Layers of London Project

Valence House is supporting a fantastic new project called Layers of London.

The project aim is to capture people’s memories of specific areas, and allows members of the public to upload content (memories, photos etc) to an online map.

They are hosting a training day on Tuesday 18th July, from 11am - 1pm, where you can learn all about the project, see it in action and find out how you can get involved.


East End Family History Day

FHD Poster v1

Surname Interests


You can now manage your own surname interests online in the Member Area.


New Message Board

The new Message Board has been implemented in the Member Area.

You can post Requests for Assistance, make Surname Connections with, and send private messages to, other members.

To activate your password click on ‘Reset password’ on the login screen.


AGM Feedback

If you attended the AGM last Saturday, please don’t forget to send us your feedback.

You can view responses received to date here.

We will publish the Chairman’s responses when all feedback has been received.

Society Membership

What happens to lapsed members at an AGM

As outlined in the Summer Edition of Cockney Ancestor 2016, the Society has implemented a new online membership database.

The old database was becoming difficult to administer and also prevented us from offering improved online services to our members.

Last September’s renewal period proved especially taxing.

Many members appeared not to have noticed our pleas to ensure they paid the correct subscription fees or change their standing orders.

The Membership Secretary and Webmaster spend many hours on the telephone and by email resolving the ensuing problems.

These problems have now been resolved although it has to be noted, many members have still not renewed on time!

For information, and as detailed in Cockney Ancestor, members who failed to renew by 31st December 2016 are now deemed to be lapsed members and will therefore need to re-join the Society.

Please bear this in mind if you intend to vote at the forthcoming AGM.

Annual General Meeting 2017


Annual General Meeting


The Museum of London

28th January 2017


Society Day starts at 10:00am

Download a copy of the Agenda

Download a copy of the Annual Accounts 2015-16


Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives

Saturday 3rd September 2-3pm

Author Joyce Hampton will discuss her book 'Looking Back: a century of life in Bethnal Green', which is both a family memoir and an exploration of the area's fascinating history from 1862 to 1962.

The event is free and no booking required.

School Talks

School 21 in Stratford is delivering a drama/history project on WW2 next term and is very keen to include stories from the local community.

The school would like to get in touch with either WW2 survivors or perhaps family members who can share their stories with their students.

The students are keen to hear authentic stories and about genuine experiences at first hand.

If you would like to participate, please contact our Projects Co-ordinator

CA 151 Summer 2016 Available for Download

Image courtesy of David Groen

The Summer 2016 edition of Cockney Ancestor is available for downloading from the Members’ Message Board.

The Front cover illustration is a studio portrait of two women munition workers proudly showing off their war service badges. More information on the work done by the women working in the munitions factories can be found in David Groen’s article on page 9.

Member Area

As a result of the article in the latest edition of Cockney Ancestor, several tenacious members attempted to login via the Test User Group today.

As the system is not yet live, we do apologise for any frustration those members may have felt at not being able to login.

We are rapidly approaching our annual renewal period and hope members will remember to notify us of their up-to-date email address because your email address will be your login name.

Please bear with us during our most hectic time of year but you will be advised by individual email (assuming we have your email address of course) when you will be given access the Member Area.

This is likely to be sometime towards the end of September when the bulk of our annual renewals has taken place and we have (we hope) your up-to-date details!

Thank you for your patience in the matter.

Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives

Film screening: Goodbye Longfellow Road
Saturday 17 September 2016, 2:00 - 3:30pm
Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives
A free screening of rarely seen 'Goodbye Longfellow Road' (1977, 78 mins), a documentary originally broadcast on ITV, telling the story of the residents of a Stepney street. Declared a slum in the 1930s, earmarked for demolition in 1943 but still inhabited in the 1970s: what happened when the bulldozers finally moved in? No booking required.

History Hoppers
Wednesday 20 July 2016, 2.30-4.30pm

Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives
Come along to our monthly drop-in History Hoppers group, where participants will have the chance to explore a variety items from our archive collection relating to the history of the local area, including photographs, old newspapers, letters and diaries. Refreshments provided. Free, no booking required.

Upcoming History Hoppers dates:
Wednesday 17 August, 2.30-4.30pm
Wednesday 21 September, 2.30-4.30pm

Talk: Looking Back - A Century of Life in Bethnal Green
Saturday 3 September 2016, 2-3pm

Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives
Join author Joyce Hampton who will discuss her book 'Looking Back: a century of life in Bethnal Green', which is both a family memoir and an exploration of the area's fascinating history from 1862 to 1962. Free, no booking required.

Talk: The Irish East End
Saturday 1 October 2016, 2-3pm

Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives
Rescheduled from April: join Professor Bronwen Walter, Emerita Professor of Irish Diaspora Studies at Anglia Ruskin University, for this illustrated talk on the history of Irish people in London's East End, focusing on the mid-nineteenth century to the 1960s. Free, no booking required.

Picture of the Month


Preparing shrines in Rook Street, Poplar, in readiness for the Catholic procession, c.1920

Image courtesy of Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives

Suffolk Family History Society Fair


The Suffolk Family History Society Fair and A.G.M.
10am to 4pm Saturday 24th September 2016

Suffolk University Campus
Waterfront Building, Neptune Quay
Ipswich, Suffolk IP1 1QJ


FREE PARKING opposite the venue

For more information see:

Appeal for Society Publications

The Society is in the process of converting its past publications into digital format for loading into an online searchable database.

We are missing copies of publications and are appealing for assistance to members who may still have a copy.

If any member has a copy of the following publications, please contact the Projects Co-ordinator

  • Barking & Dagenham - Barking - Census 1851 index series, vol. 1, part 4
  • Barking & Dagenham - Dagenham & Great Ilford - Census 1851 index series, vol. 1, part 3
  • Havering - Colliers Row - Census 1861 (Essex Census) vol. 1, part 1: RG 9/1068,1069 (part) & 1072
  • Havering - Cranham - Census 1861 (Essex Census) vol. 1, part 1: RG 9/1068,1069 (part) & 1072
  • Havering - Great Warley - Census 1861 (Essex Census) vol. 1, part 1: RG 9/1068,1069 (part) & 1072
  • Havering - Harolds Wood - Census 1861 (Essex Census) vol. 1, part 1: RG 9/1068,1069 (part) & 1072
  • Havering - Havering & Romford - Census 1851 index series, vol. 1, part 2 Havering & Romford
  • Havering - Havering Atte Bower - Census 1861 (Essex Census) vol. 1, part 1: PRO bundles RG 9/1068,1069 (part) & 1072
  • Havering - Hornchurch - Census 1861 (Essex Census) vol. 1, part 1: RG 9/1068,1069 (part) & 1072
  • Havering - Noak Hill - Census 1861 (Essex Census) vol. 1, part 1: RG 9/1068,1069 (part) & 1072
  • Havering - Rainham - Census 1861 (Essex Census) vol. 1, part 1: RG 9/1068,1069 (part) & 1072
  • Havering - Romford - Census 1861 Workhouse (Essex Census) vol. 1, part 1: RG 9/1068,1069 (part) & 1072
  • Havering - Upminster - Census 1861 (Essex Census) vol. 1, part 1: RG 9/1068,1069 (part) & 1072
  • Havering - Wennington - Census 1861 (Essex Census) vol. 1, part 1: RG 9/1068,1069 (part) & 1072
  • Newham - East Ham & Little Ilford - Census 1861 (Essex Census) vol. 2 RG 9/1058

AGM Reports 2016

The 2016 Chairman’s Report and AGM Minutes are now available online.

Key points from Minutes

The Chairman outlined the society’s achievements from the past year and the following key points made:

  • The society has to increase revenue and the Executive Committee is looking at ways to achieve this.

  • All members need to be proactive and encouraged members to volunteer for jobs large and small.

  • The Society planned to review the website and asked members to give the Executive Committee feedback on the changes.

  • Chairman thanked the Executive Committee, the branches and the Editorial Committee for their work and support.

  • In accordance with paragraph 9.2 of the Society’s constitution it was proposed that the following subscription rates should apply:

  • Online membership: £10 per annum

  • UK membership: £15

  • Europe: £20

  • Rest of World: £25

  • The motion was agreed with one vote against.

Read the full versions here

St Mary the Virgin Church Wanstead

A project is currently underway to research the individuals commemorated on the plaques and monuments in this church.

It is hoped that work on this will be completed later this year with a booklet available from the church.

Alternatively the information will become available on the EOLFHS website in the near future.

Temporary closure of Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives Reading Room

The Reading Room remains closed to the public after a partial collapse of its ornate plaster ceiling. Repair works will begin in April and complete at the end of July 2016.

In the meantime, you can book a research appointment to view material in our ground floor Education Room. We are taking bookings for sessions as follows, beginning Tuesday 3 May until the end of July:

Tuesdays and Wednesdays: 10:00-13:00 and 13:30-16:30
Thursdays: 13:30-16:30 and 17:00-19:30

In addition we are taking appointments for the following Saturdays (10:00-13:00 and 13:30-16:30):

June 4 and 18
July 16

New feature added to Surnames of Interest page

The Surnames of Interest page has been updated to list surnames added or changed over the past 30 days.

Have a look here:


Jean Vagg, former EoLFHS Secretary

Those who knew Jean will be saddened to hear that she died on 17th May 2016 the day after her 87th birthday.

In her active years, in addition to being the Society Secretary, Jean was a regular member at the Society's workshop meetings and original meetings held in Stratford, Forest Gate and at Wanstead. She was awarded an honorary life membership in recognition of her work for the Society.

Jean's funeral will be at 2pm at Greenacres Woodland Burial Park, North Weald Epping on Tuesday 31st May 2016.

Stephen Park

Web Site Security

In preparation for new online services to our members, we have increased our security for the web site.

Some of you (depending on your browser ) may notice a small padlock next to our web site name:


This means that all data between yourself and our web site is now encrypted.

This does not affect how you will continue to access or view our web site.

We are aware a very few pages may create a security warning in your browser.

This is because there are links on some of our pages to other web sites whose security is not quite as high as our own and we are working to correct them.

Please be assured that our web site is still completely safe to use and does not hold any of your personal data.



Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives


A fantastic collection of posters advertising shows put on by Poplar Borough Council at its Civic Theatre between 1948 and 1965 are now available in their digital gallery.

The posters can also be searched by name of performer, production or date.

To view the posters simply type in "Poplar Entertainments" into the search box of the digital gallery to bring up all the digitised images:

New Discussion Group

The Society Message Board (hosted at has been experiencing technical problems recently.

As there has been no indication of when the service might be resumed a new Google Discussion Group has been created.

Society members will receive their invitation to join the discussion group in due course or may request an invitation here:

Request your Discussion Group invitation

Your email address is used for logging in.

Annual General Meeting

Annual General Meeting of the East of London Family History Society

Date: Saturday 23rd January 2016

Time: 2.30pm (registration from 2.00pm)

Venue: The Museum of London, No. 1 Warehouse,
London E14 4AL

1. Apologies for Absence
2. Minutes of the Last Meeting and Matters Arising
3. Chairman’s Report
4. Treasurer’s Report
5. Election of Auditor
6. Election of Chairman
7. Election of Officers
8. Motions put before the AGM:

i) in accordance with paragraph 9.2 of the Society’s constitution it is proposed that the following subscription rates should apply:

New rates:
On-line £10
UK £15
Europe £20
Rest of the World £25

9. Any Other Business All

Picture of the Month

Woodstock Terrace, 1957, by William Whiffin

Image courtesy of Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives

Poplar Mortuary Index 1911-1983

A mortuary to cater for the whole of the Metropolitan Borough of Poplar was built on the corner of Cottage Street and Poplar High Street in 1910 which replaced the four former mortuaries of Bickmore Street, St. Leonard's Road, Bow Churchyard and Wellington Road (see Poplar Borough Council's Annual Report for 1910-11, pp. 156-161, for a plan and further details of the new mortuary). With the creation of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets in 1965, it became the Tower Hamlets Public Mortuary.

The Poplar Mortuary Index was produced by Life Member, Jack Jackson as a personal study over many visits he made to the Tower Hamlets Local History Library. It contains in alphabetical order almost 11,500 records of deceased persons passing through the Mortuary between 1911 until 1983.

Headings used in the POPLAR MORTUARY BOOKS

1. Number.*
2. Date of Admission of Body.*
3. Name and Surname of Deceased.*
4. Age.*
5. Last Abode of Deceased.
6. Signature, Name and Address of Applicant for Admission of Body or by whose order deposited and in what manner brought. 7. Name and Address of Nearest Relative.
8. Place from which Body was brought to Mortuary.
9. Supposed cause of Death.
10. Undertaker's Name.
11. Date of intended Burial.
12. Date of Removal from Mortuary.
13. Signature of Person removing Body from Mortuary, or by whose order and in what manner removed.
14. Place of Burial.*
15. Observations (note as to Inquest etc.)

The index is available here for download from the Members' Area

Book Releases

Recycle 4 Charity

A member contacted me recently about difficulty in using the Recycle4Charity web site.

Recycle4Charity collect used printer cartridges and make a donation to the charity of your choice ~ preferably the East of London Family History Society.

Go to

Step 1) On the home screen click on Register Now

Step 2) Further down, and on the same screen, type the word East in the Choose Your Charity box.

A drop down list of charities beginning with the word East will appear.

Select East of London FH Society - C916

Step 3) Check you've selected the correct charity at the top left of the next screen:

Add your name and address details so they can send you the envelopes for returning to them containing your used ink cartridges.

Step 4) On the next screen choose envelopes (better for home users) rather than boxes.

• Epson or Kodak cartridges
• Damaged cartridges
• Cartridges that have been previously refilled
• Cartridges that have been labelled for another brand like Tesco, PC World or Office Depo
• Cartridges with labels removed or extra holes (signs that refilling has been attempted)

Thorpe Hall School

In the recent winter edition of Cockney Ancestor, member 244 submitted a photograph taken from mid to late 1940s:

Her Grandmother was given the photograph as she knew the little girl on the front row, fourth from left, dressed as the Queen of Hearts.

The school has been identified as Thorpe Hall Primary School, Walthamstow:

If anyone would like the photograph for their collection, please contact the webmaster

Picture of the Month

An unusual interior photograph by William Whiffin showing staff at work in Poplar Borough Council's Drawing Office, Poplar High Street, 1937.

Watch out for an exhibition of Whiffin's East End photographs coming up at THLHLA later in the year.

Image courtesy of Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives.

Image courtesy of Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives

In Memoriam

It is with great sadness I have to announce the sudden death of Sharon Aylward (member 11298) on the 13th January 2015.

Sharon was a member of the society since May 2005 and had taken on the role of programme secretary for the Barking & Dagenham Branch from February 2006.

She also helped on the Society Store, reviewed many books for Cockney Ancestor, attended local events, assisted at the WDYTYA shows and for the last 3 or so years helped with the monthly Society Help Desk at Valence House.

She will be greatly missed as a friend and colleague.

Melissa Ford, Chairwoman

Picture of the Month

A balloon ascent from Poplar Recreation Ground during a fête organised by the East London Licensed Victuallers, c.1892. Photographer: William Whiffin.

Image courtesy of Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives

Picture of the Month

Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives recently acquired this World War I photographic postcard showing a group of eight soldiers of the 17th London Regiment (Stepney and Poplar Rifles) informally posed in front of bell tents.

The date, location and names of the soldiers are unknown.

Can any reader help with these?

Contact Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives

Picture of the Month

Zeppelin sighting over Belgrave Street, Stepney, during World War One

Image courtesy of Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives.

Image courtesy of Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives

LOWE family, Stratford

We are trying to trace descendants of William and Ethel Maud LOWE (nee PAYNE).

In 1926 the family was living at 125 Maryland Road Stratford and in 1930 at The Cottage, Ninehams Lodge.

We would like anyone with a link to this family and especially the siblings of Ernest Alexander Lowe (born17/11/1926).

The siblings are Alan, Clara, Les, Frank and Arthur.

If you have a connection, please contact Trish Sarago (nee Lowe)

Barking WW2 Civilian Deaths

Barking & Dagenham Archives and Local Studies Centre Valence House
Becontree Avenue

For more information call 020 8227 2033 or e-mail:

Web site


Picture of the Month

Zeppelin over Cotton Street, Poplar, E14

Image courtesy of Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives.

Image courtesy of Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives

NLR Railwaymen & Women

If you have ancestors who worked on the North London Railway this fascinating web site - which includes a database of the names of the railwaymen and women who worked on the NLR - is an absolute goldmine of information.

Initially the NLR ran trains from Camden Town to Poplar and from there via the London & Blackwall Railway to Blackwall and the East India Docks.

As many of the NLR railwaymen and women came from the Poplar area, anyone with family links to the railway will find this web site invaluable in their research. Visit their web site at

Stepney Limehouse Fields 1935 Video

Museum of London Docklands Video

Harry Paul, East End Boxer

The most recent "Cockney Ancestor" cover shows the celebrated East End Boxer, Harry PAUL on the left of the picture.

He was born at 147 Eastfield Street, Limehouse in 1875 and was the son of a rope-maker called William Richard Yew (a misspelling of Hugh) PAUL and Margaret COAP (COPE).

He was baptised and registered as Richard Henry Paul, signed his name Henry, but was known to everyone as Harry. The name Richard only reappeared once, ninety years later, on his death certificate.

Harry was the youngest of 11 known children and his father died when Harry was nine years old.

His full story is described in "Cockney Ancestor" number 141, Winter Edition on page 4.

We have been contacted by his grandson, Nick Paul, who would like to get in touch with anyone who is related.

You can contact Nick Paul here

Thanks Melissa!

Thanks to our Bookstall Manager Melissa Ford and her volunteers for their sterling efforts at WDYTYA at Olympia last week who signed up a total of 76 new members!´╗┐


WDYTYA? 2014

The Society enjoyed a busy 3 days at the "Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2014" event at Olympia on the 20th - 2nd February 2014.

Being the world's biggest family history show, "Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2014" gathered together a huge variety of companies and services involved in family history under one roof.

The East of London Family History Society attracted a lot of interest:

From all the major online resource holders to libraries, museums and dozens of family history societies from across the UK, there was a vast array of exhibitors to provide advice and information.

Looking for BULLOCKS

Bob Hartmann in Australia is researching a great uncle John KNOTT who migrated to Australia in 1912.

His sister Martha Elizabeth KNOTT (aka Lizzie) married Charles Henry BULLOCK.

The family were living in Stepney on the 1911 census (see below).

Bob would like to contact BULLOCK descendants.

Click here to email Bob

Click on the image to open full size

Picture of the Month

Coronation Party held on Jane St, Stepney, June 1953. [LHLA reference : MR/2/5]

This month's picture is from a lovely collection of personal photographs, copies of which were kindly donated to Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives by local resident Mr Melvyn Reeves.

The photographs deposited include images of Cable Street School; Jane Street (demolished 1961); Harry Gosling School, Fairclough Street and Central Foundation Girls' School, Spital Square.

Image courtesy of Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives

CWGC Search for relatives

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission intends to carry out work on a number of the War Graves in the UK.

They wish to make contact with any family members of the casualties concerned.

If you are a relative of any of the casualties listed below, please contact:

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Jenton Road
Leamington Spa
CV31 1XS

Tel: 01926 330137


Click on the image to open in full size

Picture of the Month

Mr Frederick William Vyse, Master Baker, 12 Tapley Street, Poplar c1910

A digital copy of this beautiful photograph was kindly deposited with Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archive in June by Mr Vyse's great-grandaugher, Mrs Jacoba Gale.

The image has now been catalogued and a hard copy print out is available to view in our reading room (image ref: P33862, class: 651.2).

Image courtesy of Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives

Message of thanks

We received the following by email:

Back in Feb 2012 your moderators helped me break down a 25 year old brick wall !!
I would like to post my thanks on the web site even though I am no longer a member just as a thanks in appreciation.
As a result I have successfully gone back to 1555 and made contact through DNA tests with families in Australia,
John Bond

It's always nice to receive a "thank you"…

Google Advanced Search

We recently had an enquiry trying to trace a pub or hotel called The Spear and Pond.

A normal Google search on spear and pond resulted in hundreds of results - mainly to Britney Spears!

You can eliminate unwanted words from your search by using the Google Advanced Search facility.

1) At the bottom right of the Google Search screen, there's a link to Settings.

2) From the pop-up menu select Advanced Search.

3) Simply fill the form in & off you go.

It's very handy for searching someone's name or an address.

Picture of the Month

Image courtesy of Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives.

This month’s picture shows the bombed-out shell of Christ Church Watney Street in 1943.

Built to serve the rapidly expanding population of the district, the foundation stone was laid on March 11th 1840 and the church was consecrated just over a year later. The first vicar was William Quekett who had been a curate at the nearby church of St George in the East since 1829.

The building of grey bricks with stone dressings was in the Romanesque style with two towers with slated pyramidal spires which can be clearly seen.

The church was wrecked by a landmine in April 1941 but the ruins survived for around a further ten years before being cleared.

Image courtesy of Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives

Picture of the month

The 'Millwall and The Island' Horse Omnibus outside West India Dock Station c.1910.

During the 1850s, the first one-horse omnibus began to operate between the Greenwich Ferry and Limehouse, helping to ease heavy traffic congestion on the Isle of Dogs, primarily caused by frequent queues at the Dock bridges. By the 1870s, a number of private horse omnibuses were in operation throughout the island. The bus driver would collect fares through a hatch in the roof of the vehicle. The 'Millwall and The Island' horse omnibus, pictured, served West Ferry Road and Millwall Docks and operated until 16th October 1913, the year during which the London General Omnibus Company introduced motor-bus services.

Image courtesy of Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives

POLLEY Surname

The Society has been contacted about the POLLEY family as follows:

"I live in Cambridgeshire and am a member of Cambs FHS. I have been sorting through some things belonging to a grandfather who came from the Mile End area.

I have found two World War 1 medals inscribed '143907 Gnr A A Polley R A'.

There are no Polleys in my family and I do not know how they came into my grandfather's possession.

If one of your members is researching the Polley family then I will happily send the medals to that person as that is where they belong. "

Contact Mr. Clinton Tweed

Major John Buckley VC

The Society has been contacted by the Lancashire Family History & Heraldry Society with regard to the grave of Major John Buckley VC (1813-1876).

There is growing concern about the condition of his grave in Tower Hamlets Cemetery and there are moves to sort out the grave.

Any information about Major Buckley's family history would be greatly appreciated.

If you are a descendant of Major Buckley or have any information you think might be useful, please contact Mike Coyle, Chairman Lancashire Family History & Heraldry Society here:

Contact Lancashire Family History & Heraldry Society

Picture of the Month

St Andrew’s Hospital, Devons Road, Bromley-by-Bow, c1934

Originally known as the Poplar and Stepney Sick Asylum, this building was opened in 1871 and served the districts of Poplar, Bromley, Bow, Limehouse, Wapping, Shadwell and Ratcliff.

It was one of the first and largest workhouse infirmaries built under the Metropolitan Poor Act of 1867. It was renamed St Andrew’s Hospital in 1925.

The hospital has now been demolished and is being replaced by a large housing scheme called St Andrews.

Image courtesy of Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives

Picture of the Month

This photograph by Poplar photographer William Whiffin shows a Truman’s brewery dray outside the building which was erected in 1927-8 but there had been a tavern here called the White Horse since 1690 or earlier.

The pub’s claim to fame was that in the mid-eighteenth century the licensee was a woman, Mary East (1715-1780), who lived as a man called James Howes and lived “as man and wife” with a woman friend.

The pub was pulled down a few years ago to make way for a housing development. However the remarkable inn sign in the form of a horse made from lead on a post thought to date from the early to mid eighteenth century survives.

Image courtesy of Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives

Picture of the Month

The (future) King's Speech

This picture shows HRH The Duke of York (later King George VI) at the opening of York Hall (named after him) in Bethnal Green in November 1929.

The new Public Baths and Washhouses in Old Ford Road cost about £125,000 and were among the best-equipped and most up-to-date in the country.

The Duke concluded his speech by saying, “We shall always retain very happy memories of our visit here today. We hope we may on some future occasion be able to come here and see you again”.

His subsequent visits to the East End as King George VI were as morale-boosting exercises during World War II.

In the centre of the picture is the Mayor of Bethnal Green, Councillor Wesley Clark Chandler J.P., and to his left the Duchess of York, later Queen Elizabeth.

Mile End Road showing the Peoples' Palace and St. Benet's church, c 1904.

The only structure still standing from this postcard view, partially hidden by trees, is the clock tower of the People’s Palace, now Queen Mary University of London.

The rather grand middle-class housing known as St Helen’s Terrace, dating from the late 1860s was demolished in the 1930s to make way for the new People’s Palace.

On the right is St Benet’s church, built in 1871-2, to the designs of Ewan Christian in the 13th century style. The church was badly damaged by enemy action in August 1940.

Deemed unnecessary under post-war reorganisation, it was demolished in 1950. The college chapel occupies part of its site.

Image courtesy of Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives


I am looking for the English ancestors of John Britton who was born in England about 1672 or 1673 and was living in Henrico County, Virginia by June, 1684.

Since the links between Henrico and London in the 17th century are strong and well documented, I believe that he was sent to Virginia from the London area, probably in the autumn or winter of 1683/4.

DNA results of seven of his descendants indicate that the family was of Anglo-Saxon, Danish Viking, or perhaps Norman stock, with a probable origin somewhere in eastern England.

Even a low-resolution match to another Britton family in England should be proof of common ancestry, because our DNA signature is so rare that we do not match anyone else of any surname within the past 750 to 1,000 years.

Elizabeth Lindsey Britton
Administrator of the Britton DNA Project

You can email me here

AGM 2011

Stratford Old Town Hall

The first talk of the day

Inside Stratford Old Town Hall

´┐╝Inside Stratford Old Town Hall

The Society Book Stall

The Chairman's Report

An Honorary Life Membership presented to Jean Vagg

Vera Bangs hands over to new General Secretary Janet Seward

An Honorary Vice Presidency awarded to Vera Bangs

Picture of the Month

Seventy years ago on 7th September 1940 (or “Black Saturday” as it came to be known) the beginning of the Blitz on London began.

Although there had been sporadic raids prior to this, it was the first time that the capital, and in particular, the East End experienced the intensity of a massed air attack.

The picture shows the damage inflicted on the church of St Matthew, Bethnal Green. The church, which was built in 1743-6, had already witnessed partial destruction in the middle of the nineteenth century following a fire in 1859.

The west end of the church was repaired in 1955 and the rest reconstructed in 1958-1961.

Image courtesy of Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives

Picture of the month

East India Dock Road 1904 courtesy of Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives

East India Dock Road was laid out in 1806-1812 as a “branch” of the Commercial Road (made between 1802 and 1804) to give traffic from the newly completed East India Docks a straight run to London, bypassing Poplar High Street. A forest of masts in the docks can be seen in the distance.

The picture is dominated by the United Methodist Free Church, built 1866-8 in a “modern Italian” style to accommodate 1,500 people. In 1919 it was taken over by the nearby Poplar Methodist Mission and renamed King George’s Hall and was used as a men’s club, Sunday school and concert hall. It was badly damaged in the Second World War.

In the distance can be seen Poplar Railway station (the site of the present All Saints DLR station). This was built for the North London Railway in 1865-6 to replace the former station in Poplar High Street.

Image courtesy of Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives.

Image courtesy of Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives

Picture of the month

Angel Lane, Stratford, 1959.

The white covered portico in the middle of the photograph is the entrance to the Theatre Royal. The poster outside the theatre advertises the Joan Littlewood production of the musical "Make Me An Offer" which opened at the Theatre Royal in October 1959.

Image courtesy of Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives

Picture of the month

This photograph of what is now known simply as Alie Street was taken by Poplar photographer William Whiffin (1878-1957).

It shows an intriguing mix of motorised and horse-drawn traffic.

The left half of the picture is dominated by eighteenth- century buildings with shop fronts, destroyed by enemy action in the Second World War.

Behind the lorry laden with timber, at the corner of Leman Street is the Eastern Dispensary built in 1858, now a public house.

The Dispensary had been founded in 1782 to provide free medical and surgical relief to the poor.

Beyond this building are silhouetted the chimneys of the former St George’s German Lutheran School.

Image courtesy of Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives

Picture of the month

Crossland Square, Bethnal Green, 1954

This picture shows some typical weavers cottages which at one time were very prevalent in Bethnal Green. They are typified by the larger-than-normal windows on the first floor to illuminate the room where the weaving took

Crossland Square was just south of Derbyshire Street. The houses had just been compulsorily purchased by the London County Council as part of the process of creating the appropriately named open space – Weavers Fields.

Image courtesy of Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives

AGM 2010

Eastbury Comprehensive School, Hulse Avenue, Barking.

The calm before the storm

Volunteers ready to sell tickets

Main entrance & reception

The Society stand

Exhibitor's stalls

A busy day on the Society book stall

Assembling for the AGM

Chairman's Report

Vera Bangs and Stephen Park presenting raffle prizes

Another lucky raffle winner