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Learn more about East London’s infamous and famous people. From Jack The Ripper to Alf Garnett.

History of The Stratford Martyrs

If you visit the churchyard of the Church of St John the Evangelist in Stratford, you can see a memorial to the Stratford Martyrs. According to some, this marks the approximate location where 13 people were burned at the stake by Queen Mary I because of their religious beliefs.

The Stratford Martyrs – The Marian Persecutions

By the time Mary inherited the throne from her brother, Edward VI, England was long used to religious turmoil and conflict between Protestants and Catholics.

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Joseph Merrick, the Elephant Man.

Although not born in the East End, Joseph Merrick spent much of his life in the area and died in the Royal London Hospital on Whitechapel Road. Known for much of his life, and in popular culture ever since, as the “Elephant Man”, Merrick suffered from an unknown condition that left him severely deformed.

Famous East End Characters the “Elephant Man”

Exhibited as a freak for much of his adult life, his time in the East End may well have been the happiest and safest of his adult life.

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Ikey Solomon, Famous East London Characters

The East End of London has had its fair share of characters over the years. Some are famous in good ways; others are more infamous. Ikey Solomon, a well-known figure in the Houndsditch area in Victorian times, certainly qualifies on the infamous scale.

Infamous Ikey Solomon

Some people even think that Dickens modelled the character of Fagin in Oliver Twist on this well-known criminal.

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Clement Attlee Prime Minister from 1945 to 1951

Clement Attlee was Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1945 to 1951. Although born in Putney, Attlee had a lot of connections with the East End, particularly in Limehouse and Stepney. He lived in the area from the early part of the century until 1922.

Clement Attlee’s Life in the East End of London

He began his political career in these areas,

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Isambard Kingdom Brunel and East London

The famous engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel has a couple of close connections with the East End of London. He worked on the world’s first underwater tunnel, the Thames Tunnel, with his father Marc Isambard Brunel.


This tunnel crossed under the Thames from Wapping to Rotherhithe. In his later career, he also built and launched one of the world’s greatest ships,

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Bryant and May Strike Bow East London

During the 19th century the match manufacturer, Bryant and May, was one of the main employers in Bow in the East End of London. Although playing with matches is, as we all know, dangerous; at that time just making matches could be deadly. Most of the people working in the factory were women, known as match girls.

The Bryant and May Match Girls Strike

During its most busy period,

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The London Burkers, Bodysnatching

Shoreditch may be most well known for its mention in the Oranges and Lemons nursery rhyme, but the area has also had some grisly moments over the years, like most of the East End of London. In the 1830s, it gained some infamy as the home of the London Burkers, a group of body snatchers who tried to make a less than honest living by creating corpses to sell.

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Daniel Mendoza and Bethnal Green

One of the most famous residents of Bethnal Green was the boxer, Daniel Mendoza, who was also known as “Mendoza the Jew”. Mendoza was born in Aldgate but settled in Bethnal Green, where he lived for over thirty years, boxed at the height of his fame and where he raised his family.


He also helped put the area on the map as a centre of boxing excellence.

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William Booth Founder of The Salvation Army

William Booth is best known as the founder of the Salvation Army. Although he wasn’t born in London, he did many good works in the East End, helping improve the living conditions of many people living in Whitechapel.

William Booth, the Salvation Army and Whitechapel

He also founded the Salvation Army on Whitechapel Road.

Booth was born in Nottingham in 1829.

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Sylvia Pankhurst and The Suffragette Movement

Although she was born in Manchester, Sylvia Pankhurst had strong connections to the East End of London, particularly in Bow. A leading member of the women’s suffrage movement in the early 1900s, she, her mother Emmeline and her sister Christabel, fought tirelessly for women’s rights and equality.


Sylvia’s work in Bow and the East End in general, however, did more than simply help women;

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Alf Garnett East London’s Famous Resident.

If you were watching TV in the 1960s and 1970s, the chances are you can remember Alf Garnett and the comedy series “Till Death Us Do Part” and the 1980s follow-up, “In Sickness and in Health.” This Wapping boy may not seem to show the best of the East End at times, but he was an introduction to the area for many people living outside of London who had no real idea where Wapping was.

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Who Was Jack The Ripper of Whitechapel?

Without a doubt, Jack the Ripper is the UK’s most infamous serial killer. If you can describe this kind of individual as being popular, then Jack is the main man who tops all popularity polls. Our fascination with him is partly down to the fact that his crimes were so horrific and partly because we have no idea who he really was.


Countless newspaper reports,

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Ripper Walks in the East End

London’s East End was the home turf of the UK’s most notorious serial killer, Jack the Ripper. If you want to re-trace his steps and learn more about his crimes, then you might enjoy taking a Ripper walk through the area. It’s actually fairly easy to find these crime scenes as he murdered most of his victims in public places.

Walk in the Footsteps of Jack;

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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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