went for help on finding Elizabeth Stride's body - now the site of Harkness House.

Some local industries

Many different trades were carried on locally - well into the 20th century there were even cowsheds for the local dairies! - but here are some examples:

In 1822
Joshua Taylor Beale, cabinet maker of Christian Street, and Thomas Timothy Benningfield, tobacco manufacturer of Whitechapel High Street, were granted a patent for certain improvements in steam engines.

In 1812 Henry Potter set up as a dealer in leeches, and seedsman and herbalist, in Fleet Market, Farringdon Street, retiring in 1846. The firm of Potter and Clarke became leading wholesale suppliers of herbs for medicinal uses, and from 1907 (or earlier) produced their influential [New] Cyclopædia of Botanical Drugs and Preparations, which went through many editions: it was still being published in the 1970s (by Health Science Press, Devon) when use of herbs had disappeared from medical practice. From the turn of the century they also issued their own trade paper, Potter's Bulletin. They were under growing pressure from registered medical practitioners, who claimed exclusive use of the title 'doctor', and reported prosecutions of herbalists for treating diphtheria, for example. A Commission on the far-reaching provisions of the 1858 Medical Act concluded that it was undesirable to attempt to prevent unregistered persons from practising. But the struggles continued.
In 1947 Potter & Clarke brought a test action against the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain over the definition of 'substances recommended as a medicine' and 'proprietory designation' under sections 11 and 12 of the 1941 Pharmacy and Medicines Act. (See here and here for much earlier local examples of spats over an issue which has many contemporary resonances, and here for an example of a genuine local quack!)

In 1925 they built a new drug grinding plant on Fairclough Street (on the site of Oates Drug Mills) on Berner [Henriques] Street, designed in 1923 by Wheat and Luker, and now apartments [right, together with Fairclough Street today].  The Industrial Chemist of 1932 (vol 8, page 9) reported this factory is an entirely self-contained one and has its own water supply from two artesian wells, one of which is at present in operation and giving 4,500 gallons per hour, which is automatically pumped to tanks on the roof. Left is a new gate to Victoria Yard, and the factory, now apartments, adjacent to two remaining 19th century buildings (nos. 8 & 10).

One of their products was savin (or sabin) oil, from juniper, which in their 1872 catalogue they advertised at 28s. a hundredweight and dried at 9d. a pound. In 1898 they were selling 'Wind and Water Pills' with juniper oil, and the catalogue, under 'unofficial pills', offered twelve 'corrective' preparations including 'S1 Corrective' (wholesale 5s. 9d. a gross) which contained both ergot and savin, only supplied to registered chemists, or with signed order form from doctor or hospital. As explained by Malcolm Potts, Peter Diggory & John Peel in Abortion (CUP 1977, p170), savin was widely used as an emmenagogue or abortifacient - like pennyroyal, or indeed Beecham's Pills, usually taken with gin. However, well into the 20th century advertisements, and entries in DIY medical manuals, used a wide range of coy euphemisms to conceal its real purpose, including female ailments, stoppages, irregularities and obstructions. In 1903 Dr David of Notting Hill offered 'female pills' along with a little book for married people (most invaluable) sent free on receipt of a stamped addressed envelope.

had occupied the adjacent premises at Victoria Steam Mills [left on Goad's 1899 insurance map]. Herbert Henry Gates was in partnership with George Hewett until 1892, and then until 1895 with Charles Murray Hornibrook as Drug, Grist and Spice Grinders and also Mica, Coal Dust, Charcoal, Plumbago, and Fuller's Earth Merchants and Grinders at Victoria Steam Mills, Fairclough St, when Hornibrook continued the business (living at 105a Haverstock Hill in Hampstead. He was an amateur poet, perhaps involved in amateur dramatics, publishing between 1908-11 various Lyrics, including some 'for private circulation to composers and editors' and others 'for musical comedy, pantomime, or variety numbers', Redruth, a collection of verses entitled simply High, and The Telegraphic Kiss - a notion which appears to date from an 1887 poem by Mary Ella Tilltson which ends with the words Full oft I think of thee, at morn and dewy even; / When mind is soaring free, and when to task 'tis given. / As science news transmits by air's electric fires, / Souls telegraphic kiss on viewless spirit wires. Right is a contemporary postcard illustrating this curious concept.
He also fancied himself as a copywriter, with
Ideas for Advertising a Cigarette, offering 21 suggestions for an imaginary brand, including verses and riddles such as
Fleecy white clouds across a sky of blue,
Bright golden sunshine piercing white clouds through.
The fragrant mem'ry lingers with me yet,
When our lips shared that Salvo cigarette.
Fancy white paper, curling smokes of blue,  
Bright cold toboacco, piercing paper through,  
Aroma fragrant lingers with me yet,  
When our lips shared that Salvo cigarette.
How does the fragrance of the Salvo cigarette compare with the American dollar?
Because therein a hundred scents lie hid.

(Told to the Marine):
What's the name of the ship that doesn't carry Salvo cigarettes? Hardship.

He was perhaps more honest than most, ending his suggestions
Winged thoughts, like the Phoenix, arise from their fires / Bringing eloquence both to the truthful and to liars.

see here for details of what over the years became a major national haulage firm.

William Meredith founded a bakery in 1830, with William Drew as his principal assistant. After a quarrel Drew set up a rival firm in High Street Shadwell: both prospered. In 1871 Henry Anthony Meredith left the partnership with William Frederick and George, then established at 58 Christian Street as steam biscuit makers. By 1890 these premises were inadequate, and the Shadwell firm too much for one man; so the founders' sons Frederick Meredith and Lear J. Drew put their quarrel aside and merged as Meredith & Drew (the agreement was endorsed in 1891, the order of their names decided by the toss of a coin). In 1892 they had an office at 181 Queen Victoria Street, and in 1896 they took on the business and premises of Francis Lemann at Field Place, St John's Street Clerkenwell and 28-29 St Swithuns Lane in the City, for £2500. They made crisps and biscuits, including one 'for cyclists' [right]. Goad's map of 1899 showed the Christian Street premises as stables, but with a series of bakers' ovens, across the road, between Christian and Brunswick Streets, in basements and under the street.

In 1905 Meredith & Drew merged with the small firm of Wright & Son which had 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. After the merger Wright & Son remained as a subsidiary to preserve goodwill, and Wright became a dynamic managing director.

As it continued to grow, the firm continued to produce a single product in each plant, and this was to prove a strength. Left is a wartime distribution of biscuits in the East End. Their head office moved to Ashby-de-la-Zouch in Leicestershire. Right are some advertisements from the 1950s. In 1967 it became part of United Biscuits and part of the UB KP division, together with Kenyon Sons & Craven Ltd, nut processors since 1891.

had an engineering works at 44 Christian Street (Goad's 1899 insurance map, left, shows their premises, between Christian and Grove Street, noting two areas where patterns were stored), and also traded from 67 Lord Street in Liverpool.
His son Frank Walter Scott, who had been articled to a German firm and then ran his father's drawing office, designed and constructed a gas-compressing plant plant at the Royal Institution and developed various items of hydraulic machinery [example right]; he was an Associate Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers. His brother Frederick, of 94 Cannon Street Road, was a 'county engineer'. In 1896 Frank Walter Scott the younger withdrew from the partnership with Frank Walter the elder and Ernest George. The Chemical Trade Journal & Chemical Engineer of 1920 reported that In the recovery of volatile solvents, H. J. Pooley and G. Scott and Son have patented apparatus whereby the whole of the air or gas in a heated drying chamber is circulated rapidly by a large fan and a small proportion is continuously removed by a small fan, passed through a recovery plant, reheated, and returned to the chamber. Heat is conveniently applied to the air or gas at a point in the suction pipe of the large fan. In 1923 a patent was granted to G. Scott & Son (London) Ltd and H.J. Pooley for apparatus for drying and impregnating insulated electrical cables, and in 1933 (with G.W. Riley) for vacuum distillation of high-boiling products.

Berner Estate

South of Boyd and Ellen Streets (which remain) up to the railway viaduct were narrow back streets: Mary Ann, Servern(e), Splidts [formerly Terrace], Elizabeth [now Stutfield]  and Phil(l)ip [renamed Philchurch Street, of which Philchurch Place is a reminder], and courts such as Prince of Orange Court. Henry and Everard Street were to the north. Along Mary Ann and Philchurch Street were the small late Victorian blocks Ruth Mansions, Beatrice House, Elsie House, Doris House and Lilian House [left before demolition in 1975]. They housed various waves of immigrants, some of whom became naturalised (eg Wladyslaw Zuarawski, a marine engineer from Poland in 1955, and Mohamed Jamah Dualeh and Mahamoud Mohamed Ali, from 'Somaliland' in 1972) or changed their names (eg Issy Hescovitch to Sidney Hurst, Joseph Rabinovitch to Richard Joseph Rayner, and (British-born) Jenny Waitkakis to Jean Kearney all in 1941, and Abraham Schlazer to Alfred Slater in 1943). Bloomah Eva (Evelyn) Eisenberg, born in Ellen House, Splidts Street, married Benjamin Blacker, a tailor in 1937 at Jubilee Street Great Syngagogue; they lived in Lilian House until they emigrated to California. There was a synagogue on Philip Street. Beatrice Ali, in The Good Deeds of a Good Woman (Dobson 1976) describes her mixed-race marriage to a sailor, and life in Elsie House, where the rent was 10s. 8d. a week. Right - 25 Philchurch Street before demolition.

The area was redeveloped by the London County Council before and after World War II as the Berner Estate. Everard House, 1934-36, between Boyd and Ellen Streets is a long five-storey range, with access balconies and 'streamlined' corners; the top floor laundry rooms became additional flats in the 1950s [left - rear in 1938, and front and rear today]. Batson House [right] is similar, as is the post-war Hanson House on Pinchin Street. Hadfield, Kindersley and Langmore Houses form a U-shaped composition, begun in 1949 and refurbished in the 1990s. East of Stutfield Street is Halliday House, of 1961-62, an 8-storey block with corner balconies.Also right are the later Bicknell House (Ellen Street) and Harkness House.

Philchurch Place now houses Wapping Women's Centre, established in 1981 to empower women of the Bangladeshi community. It runs a childcare centre (Playzone), breakfast and luncheon clubs, and arts projects; but most significantly, under the leadership of Sufia Alam, a community garden established in 1999 in a derelict and verminous space between three of the housing blocks, where women (with discreet support from their men!) now grow vegetables, herbs and flowers; the 26 plots are carefully managed and allocated to residents, who swap seeds, are 'eco-champions', and hold an annual competition with prizes for the largest vegetables, on the lines of a traditional village fete, and participate in the Healthy Chula programme.

Pinchin Street (formerly Thomas Street, presumably renamed named for Pinchin & Johnson, below) runs alongside the railway viadact which led north from the main line to the London, Tilbury & Southend Railway's goods depot on Commercial Road, opened in 1886, one of several short spurs to goods stations and depots in the area [map right]. At the same time, a hydraulic pumping station to power the equipment shifting wagons to and from street level was built in nearby Hooper Street - see here for details. The street's main claim to fame is as a 'Ripper site'. On 10 September 1889 a headless female torso, possibly that of Linda Hart, a local prostitute, was found under one of the railway arches - many sites refer!

Hard up against the viaduct was Frederick Street, long gone. The goods depot closed in 1967 and most of the viaduct was demolished, leaving a short spur which campaigners have fought to save as a nature space [left], a space housing local businesses in the arches, and to prevent further local overcrowding. Here are various views of the street, including arch no.15 some years ago where a 'traditional' craft was practised. Among current businesses 'under the arches' is the Hand & Eye Press, started in 1985 at no.6 and using traditional letterpress technology; far right shows the space typically in one of the units.

At the eastern end of Pinchin Street, beyond the arches, are two interesting buildings - one old, one new. At no.2 [left, 3 views] on the corner with Christian Street - formerly the site of a pub, the Blacksmith Arms - is the Pinchin Street Studios and Group Practice, constructed in 2007 by Urban Space Management Ltd from 35 shipping containers to provide ten units: a doctors' surgery on the first two floors, office space on the next three, and with a roof garden and plant nursery with spectacular views. Sadly, it is currently vacant. (See here for another similar building.) Next door [right, two views], at no.4 is the former warehouse (now flats) of Pinchin and Johnson, a paint company selling oils and turpentines started in 1834 in Silvertown. They opened branches around the world, and were listed on the original FT 30 index. In 1960 it was bought by Courtaulds who merged it with International Paints in 1968. ('L' prefix codes for nitro-cellulose car paints refer to their products.) Opposite is a mosque, the East London Markazi Masjid.

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