Explore East London

London’s East End is situated, unsurprisingly enough, in the eastern side of the city. Often ignored by tourists who clamour for the glamour of the West End, this area is actually steeped in history with interesting things to see and do.

The East End of London; An Introduction

It is also relatively quiet in tourist terms so makes a great day out if you want some downtime. Home of the traditional Londoner, the Cockney, today’s East End is a melting pot of different cultures.

So, what can we tell you on a whistle-stop tour? Yes, some of your preconceptions about the area are probably true. You can still buy jellied eels and pie and mash from traditional shops. Locals born within the sound of Bow Bells still qualify as being Cockneys and rhyming slang is not quite brown bread yet. You won’t meet the Eastenders cast as they don’t actually film in the area, but you may meet some similar characters.

A Brief Guide To East London, The Place, The History

London Underground
London Underground

But, as any true crime lover will tell you, there is more than this to the area. London’s East End was home to one of the most notorious serial killers of all time, Jack the Ripper.

You can still walk through some of the narrow and constricting alleys that he used. Although they may never be as dark, smoggy and, frankly, scary as they were in his day, they paint a good picture of what life was like in Victorian London.

If you visit the old wharves and streets near the docks in the area, you’ll feel like you are stepping back in time. Used by Charles Dickens in so many of his novels, you’ll get a feel for what life was like for characters like the Artful Dodger and Fagin, who was in fact thought to have been based on a local fence, Ikey Solomon.

East London Villains

Then, we have the Kray twins, the East End’s most famous gangsters, who brought a mix of glamour and fear to the area in the 1960s. The brothers were media darlings and socialised with celebrities and politicians. They also ruled the East End and terrorised people who got in their way. No visit to the area is complete without a trip to the Blind Beggar pub in Whitechapel which was the site of one of their most outrageous murders when Ronnie Kray shot George Cornell.

Today’s East End is vibrant and buzzy and is probably the best place to experience the many different cultures that make up the population of London. It is THE place to have a curry in the capital! It also has some curious and popular markets, including Petticoat Lane, Spitalfields, Brick Lane, Columbia Road, Whitechapel and Roman Road. If you want to visit some authentic and untouristy pubs then you’ll find plenty dotted around its back streets.

Museums and Art Galleries

East London Transport
East London Transport

The area is also rich in art galleries and museums. Over the last 30 or so years, it has become home to many artists, including Tracey Emin, and galleries like the White Cube, Whitechapel Gallery and Brick Lane Gallery are all worth a visit.

The flagship museum of the East End is the V&A Museum of Childhood but you can also see the Museum of the London Docklands and the Geffrye Museum if you venture out of the city.

The Dennis Severs’ House in Spitalfields gives a slice of old East End history. This museum recreates the home of Huguenot silk weavers in the 18th century and, for an extra thrill, is described by Time Out as being “proper spooky”! If you want to see for yourself how East Enders used to party, try taking one of the weekly tours of Wilton’s Music Hall in Whitechapel.

East London Sport and Leisure

If you want some down-time, you can find green spaces even in this urban area. Victoria Park, known as Vicky Park to locals, is a relaxing large park that also has plenty of activities for kids in the holidays and that is home to various festivals. You can also do some of the Lea Valley walk along some of the area’s canals.

London Olympics Stadium - East London

If you are a sports fan, try getting a ticket to West Ham, the main football team of the East End. If you go to Stratford, you can also take a look at the Olympic Park, the site of the hugely successful 2012 Olympics.

Take a trip to the upper floors in John Lewis for a great overall view of the stadia and site. The Park is being landscaped and converted for leisure use so, if you time your visit right, you may also be able to take a walk or cycle around it.

The East End may be a real cultural mix now but you’ll find that all its residents share a sense of community that you don’t find elsewhere in the capital. Traditionally a poor cousin to more affluent areas of London, East Enders are tight-knit and proud of their heritage.

If you’re really lucky on your visit to London you’ll get an East End cabbie in your black cab – there’s no better way to learn about the area than by chatting to a local!

East London History – East End Facts

Malcolm Oakley - East London Facts - A Guide to London's East End.

I grew up on the fringes of London’s true East End and have been fascinated by the ever changing history and landscape of the area.

Visitors and tourists to London may only ever explore the City centre but for those that care to travel further east, a rich and rewarding travel adventure awaits. So much of London’s history owes a debt to the East End. Colourful characters, famous architecture, hidden treasures of changing life over the years.

Author by Malcolm Oakley


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  • Nora 18th March 2019 at 3:50 pm on Hughes Mansions Stepney | WW2 PhotosMy mother lived there and during war lost one of her sisters after last bomb dropped. My mother was a war bride and came to America and would go back
  • Toni hills 17th March 2019 at 12:20 pm on London East End Street NamesHi all I lived at number 27 Murray square my name then was mason I had two sisters Tina and Debbie my mum and dads name was Jim and pat
  • Toni hills 16th March 2019 at 4:24 pm on History of Canning Town East LondonI lived in murrary square number 27 until 1969
  • Toni hills 16th March 2019 at 4:05 pm on History of Canning Town East LondonI lived in murray square aswell we moved to kent in 1969
  • Toni hills 16th March 2019 at 3:59 pm on History of Canning Town East LondonHi hun i went to star lane secondary i also lived in custom house when ronan point fell we watched it fall
  • Anthony Spencer 16th March 2019 at 1:35 pm on London East End Street NamesI am trying to find details of "Rosher Row Stratford" I have found "Rosher Close" but cannot find any references to Rosher Row. I am 99.9% certain it was Rosher
  • James Toone 16th March 2019 at 7:35 am on London East End Street NamesI've only just found this website; hence my late response. Yes, 'The Balloon' was the name of an inn: a member of my family, Hugh Hopley, apparently was, in the
  • Lisa Davies 14th March 2019 at 2:31 pm on History of Canning Town East LondonYes cribbs was across the road, I lived opposite The White House for 25 years on Shirley Street til 2005, I never see coffins in the windows... Still give me
  • Tom Garnell 14th March 2019 at 11:23 am on History of Canning Town East LondonThe White House was really The Hallsville Tavern. It was a triangular pub facing up Raffy. I hated passing Cribbs with all the coffins, empty I suppose, standing in the
  • Tom Garnell 14th March 2019 at 11:21 am on History of Canning Town East LondonI was born in Plaistow, Beatrice Street backing on to Chargeable Lane, moved at the outbreak of war to Dale Road, bombed out in March 1941. My father worked for
  • Valerie Connelly 14th March 2019 at 7:15 am on The Silvertown Explosion of 1917 – WW1 HistoryMy grandmother Nell Greenwood had a ship's laundry in Constance Street, Silvertown where she serviced the ships in the docks. My mother was a small baby at the time of
  • Mackenzie Smith 13th March 2019 at 9:45 pm on History of Canning Town East LondonI remember ian the son who went to a private school when he came home on a school holidays he would call round my house to play I'm not Jewish
  • Mackenzie Smith 13th March 2019 at 9:18 pm on History of Canning Town East LondonYes the white house opposite was cribbs the undertaker
  • Ann Terry 13th March 2019 at 6:00 pm on History of Canning Town East LondonHi Elaine Apparently my father (now deceased) named Lewis (Louis) Terry was fostered to an Aunt in Clarence Road, Canning Town in the 1920s, her name was Fanny Wells and
  • stanley Marshall 12th March 2019 at 9:37 pm on Britannia Theatre Shoreditch | WW2 PhotosHello all, I find these memories amazing. I was born in Bethnal Green 81 years ago. I found out recently that my GGG G D, had a daughter who was
  • Jane 12th March 2019 at 5:46 pm on Britannia Theatre Shoreditch | WW2 PhotosLoving these East London posts, Malcolm! Would be interested in 19th century silk weaving stories. An ancestor who lived on London Street, Bethnal Green (where the rail line goes through
  • Pauline Williams 12th March 2019 at 4:18 pm on White Horse Hotel East Ham | WW2 PhotosMy fathers first wife and son aged 4 were killed in an air raid in Gyledune Gardens in 1944 they were the only casualties in that area that night. The
  • Stan Marshall 12th March 2019 at 3:20 pm on Hughes Mansions Stepney | WW2 PhotosVallence Rd., had some very interesting tenants, especially at 178. Iremmber the address as I also lived at 178 But not Vallence RD. I did go to school with the
  • Tim 12th March 2019 at 3:06 pm on White Horse Hotel East Ham | WW2 PhotosPub was rebuilt (am not sure when), but has now been demolished and new flats being built as we speak.
  • Mackenzie Smith 12th March 2019 at 2:25 pm on History of Canning Town East LondonYes the pub opposite caters supermarket ,before the supermarket I lived in the round top Nisson huts ,I was Born in Howard's road plaistow 1948 I lived in Lawrence street
  • Bry Carling 12th March 2019 at 12:16 pm on History of The East London CockneyMy dad’s people were from Mile End... they came there from Yorkshire in 1820. The family had 22 children quite a number of which survived. 14 to be exact. I
  • Frank Oakley 12th March 2019 at 11:44 am on Hackney a Brief HistoryI also worked in Hackney on and off till 1995,and still ave family living there,if only I could drive in there and park.
  • Malcolm Oakley 12th March 2019 at 10:46 am on Hackney a Brief HistoryWe share a great surname ;)
  • Gerry O'Neill 10th March 2019 at 11:06 pm on The Silvertown Explosion of 1917 – WW1 HistoryMy great, great uncle worked at the plant. He was, as they said at the time, a "bit simple" and he was only employed to sweep floors. On the day
  • Frank Oakley 10th March 2019 at 10:08 pm on Hackney a Brief HistoryI lived in Homerton from 1940 and moved out 1964 to Plaistow when I married.Hackney was a great place too live then.
  • Malcolm Oakley 10th March 2019 at 4:12 pm on Hackney a Brief HistoryThank you for this great story! We really enjoy hearing from people across the globe with East London connections. I only got as far as Ilford to Devon!
  • Joe Clarke 10th March 2019 at 2:20 pm on History of Canning Town East Londonsay 7.30pm? I will be wearing a coat with Saracens on it so you know who I am. Joe
  • Charles sage 10th March 2019 at 2:11 pm on History of Canning Town East LondonHi joe , The Bell pub , what time, Charlie.
  • canadiangal2015 9th March 2019 at 8:01 pm on Hackney a Brief HistoryI was born in the Women's Hospital in Hackney, my parents lived in Leyton until we three immigrated to Vancouver, Canada in 1953 travelling by boat across the Atlantic and
  • Joe Clarke 9th March 2019 at 6:42 pm on History of Canning Town East LondonCharlie - yes that is perfect. Looking forward to it. Joe
  • June Nash 9th March 2019 at 11:24 am on History of Canning Town East LondonHi there I was born and raised in Desford Road, Canning Town, until my family moved to Australia in 1971. Reading the comments here has made so many memories come
  • Charles Sage 9th March 2019 at 10:12 am on History of Canning Town East LondonHi Joe , I can make it on the 26 March how’s that with you , Charlie
  • Vicki Coppell 8th March 2019 at 9:39 pm on History of Canning Town East LondonNo, Lisa, don't remember any Jacksons ( not to say there weren't any) but I do remember a Davies family. They had a german shepherd called Kim that terrified the
  • Lisa Davies 8th March 2019 at 1:12 pm on History of Canning Town East LondonHI B Gee I wonder if you are talking about the Beckton Arms? You used to have the walked along thru back of raffy and past sub way? Or maybe
  • Lisa Davies 8th March 2019 at 12:46 pm on History of Canning Town East LondonI am 38 and Custom house/Canning town is all the same. I know a few families in Murray Square.. A family friends of ours who has been the Decades they

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