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Historical events and places in London’s East End.

Free Museums in London

Visit the Top 5 Museums in London

London is one of the most famous cities in the world, and it boasts an impressive range of excellent museums. If you are planning a trip to London in the near future, try to visit one of the five best museums in the city, all of which are free to enter.

1. The Natural History Museum

This impressive museum in South Kensington is the place to go to find out all about the natural world.

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The Sinking of The Princess Alice

A tale of a pleasure trip on the River Thames from London Bridge that turned into a terrible tragedy that shocked the nation. The text is taken from a book passed down to me by my grandfather called: Fifty Great Disasters & Tragedies That Shocked The World. Published in the opening years of the 1930s and a book I read many times as a young child. Fascinated by the stories.

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MacDonald Syer Ltd – 1949 Margate Kent.

My grandfather (left back row) worked for MacDonald Syers for many years. They were a lift engineering and electrical business based in Calvin Street, Shoreditch East London.


Here they all are very smartly dressed on a works outing to the seaside. Margate in Kent in June 1949.

Photo taken by Sunbeam Photo Ltd,

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Coventry Road Ilford Essex

Here are a couple of images from the house I grew up in. Most of Ilford in Essex was built up around the late 1800s, during the Victorian style of architecture.


I can remember I used to talk to my friend who lived next door through our bedroom walls.

Long before soundproofing and cavity insulation was thought of. Also every house had a lovely tiled front path,

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My Grandfather – Lift Engineer and Electrician.

My grandfather worked for a company based in Calvin Street, Shoreditch, East London. He spent most of his working life as a lift engineer / electrician in London.


Pre and post WW2. Here he is in action, working on machinery that must now be very very old!

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London Police Officers – Old Photos.

I’ve just started to go through my old photo albums and scan in some of the more interesting London images.

What I Know About This Photo.

The chap standing on the left is my grandfather’s step-father. He was one of the founders of the Met Police’s flying squad. A highly trained fast response police driver. I can assume that they have attended a burglary or attempted burglary at A.

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Henry VIII and East London History

If you walk past the BSix Sixth Form College building in Hackney’s Clapton area, you may not notice anything too unusual about the site. But, this was once the site of one of the most impressive Tudor homes in the East End and, at one point in time, it was one of the royal palaces of Henry VIII.


The original building that came to be known as King’s Place and latterly Brooke House,

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East London Food

The East End of London offers some interesting options for local cuisine not found anywhere else in the capital, or in the rest of the UK for that matter. You may have to dig around a little to find some of these once-common traditional delicacies, but, if you want to experience real East End life, this is certainly worth doing!

London’s East End Food

The area is also renowned for other cuisines introduced by immigrants over the years.

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History of Bow Brewery

The East End of London has been home to many major breweries over the years and even to a couple of distinctive types of beers. In the 19th century, the Mann, Crosman and Paulin’s brewery in Whitechapel created a beer that is held to be the daddy of the modern brown ales that are still drunk today.


In Bow, a brewer called George Hodgson and his son created India Pale Ale at the Bow Brewery,

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Poplar Upper North Street School Disaster

When we think about war damage in London, we tend to think about the Second World War. After all, the Blitz in 1940 caused significant damage all over the East End. Many civilians lost their lives, their homes and their places of work in the East End.


This area was a natural target for bombing raids, as it was so close to the docklands areas that were vital to the war effort.

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The Battle of Cable Street – East London

In the 1930s, one narrow East End street, Cable Street, became the location for one of the most famous anti-fascist clashes in England’s history. On the day, local residents fought against the fascist and anti-Semitic principles of Sir Oswald Mosley and his Blackshirt followers.


The Battle of Cable Street has become a celebrated anti-fascist event.

Oswald Mosley and the East End

Oswald Mosley was a politician who switched across the Conservative and Labour parties before setting up the British Union of Fascists in 1932.

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Second World War Bombing Raid South Hallsville School

One of the worst incidents to involve civilians during a Second World War bombing raid took place in South Hallsville School in Agate Street in Canning Town in 1940.

For years, people believed that the highest number of civilian casualties in an air raid had happened in another area of the East End, when an accident at Bethnal Green tube station killed 173 people in 1943. The official casualty rates for the South Hallsville School bomb were 77,

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Billingsgate Market Brief History

Now located in the East End’s financial capital, Canary Wharf, Billingsgate is one of the capitals’ best known fresh produce markets and its oldest wholesale market. Held to be the leading inland fish market in the country, Billingsgate has a long history, dating back to the 1400s, if not further.

Billingsgate’s Early History

Historically, people couldn’t set up a market without a royal charter.

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London East End Street Names

Like all of London, the East End is rich in history. Despite modernisation and rebuilding initiatives over the years, you can still find older hidden gems in the area. This isn’t just about historic buildings, streets and scary small alleyways where Jack the Ripper probably walked.

Odd East End Street Names

The East End also still retains some curious old street names with interesting stories behind them that teach us something about the area.

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History of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry

The Whitechapel Bell Foundry is one of the most famous manufacturers of bells in the world. The foundry was located in the heart of the East End, the foundry is also the oldest manufacturing company in Britain, according to the Guinness Book of Records. It has made some of the best known bells in the world, including Big Ben and the Liberty Bell.

Whitechapel Bell Foundry, The Oldest Manufacturing Company in Britain.

The foundry was first formally established in 1570,

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London’s East End and The Blitz

During the Second World War, the Germans started a range of strategic bombing missions across Britain. The worst of the bombing raids came to be known as the Blitz. This is an abbreviation of the German word “blitzkrieg”, or lightning strike.


Starting in 1940, the Blitz devastated many major cities in the country – London came under particular pressure and, at height of the Blitz,

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V1 and V2 Rocket Attacks in East London

In the early years of the Second World War, bombing raids tended to use traditional bombs and incendiary devices. These were used to great effect in sustained attacks during the Blitz, for example. However, later in the war, the Germans developed new technologies and created the V1 and V2 rockets or flying bombs.


These were long-range artillery weapons that could be launched on Britain from Germany.

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The East End in the 1950s

The BBC’s Call the Midwife is one of the channel’s most popular shows. Set in the East End of London in the 1950s, this is a heart-warming programme that also gives us an insight into just what life was like in the East End during this period. Covering the work done by the nuns and midwives based at a convent, Nonnatus House, in Poplar, the show takes us back to an East End that was soon to change.

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The East End Dwellings Company

Housing has been a historical problem in London’s East End. This was once always a heavily populated area, with workers living there to be close to their jobs on the docks and on industrial sites. There was often a lack of decent housing, which together with the relative poverty of the area, resulted in many people living in sub-standard and squalid conditions.

The East End Dwellings Company History

During the Victorian age,

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The Silvertown Explosion of 1917 – WW1 History

One of worst disasters of the First World War in the country happened at Silvertown in West Ham in the East End of London. This was not down to bombing raids or action by the Germans, but was as the result of a simple accident.

The Silvertown Explosion at West Ham.

This happened in 1917 when TNT in a munitions factory owned by Brunner-Mond caught fire and exploded.

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The Thames Tunnel. Connecting East London

The Thames Tunnel, built between 1825 and 1843 was the first underwater tunnel in the world. It spans the Thames between Rotherhithe and Wapping in the East End of London and introduced the UK to the Brunel family.

The Thames Tunnel – Connecting Wapping and Rotherhithe.

The tunnel was conceived by Marc Isambard Brunel, father of Isambard Kingdom Brunel,

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The Ragged School Museum

The Ragged School Museum is located in Mile End, close to Mile End Park. The building was originally the largest of London’s free schools for poor children, known as the Copperfield Road Free School. It is a museum that is a great visit with kids (you can show them how lucky they really are!) but is also fascinating for adults as it really brings social history and the conditions of the East End’s poor families to life.

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East End Gangsters, The Krays

Over the centuries, the East End has always been a bit of a crime hot spot. Its position on the outskirts of the city, its often overcrowded population and its poor and relatively deprived conditions compared to the rest of London often made this one of the least safe areas to visit and live in the capital.

East End Gangsters

In crime terms,

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London Olympics, East End Regeneration

The East End of London has seen more changes than most other areas in the city in recent years. Following severe damage during the Second World War, much of the area was rebuilt.


Despite this fact, the area did not ever really regain its former status as a hub of docklands industry.

The Olympics and the Regeneration of the East End

Recently,

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World War 2 and East London

Local Eastenders will tell you that there were a lot of changes to the area after the Second World War and some parts were probably unrecognisable from the way they looked in pre-war years.

The East End in the Second World War

The area was heavily targeted and bombed by the Germans, and much of the regeneration in the East End came about in the late 1940s and 1950s to repair war damage and rebuild local infrastructures that had disappeared.

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London’s Execution Dock in Wapping

The Port of London used to be the biggest port in the world; it is still the second largest in the country. The location of the Thames and the river’s sea access has played a major part in the general history of London, making it a significant trading site for centuries. Sea access also brought some negatives to the city, however, as it attracted smugglers, pirates and mutineers.

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History of The East London Cockney

Although some foreigners and people living in other places in the UK, assume that all Londoners are cockneys, this isn’t technically 100% true.

The East London Cockney.

You can technically only be a Cockney if you were born in the East End of the city. To be really specific, you must have been born within the sound of Bow bells. These are the bells of St Mary-le-Bow church in Cheapside.

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Bethnal Green Tube Disaster of WWII

Bethnal Green tube station is located in the heart of London’s East End. It is the site of one of the worst disasters in the country during the Second World War, even though it wasn’t in use as a station and didn’t take a direct hit in bombing raids.

The Bethnal Green Tube Disaster of 1943

On March 3rd 1943,

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Recent Comments

  • A.J.Spencer on London East End Street NamesI am looking for any information on Rosher Row ? It was still there in the 1960's as I remember taking my G/Friend of the time to meet my aunt Ett
  • JM Tubbs on Manchester Hotel | Aldersgate Street | WW2 PhotosMy great great grandfather Henry Thomas Tubbs and his business partner Joseph Lewis built this hotel and owned it for a time after it was opened. The initial cost in 1879 was around £70,000. It originally had 240 bedrooms but was expanded. There was a second main entrance on Long
  • JM Tubbs on Manchester Hotel | Aldersgate Street | WW2 PhotosYou could check the 1911 census. Either a subscription or a local studies library should have one you can use.
  • Charles Sage on History of Canning Town East LondonI was born in 1939 and lived in Beckton rd , I can rememember after the war going to the Queens theatre in poplar to see the variety shows , I think the compare was called Buttons,does anyone else remember the theatre.
  • Margaret Knight ( nee Key ) on The History of Beckton Gas WorksMy father was a stoker at the gas works and we lived in one of the company houses , 46 WinsorTerrace until I married in 1957,
  • Charles Sage on History of Canning Town East LondonPatlrick , We lived very close to Hermit rd after moving from Beckton rd in fact we drove along there this very day , we went to the cemetery to take flowers to put on my parents grave. To put it bluntly Canning Town is like a foreign country now
  • Naz on Alf Garnett East London’s Famous Resident.Barnet is not rhyming slang for Alf Garnett, it is rhyming slang for Barnett Fair, that piece of slang was in use well before Johnny Speight wrote TDUDP
  • Patrick Blake-Kerry on History of Canning Town East LondonMakes me laugh, the talk of hop picking as I ended up living in Hampshire as my mum and brother were bombed out and evacuated in 1940. They ended up in Bentley because it was the only place the driver knew outside London. Conversly having stayed and live in Bentley
  • Charlie sage on History of Canning Town East LondonHi Alfie Brown ! I remember the hop picking very well they were great times down China farm , the old huts lightig the fires going so mum could get dinner going , that long walk to the shop opposite the green hill, Bert doing the toilets , scrumping in
  • Carol Featherstone on Second World War Bombing Raid South Hallsville SchoolMy nan and grandad Pat and Emily Murphy were killed in the school leaving my mum an orphan at six she was brought up by her nan Lou McKay
  • Tim Conlan on History of Poplar East LondonGrindley and Co of 21 to 23 Broomfield Street, Poplar, London, E 1868 Company established. 1914 Tar and rosin distillers. Specialities: insulating and transformer oils, black varnishes, soluble drier preparations, motor and other greases.
  • Jane on History of Canning Town East LondonThank you, Ray, that's such a helpful reply - much appreciated.,
  • A.J.Spencer on London’s East End and The BlitzMy grand parents lived in Canning Town during the Blitz and I cannot find any trace of them on any records. I am looking especially pertaining to John William Spencer who lived at 66 Bidder St, Canning town in 1913
  • Ken Shelton on History of Canning Town East LondonHi there, I went to both of the Stratford Grammar Schools - the first one next to West Ham Park was just around the corner from where we lived, on Shirley Rd. I remember there was a tuck shop on the corner. Lots of memories from there - thanks for
  • Elaine Ford on History of Poplar East LondonDoes anyone know of a company called 'Grindleys' ? or similar, was based in Poplar in the 1940's (I believe) and was eventually pulled down. I'm writing a tribute for a gentleman who worked there, he was 99 years old. The family are not sure of the spelling of the

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