History of Canning Town East London

Like large parts of the East End, Canning Town once had a strong industrial heritage, but the area was originally marshland. As such, for many centuries, the only way to reach Canning Town was to boat or by paying to use a toll bridge. The area opened up in the early 19th century when the Barking Road was built.

This brought with it a larger bridge and more opportunities for connections with the rest of East London.

Before the reign of Queen Victoria, Canning Town had no real significance and it did not even get its name until the Victorian period. It is probably named after Charles Canning. He was a relatively famous and popular character at the time as he had successfully managed the Indian Mutiny in his role as Viceroy of India. Once the area started to be developed, however, it turned into a busy industrial and commercial hub.

Visit Canning Town in East London.

For example, in 1846, the North London train line brought higher levels of industrialisation to this area of the East End. Originally built to transport supplies from the local docks, the opening of the Barking Road passenger station, together with more housing construction, attracted more workers to the area’s chemical, shipbuilding and sugar refining factories. The football team that started in the local ironworks famously went on to become West Ham FC.

By 1855, Canning Town also had a new dock, the Royal Victoria Dock. However, the local water supply and sewage system was not designed to cope with the increasing number of local residents and businesses, and Canning Town became infamous for its slum living conditions, high poverty levels and outbreaks of smallpox and cholera due to its inadequate sanitary conditions.

History of Canning Town’s New Docks

London Docklands and Canary Wharf

London Docklands and Canary Wharf

The increased docklands and shipping activities brought in a new influx of local and overseas workers who needed housing, including a significant community of West African, Caribbean and Asian immigrants. At one point, Canning Town was home to the largest black community in London with over 100 families living in the area.

Many of the capital’s more dangerous industries were historically located in the East End, safely out of the way of the city of London and its more upmarket central areas. Charles Dickens described some of these industries as “offensive”.

This probably relates to the smells they created, as local businesses worked in gut spinning, varnish production and oil boiling at the time. Operating outside of the regulations of the city itself also made it easier for businesses to ignore housing and business regulations, sometimes leading to accidents.

Canning Town was no exception to this rule and the area was affected by a significant accidental explosion at an ammunition factory in nearby Silvertown. Although this accident resulted in a relatively low loss of life, it damaged tens of thousands of local buildings around the East End.

Housing in Canning Town

By the 1930s, housing conditions in Canning Town were so dire that the local council started a program to clear the slums and to provide better social conditions for local residents. Many slum properties were torn down, and new houses, nurseries, medical clinics and even a lido opened in the area. The Second World War also badly affected the area and led to further redevelopment initiatives after the war. Much of the East End was a prime target for German bombers and it is estimated that over 85% of local housing stock was destroyed.

Canning Town was also the scene of one of the worst bombing events in the war, although a government cover up at the time hid the full extent of the incident. In September 1940, local residents were sheltering in the basement of South Hallsville School during an air raid. They were staying in the school because they had been evacuated from their homes.

The school suffered from a direct hit burying all of the sheltering locals under piles of rubble. Reports at the time indicated that around 70 people died in the incident, but it is now believed that close to 600 people died on the site making this the worst civilian casualty rate in a bombing raid during the war.

Modern History: Canning Town Redevelopment

Due to redevelopment programs and damage sustained in the war, much of the housing in and around Canning Town is relatively modern; most rebuilding took the form of new council estates, including a number of high-rise tower blocks, which were popular at the time.

One high-rise block became well-known in the 1960s for all the wrong reasons when a gas explosion caused an entire corner of the block to collapse. It and its surrounding high-rises were demolished to make way for safer, and smaller, houses and the lessons learned from this accident changed the way that high-rises were built. Canning Town still remains a relatively deprived area and is undergoing continuing redevelopment.

East London History - East End Facts

Malcolm Oakley - East London History - 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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126 comments on “History of Canning Town East London
  1. Roger London says:

    My Dad Eddie London worked in Johnson Bros butchers in the Old Rathbone market, and I used work there every Saturday. outside was a stall that sold all types of pickles and pickled herrings the lady who ran it was called Elsie, next to her was Ranson’s fruit & veg stall.

    Next door to Johnsons was Wallis’s general store, on the other side was a Dry cleaners with the old steam press, there was also a clothing shop called Secunders (not sure of the correct spelling). I have just read a book called A East end farewell about Cribbs undertakers who where at the bottom of Rathbone st brought back many memories of the area. my Mum Molly (nee Barron) lived in Mayfield rd, when the old market was closed Johnsons moved to Hermit rd.

  2. CARL MARTIN says:

    Hi, i lived in the old Percy road along by the nissan huts.I went to Star Lane then on to Eastlea. Does anyone remember this area? Just came across this site.

  3. Kate King says:

    I’m from the SEATONS AND WEBBS…. Silvertown and Canningtown…. Circa 1900s…. They moved to Barking and Forestgate in 1920 till 1950….when my Mum married Dennis Collins in Sparsholt Lane. They emigrated to Australia in 1953.

    • Graham Rutledge says:

      My mum’s sister Vera Jones married William Webb who was born in 1920 and lived in Lawrence Street.

  4. Graham Rutledge says:

    I have just opened up some old memories with the publishing of the 1939 register on Ancestry.
    My mum was Gladys Jones born 1924 older sister Vera and younger sister Iris (Bubs). They lived in Maud Street with my grandfather Edwin who was a sewage worker and staunch trade unionist. My maternal grand mother died in 1934 aged 33 when mum was 10. Mum used to talk of Rathbone Street market but I thought nothing of it when growing up, mum and dad died in 2005. Mum was bombed out and moved to New Road Chingford where she met dad at a dance in Walthamstow where dad lived and I was born 55 Glenthorne Road.Mum was bought up I believe by aunt Lena, but was never really talked about. I now have a large family tree on Ancestry but would love to hear from anybody who might have known the family and can fill in some gaps.My grandfather died relatively young at 63 with lung problems almost certainly from his days in the sewers.They are buried in Plaistow cemetery. Thanks Graham Rutledge

  5. Elaine Bailey says:

    My mother, who was born in 1924, lived at 140, Clarence Road with her parents Daisy and Ernest Bailey and her brothers. My mum went to Star Lane school.

  6. jacqui says:

    My Dad was brought up in Brassey house (flats) Hie name was Kenny (kenneth ) Maroni he was good friends with Dennis smith, Anyone know them ?

  7. Margot Farnham says:

    My name is Margot Farnham. My Nan was Dorothy Read and my granddad David Read. His family had a totters yard in Star Lane. Anyone know that family or my Nan’s family who were Adams?

  8. Karen McDonagh says:

    My Mum was born in ‘old canning town’ as she always referred to it. Millicent Hawkins was born in 1926 and lived in bidder street. when the houses were declared slums by the then King and demolished, she moved to Kildare Road. I was born in Plaistow, and have great memories of canning town market from the guy in the butchers who chanted what he was selling. the hot saveloys and peace pudding. the live eels in caters, and the horror of them having their heads chopped off ! but most of all my love of mirkoffs icecream.

    • Diane B says:

      Mirkoff’s!!! I remember that tiny icecream shop. My mum used to take my sister and I there for a treat. The icecream was out of this world – by far the best I had tasted. The old street market (Rathbone Market, also known as Raffy) was a 10 minute walk down our road. I was born in Plaistow Hospital in the mid 60’s and lived in Malmesbury Road, Canning Town, until the houses (called slums) were demolished in 1976 and we moved to Plaistow. Caters supermarket – what memories! I can faintly remember the live eels. Also the laundry on the corner, opposite Caters, where we used to take our washing if it was too difficult to hand wash.

    • Tina says:

      Hi Karen. Whereabouts in Malmesbury? I was born in 1947 at no. 25, then around the age of eight we re-located to no. 80. I went to Star Lane Infant and Junior, then onto Pretoria (now known as Eastleigh). My family name is Burns, and Nichols, also Denwood in Clarence Road.

  9. Tim Slade-coombs says:

    Hi all
    My family had two she’s and two factorys in the canning town area Coombs brothers sold sweets, jam and tea. There offices were in rathbone Street any information would be greatful.

    • Lindsay Farwell says:

      My nan worked at Coombs and I have a letter from them giving her a reference. Her name was Ellen Jones.

  10. TRACEY CONLOGUE says:

    My mother, Patricia Conlogue nee Florey grew up in Randolph Rd, E16. Her mother, Annie and father Sidney both worked at Tate & Lyles. My mother attended Shipman Road Secondary School in the 1950’s and I attended a primary school on Prince Regent’s Lane in the late 1960’s before we relocated to Thetford, Norfolk with Jeyes. I had a great friend called Donna O’Shea who I believe lived on/near Churchill Road.

    Does anyone have any post war pictures of this street or the area that has now been demolished?

    • Vicki Coppell says:

      My husband’s cousin went out with a Rita Florey. My husband also knew this girl from Shipman Road. The cousin’s name was Philip Pigrem.

      • TRACEY CONLOGUE says:

        My aunt is Rita Florey, who would be about 77 now; she moved to Australia about 10 years ago. I am trying to locate any photographs of the area, especially Randolph Road and the primary school on Prince Regent’s Lane that I attended in the late 1960’s.

        • Vicki Coppell says:

          My husband is 77 so roughly the same age as your Aunt Rita. I would say we’re talking about the same Rita. My husband’s name is Ted Coppell and he’s just said that Rita was a lovely girl – he liked her. We came to Australia in 1974. What state does Rita live in?

          • Vicki Coppell says:

            He was in the same class as Rita.😊

          • Tracey Conlogue says:

            I believe she is in Western Australia – I don’t have any contact with her these days. My mum passed away a few months ago and I am annoyed with myself that I didn’t ask her more about ‘the good old days’ as she referred to them. I have found a photo of Shipman Road school on the internet – it looks quite forbidding. However, mum always said the school reminded her of the school in “To Sir With Love” with Sidney Poitier, minus the handsome Mr Poitier of course! I love that movie ; very nostalgic. Mum & Rita used to live at 92 Randolph Road and as a child I moved to no. 54. There were also some prefabs on both sides of the street. I remember going on errands to some shops at the top of Randolph Road and also to the summer reading club at the library. As a family we all ended up in Gorleston-on-sea in Norfolk (near Gt Yarmouth) which is where mum, Rita used to have holidays in the 50’s and 60’s

            Mum used to talk about someone called Rita Millett – does your husband remember her?

    • Joann Emms nee Wheeler says:

      Hi ya Tracey. Donna O Shea died of an overdose some years ago now. I was her friend at Woodside School. I named my daughter after her. She was a wonderful person. I’ve been trying to find any photos of her.

      • TRACEY CONLOGUE says:

        Greetings Joanne,

        I think I have an old school photo of Donna (aged about 6/7). Not sure how to get it to you though – but perhaps you meant you would like one of her as an adult. I see the name Wheeler in your post. My grans family were Wheeler’s (I think my gran was one of 11 children) who lived at 63 Randolph Rd. Any relation that you know of?

    • Jane says:

      Have you read the book “The Sugar Girls about Tate sugar factory? Wonderful book and lots of mentions of Cannong Town, Plaistow. All where my family are from

  11. Cliff Kelly says:

    Born, 1929. I lived at 29 Cave Rd Plaistow.One Sunday in July 1944 . We left the house at approx. 11am. Doodlebug hit it at approx. 12pm . Many neighbours killed and injured. We were lucky. Any one out there know anything about this. Was not evacuated I have lots more info.Live in Kent now.

  12. Vicki Coppell says:

    Did anyone contributing to this page go to or is/was familiar with Stratford Grammar School when it was in Stratford behind West Ham Recreation Park – around 1952-1955. The schoolwas relocated to a site close to The Spotted Dog after that time. If there is someone familiar with the school around that time do they also remember a teacher by the name of Mr. Fieldgate?

  13. Robert Morgan says:

    My grandfather was born in Canning Town (c1898) and lived in 34 (I think) Scott Street. His name was Albert Coulson, son of Joseph Coulson. I am starting to trace this part of my family if anyone can help/is related.

  14. Graham Cresswell says:

    My mother, Hilda Clark, was born at 197 Barking Road, Canning Town to Tom & Sophia (Dolly) Clark. She had three older sisters, Edna, Mary and Mabel (but Mabel died in childhood, I believe) and a younger sister, Pamela. In 1937, the family moved to Barking. My mother died in March 2016, aged 92 and, had she lived another 3 months, would have celebrated the 70th anniversary of her wedding to my father Jack Cresswell – now 98, but not all that well.

  15. Debbie says:

    Hello, I have just came across this site, My maternal G Grandmother (Margaret Alldridge nee Andrews) was born in 1902 at 29 Clarence Rd, Canning Town (as were her sister Ethel 1903 & brother James 1908) by the time she married in 1919 she was living at 32 Clarence Rd. My grandmother was also born Canning Town, most of my maternal side came from Canning Town, Poplar, Bow, West Ham, at some point though they moved out to Southend & Romford.

  16. Brian Johnson says:

    I was brought up in 42 Morgan st canning town until. I moved to 8 Lambert Rd custom house I’m wondering if any one remembers the name of the men’s Taylors shop in Rathbone st in 1964 where I got my wedding suit does any one remembers Bacon bills shop

    • Steve says:

      Was that shop billy bangers on hay day rd

    • Rodney says:

      Reading all of this is very interesting , my Mum is still hale and hearty at 94 years young and still living in the Cotswold Village that she was evacuated to ,after they were Bombed out of their house in MALMSBURY ROAD ,CANNING TOWN . My DAD no longer with us ,lived in RANDOLPH ROAD ,CUSTOM HOUSE , he and his Family were also evacuated to the same Village , he was in the ROYAL NAVY and my Mum did welding on Lancaster Bombers . Funny enough , my Paternal Grandparents returned to Randolph road after the War and when my Grandad died in late sixties ,my Nan came back to the Village , My Maternal Grandma stayed in the Village for the rest of her life. I wonder if there are any people out there that would have known them or the Family ? I was trying to remember what my school my DAD went to , he first worked in the Paragon factory when he left school, my MUM went to Star Lane School which is still in use today, I know because my Nephew was a Teacher there a few years ago.

    • Pat Smith says:

      My husband also had his wedding suit made at this tailors, in 1969. The shop was called Pollock’s, I think the tailors were 2 brothers. It was THE PLACE to go for wedding suits, I remember my husband had several fittings before they were satisfied it was just right

      • Lorna Cowan says:

        My husband worked for Lamson Paragon. He and many of his friends had their business suits made by Pollocks.. they were beautifully tailored.

    • richard j hodnett says:

      i think it was called pollocks,it was orrigonaly on the barking road,if you got a suit out of pollocks in the sixtys you had made it.my spelling will tell you that i was born in canning town.

    • miike botten says:

      it was called granditers

  17. Bambi gee says:

    My family came from custom houe went all the time to rathbone market my nan had a row of two ups at the bottom of rafy market lisa willis opposite pub cant remember name of pub mary and jackie murphy were her daughter and son in law we moved to essex when l was 8but every wknd was back there my. Parents were jack and joyce willis

    • Mary Andrews says:

      It’s a pity my Dad is not around today he would have loved remembering all those names from the past. I still have the scales he used to sell and check and I use them all the time. I am sure no one will want them when I am gone. It is still great that someone remembers those times.

    • alan says:

      the royal oak

    • SamSerrell says:

      I think Jack might have been my nan’s cousin. Her name was Lou Grim (nee Willis) her mum and dad were James and Rebecca Willis.

  18. Mary Andrews nee Arnold says:

    I was born in 1938 at St.Mary’s Hospital but my Father had a scalemaker & hardware shop at 121 Rathbone Street, Canning Town. His father started the business in 1866 but of course with war my Father was bombed out and moved to Essex. I don’t suppose there are any survivors from that era but it would be interesting to find out.

    • I was born in 5 Ford Street (off Rathbone market) in 1930 and have been trying to find out the name of the shop my grandmother (Emma Garner) had close by. It was a General store (not very big) and I have found picture of my old school (St.lukes) along with the church where I attended, I was evacuated but my parents were bombed out and moved to Rainham village in Essex. Wish I had been more interested in research when my parents were alive to tell me. Now I hanker to be able to tell my grandchildren a more detailed history. I loved Rathbone Street at Xmas. the stalls carried lit lamps on corners of stalls, smell of roasting chestnuts and the butchers selling of the turkeys outside the shops, the boxes of tangerines wrapped in their orange papers all added to the thrill.

  19. Mary Andrews nee Arnold says:

    I was born in 1938 in St.Mary’s Hospital, but my Father had his Scalemaker and hardware shop in 121 Rathbone Street, Canning Town which had been started by his Father in 1866 Samuel Ashmore Arnold. My Father’s job was to check all the Stallholders scales to make sure they were accurate. He was of course bombed out and we had to move to Essex. We did in my youth visit the market to catch up with people, one of them Mrs Olley. I think her shop was jellied eels but it may have been pies. I still have the scales he made so long ago. I don’t suppose there are many of the old timers from there left now but just maybe there might be some survivors.

    • Janice brown josch says:

      I have already commented elsewhere on this site, my dear Auntil, Edith Hughes, had a vegetable stall on the Rathbone market, originally her Father’s, R Hughes, he was trading during wartime and my Aunt, came back to Canning Town in the war as her evacuation place wasn’t nice. She is a great character, lived in Canning Town all her life. . She is now 91 and still full of life and love
      If anyone knows her please let me know

    • Jean Hyett says:

      Hi Mary. Lovely to read your comment. I remember my Mum going in to the pie and eel shop. Like all Londoners she loved her pie and mash and jellied eels !

  20. Barbara willson-Graham says:

    My Family are from Canning Town and Custom House any still do. my nan still lives there and is 95. My Granddad past way this year he was born in 1920. They had some great stories about the area. I live close by and it is changing so much, not always for the best I fear, it great to hear the memories of people.

  21. Janice brown josch says:

    Hi, my dear Aunt, still alive and well at 91 years, had a fruit and veg stall at one point quite near to Caters, the supermarket when it was there. That was when I used to go there. But the stall was her Father’s. . R Hughes, and was trading through the war. My aunt Edie Hughes took it over and worked there until she retired. Does anyone remember her? Or Johnny, the guy who helped her. Would love to hear any stories from anyone that does .. she is really rather special, stayed in Canning Town all through the war and she is a very important person to me. Thanks to anyone reading this. Janice .. I am in the book about the Market, when the Ships come in .. as a toddler

    • Barbara willson-Graham says:

      Hello I know aunt Edie I used to help her on the stall when I was young. on hr days off she used to take me and by brothers and sisters to the beach in her estate car. She is a lovely lady. I used to shovel the snow from her path in the winter. I hope she is well. Edie is my Nan’s cousin I think.

      • Janice Brown josch says:

        Thank you so much for this .. so sorry have not been to this site for ages
        What is the name of your Nans cousin, if it is ok to share it
        Yes, she used to love taking her Mother to the seaside and loved children so she would have been so happy to take you out in her car
        She had a really hard life but considered herself lucky and was content with nothing
        I am writing in the past tense, she is still alive and well but whisked away a few years ago from her home, friends and livelihood to a care home in Norfolk by my posh sister who hardly knows her
        My Aunt still considers it is temporary and still talks of returning to her friends and going to the local place in London she signed herself up for
        Lovely lady .. thanks so much for writing

    • Barbara willson-Graham says:

      I remember Aunt Edie she is my nan’s cousin I think. I hope she is well

  22. Patrick Kerry says:

    My dad reckoned world war 2 was the best thing that ever happened to him and mum.

    She was from Poplar, he was from Hermit Rd, Canning Town. George and anne Kerry. My brother was born in 38 and my dad was in a reserved occupation when war broke out. They were bombed out on 1940 and Mum Gran and bro jumped on a lorry that was leaving the area. The driver picked his way thro’ London and made his way to the only place he knew outside London. The village of Bentley in Hampshire where he had been a hop picker before the war.

    Mum and bro were allocated a room in a farm house the day after they arrived having spent the 1st night in a hopping hut. Gran went back to Canning town cos granddad was working on the rail system in the V and A docks. They got bombed our again but still stayed. Dad was finally allowed to join up and spent 4 yrs in the RAF in Nigeria and Belgian Congo a real cushy number comparatively speaking but his younger brother Stan was sank by the Yanks while a Jap POW after Singapore defeat.

    Mum and 2 year old bro stayed on the farm for the rest of the war and were joined by dad after demob in 46. They all stayed on the farm for several more years finally settling in a new council house in the village where they had 3 more kids, me included. Gran and Granddad stayed in Canning Town, finally ending up in a 2 room flat in a terrace house in Star Lane, no bathroom, outside toilet, landlord constantly wanting them out. They deserved more! Granddad died in 66, gran in 79. We lived the life of Riley in our wonderful village in Hampshire….huge garden plus allotment…played in the woods and barns, swam in the river Wey. But my parents where always Londoners…

    I spent my life worshipping a certain team in Green St and travelled regularly to see grandparents, aunts, uncles…..and Bobby Moore. Haven’t been back in 30 years and google earth street scene shows the changes, but my, wouldn’t the folks who have passed be so proud of the East End Olympics.

    • Patrick Kerry says:

      So sorry about terrible spelling and punctuation.
      Had been working all day and I find that, at 67 things get sloppy, especially when using a phone rather than a keyboard

    • Hello Patrick, thank you so much for your story. I used to drive through the village of Bentley most mornings as I returned home from Heathrow Airport to Whitehill in Hampshire, where I lived for 4 years around 2001.
      I’m now living in mid Devon and haven’t been back to East London for a couple of years now, but yes…how it’s changed so much.

      I know the area very well around Fleet, Farnham, Petersfield etc.

  23. Jean Hyett says:

    Hi Malcolm. I was born in 98 Hayday Road, Canning Town in 1946 . I remember riding my tricycle around the block, past the bomb site that me and my brother used to play on, also past a shop I knew as Forinos, they also sold the most delicious ice cream, with pieces of lemon ice in it. Also on one corner was what we knew as Lennie’s oil shop where presumably we bought the paraffin. I had an aunt in Kildare Road and another in Tinto Road. Opposite our house on the other side of a the road was a paper shop where we bought a bottle of Tizer every Sunday to have with our dinner ! I also used to love going to Rathbone Street where my Aunt always bought me a warm sarsparilla and my mother always bought our clothes, all second hand of course. I started school at Denmark Street School but wasn’t there for long as we moved to Devon in 1952. Wonderful memories.

    • Leah Buckingham says:

      We moved to Edward Street in Canning Town in 1961/2 when I was 5 years old. I remember Mr Forino’s shop, right on the corner. I remember the ice cream and the lemon ice. You could have a mixed cornet! I went to Keir Hardie School and in the summer, if I was good, Mum would buy me an ice cream on the way home. I walked to school with Mum and crossed what is now the A13.
      My Mum is 95 and still lives in Canning Town. I moved to Kent over 30 years ago but go back to visit Mum every week. There have been so many changes, Canning Town is almost unrecognisable. Rathbone Street market has gone and the area is being gentrified. Sad really. All that East End character gone.

      • Mary Andrews says:

        I looked up my Dad’s address on google and found it is now a crossroad. 121 Rathbone Street and I still have the business card showing the business started in 1866. I also have a photo of him with a stall outside his shop selling all the hardware. I may well scan it and put it on here just to add to the history.

      • Vicki Coppell says:

        I remember a small shop on the corner of Coolfin Rd and Butchers Road that we used to call ‘Greeny’s’. This was in the 50’s is this the shop that you knew as Forinos? Also several people have mentioned Keir Hardie school. I’m certain that there was no such school in the 50’s. Does anyone know when the school was built or is it an old school renamed?

      • Barry ives says:

        We moved to Edward street in 60/61 I was born in 49 and we lived with my nan in Chadwin road, I went to tollgate school.When my brother came along in 59 it moved us up the list, hence the new house in Edward street.I remember forinos from my time at south west ham tech, used to spend our dinner money on single ciggies, yeah great memories

    • Carole says:

      Hi, my Nan lived in Hayday Rd. I was born in 1961, and I remember the shop opposite you. Like others I remember the live eels in the supermarket at ‘Raffy market’ as my mum called it. My mum and dad met at the Paragon and married at St Cedds church. I remember being taken to the Lido on warm days. Im trying to remember the name of the grocers shop on the main road leading down to Woolworths that sold loose macaroni and other stuff out of large tubs – was it Maceys or something?

      • Bill says:

        Does anyone remember the newsagent on the corner of Hayday and Ling Roads? I first remember it as Harry’s but Harry died in the early 1960s and it became Reg’s.

        • Brian Snowdon says:

          I remember it well . My Nan used to take me there and buy 2 comics Film Fun and Radio Fun, and put some money on a card for the Annuals at Christmas.I lived in Kildare Road, and I used to go to the greengrocers opposite Harry’s newsagent shop. The greengrocers was Sall’s ,I believe I called her aunt Sall as she new my Mum quite well. No problem with plastic bags , you took your own bag and everything went in- potatoes, fruit etc. Happy Days.

  24. Ash M says:

    Hi Roger

    It sounds like the same Esther. I used to work with her at The Scotch House on Regent St. That was nearly 17 years ago.

  25. Ash M says:

    Hi Malcolm
    You mentioned that your grandmother cleaned a Jewish lady’s house in Gant’s Hill…was her name Esther?

    • Hello, the lady was called Sadie Rinkoff.

    • I once drove Esther back to her home in Gants Hill, from an Anti-Nazi rally where she had been speaking. She invited me into her home where I met her husband. She showed me many of his paintings. Each one pictured a Polish village. As we looked at each, he sadly shook his head and said, ‘No more, no more, all gone’. He was a lovely man.

  26. Billy Adams, Jr. says:

    MY Grandfather, Billy Adams, was a Lightweight Champion from Canning Town, London. Became the Lightweight Champ of West Virginia (USA) and got Jack Dempsey to give his gloves to his son (my Dad). Billy Adams sparred at “sporting shows,’ most advertised was the world heavyweight champ “Battling Hooker’. He had to for the money; Professional or “Prize Fighting” was illegal. Would send pics but website does not allow.

  27. alan says:

    Anyone remember Feacey butchers Dale road bobs grocers corner avondale /percey road and wrens sweet shop in clarence road

    • robert malyon says:

      HI, I was born in 1949 , at No 4 Clarence Road. I have very strong memories of Wrens sweet shop. Do you remember the fizzy sherbert drinks that he made from a big red bubble machine, served in a jam jar for 1 penny?

    • Jane Brignull says:

      Dear Alan,
      My mum’s family lived in Dale Road – do you know if it still exists?

      • ronald raymond hunt-terry nee ronald smith says:

        hello l;m sorry to say that dale road has gone l believe its now a park. l grew up in dale road from 1945 to 1954 no 121 when we moved to the next street clifton road no 77 next to the bombed church yard can any one remember my father riding around the street on his speedway bike in the early fiftys he was called ray terry and was known as the duke of canning town ,when l was a lad we used to walk to peggy leg bridge and stand there as the trains whent underneath l can smell that steam from the trains kind regards

  28. Kate Stilliard says:

    I was born in Canning Town in 1948, and lived in Chester Road. My mother’s family name was Cridland and my father’s was Speight. I remember Murcoff’s ice cream, particularity the lemon ice which was a type of sorbet, which was my favourite. I also remember the old Rathbone street market, particularity the stall that sold cordials including sarsaparilla, and buying roll mops out of a barrel for 3d each, I think. There was a lady there who used to grate horseradish to sell, her eyes permanently running. When the new Rathbone market was built I remember a fish stall run by Kathy Thake (I think) where my dad would buy live eels, and the wonder of a supermarket! Caters where the novelty was picking up a wire basket and helping yourself! My aunt ran Popkin’s fish shop down the Hermit Road – signed ‘Fish, wet dried and fried’, she was always good for a bag of crackling.

    • Thank you for your story. I love heading memories like this, I know the other blog readers do too.

      • Lyn Clark says:

        My husband John Sidney Clark, went to Harold Street School. He was born in 1941.
        His family still live in the East End.
        This June We’re going on holiday to visit them.
        We’re staying on The Isle of Dogs.
        I’m an East End Tragic!!
        Love the history.
        I was born in Auckland, New Zealand and we now live in Perth, Western Australia.
        Lyn Clark

    • I used to have a market stall at Christ Street Market, selling Christmas decorations. The nearby Pound Shop used to check my prices and undercut me. As a result I never made a profit. After giving up I became a teacher at Royal Docks Community School, Custom House. I am shortly publishing a novel set in wartime Canning Town.

    • Leah Buckingham says:

      Murcoff’s! I loved the ice cream from that place and I’ve never found anything that tastes like it and believe me, I’ve tried!
      I remember having hot sarsaparilla.
      My Nan would only have fish from Thakes and if you bought it anywhere else, she knew! When she went to live with my cousin in Wiltshire and we visited, we had to buy bowls of jellied eels for her and take them with us!
      There was also a stall where the lady sold buttons. Hundreds of buttons! If you lost a button from a coat or jacket you could go to the stall and find one to match. My Mum knitted jumpers for my children and would buy novelty buttons from the stall. I can’t remember the lady’s name.

  29. Bill Collar says:

    Just come across this site which I find very interesting. My mother was born in Charford Road in 1923 and her sister in Tree Road, Custom House in 1911. Their father and other family members worked at the Docks. The family home was bombed but everyone returned to Canning Town (Ling Road) to live, except my mum, who married and moved to Essex. It was my second home during the 1960s and early 1970s. I remember the trolleybuses and Murkoff’s ice cream! I also remember buying fish and chips from Billy Betts shop in New Barn Street but cannot find any reference to it anywhere. My mum’s aunt lived at No. 1 Beckton Road, which was demolished for the flyover to be built. Her son was Eddy Grimstead who ran the motorcycle business.

    • Thank you Bill for your great comment. I am a fair bit younger but remembered Eddy Grimstead’s! Wow a memory from the past.

    • CARL Martin says:

      hi i have just came across this site .Was her son named Gary who ran the motor cycle shop and car dealer ship in East Ham by the old hartley centre.

  30. Dee says:

    Pat Jolly I know a Brian Jolly who now lives in Cornwall but whose famy are from Canning Town. Any relation? I am trying to find a connection between his family and mine and was interested to see your comment about Jolly’s Greengrocers. My Grandad Parker had a Greengrocers shop as did his parents. They were bombed out during the war and moved to Essex. My Gt Aunt bought a house in Goodmayes and we went to live with her. She was in the rag trade and did business with a lot of Jewish people. I use to do fashions shows at Bodgers as my babysitter worked there!

    • pat jolly says:

      Hi Dee
      I cannot say for definite if Brian Jolly is a branch of my family or not..My grandfather and great granfather didnt seem to keep closr ties with their siblings..So i know very little about them..My gt grandfsthrr came from Suffolk and he must have had siblings but they are all a mystery to me..So sorry cant help you..x

  31. David Bradley says:

    Malcolm, I believe that the shop Vicki remembers was called Murkoff’s in the Barking Rd along where the Ordnance Pub was, the best Ice Cream I have ever tasted.
    I lived in Rogers Rd.

  32. Vicki Coppell says:

    Pat, the shop I remember did sell ice cream through a window at the front of the shop. Just mentioned this story to my husband and he says the shop is where you say but he doesn’t remember what it was called.He also thinks I may have got my memories mixed up and that Rossi’s ice cream was sold in Southend. Does anyone know?
    My husband’s aunt used to have a toy stall in the market. She had the stall for quite a few years.

  33. Peter says:

    Born in Percy rd in1947, in a nissen hut.My nan lived in Rathbone st. when it was the market place, remember the live well stall, the fortune teller at the start of the road. Remember the street party for coronation day,won a model of a tractor for winning a race. Anyone got any photos.

    • Vicki Coppell says:

      Peter, yes I do remember Rathbone St. market. I went to Clarkson St school that backed onto the market. Used to spend lunch time in the market. Bought a pennorth of broken biscuits out of my lunch money and Horlicks and/or Fishermans Friend tablets. I also remember the live eel stall (I think that’s what you meant) and the sarsparella stall. The fortune teller singled me out by name one lunchtime (didn’t know her from Adam). This was a couple weeks before the eleven plus, she told me not to worry – that I would pass and go to grammar school. She also told me I would go far overseas to live (I have been in Australia since 1974) and have a family of three children. All that came to pass so I’m now hoping that her prophecy of a long life also comes to fruition 😀.
      Do you also remember Rossi’s ice cream just round the corner from the market. Best ice cream ever.

      • Pat Jolly says:

        Think you mean Murkoffs Ice Cream….

        • Vicki Coppell says:

          Maybe Pat but I only remember it as Rossi’s.

          • Pat Jolly says:

            hi Vicki…if it was the sweet shop next to the Ordnance arms pub and directly across the road to Canning Town Public Hall then it would be Murkoffs..they used to sell the ice cream outta the front window. They were Jewish and nade their own ice cream..
            There is a FB site called Memories of Canning Town that people put photos on. Murkoffs crops up from time to time.. Or i have a couple of pics..if you wanna see em i can Message them to you..let me know..

  34. Elizabeth Livingston says:

    I lived in Canning Town in flats called Mansfied Buildings in 1948-54. Are they still there. I now live in Australia. Left the UK in 1954 with my family.

    • Vicki Coppell says:

      I think those flats are what I remember as the Manot Road buildings. I think they came down under slum clearance.

    • G Walker says:

      yes they were named Mansfield Buildings Right next to Star Lane School. People get them muddled with Manor Buildings which were round the corner on Manor Road My dad lived there from 1928 to 1938 My granddad new it was the wrong place to be as a war was coming. The buildings are no longer there but Star Lane school is. We took my 95 year old father back there few years back and walked over the bridge where the old railway was I think he called them inky pinky steps Don’t quote me. The boys used to stand on the top and try and throw stones down the steam engine funnels nice to have my dad around for the memories

      • Tina says:

        Yes I remember them, I had a friend that lived there. I went to Star Lane School infant and juniors. I was born in 25 Malmesbury Road 1947.

  35. Meneesy says:

    My Grandmother was born in Malmesbury Road. I would love to know what housing looked like back in the 1890s as a huge proportion of her family lived in places like Swanscombe Street Woodstock Street. Wouldham Street and the list goes on. My Grandmother was of German descent, and her grandfather worked in sugar refining. Love to hear stories of this place.

  36. Denise kidd says:

    Is this the same Jollys greengrocer that had a shop on Hermit road Canning Town opposite the sweet shop Tarrants? I also lost my uncle in the Ronan Point explosion as well would love to know more details about a memorial 4 people died if my memory servers me right?

  37. Vicki Coppell says:

    Just a couple of facts to add to your article. The slum clearance in Canning Town/Custom House after WW2 resulted in the creation of what was known as the Keir Hardie Estate. The estate was named for James Keir Hardie, the first
    Labour MP and a member of the first Labour government, the Ramsey McDonald Labour government. He had previously been an independent and represented West Ham South in the early years of the 1900s.
    The ‘infamous’ towers you mentioned were Ronan Point, Patterson Point. There was a third but I’ve long forgotten the name. My sister-in-law lived in Patterson Point and it was Ronan Point that lost one corner of the top floors through an explosion. Local rumour had that someone was storing gelignite ‘under bed’ but the more prosaic reason for the explosion was probably a gas leak.
    The tower blocks were a cheap and nasty way of housing the less well off. From memory the grounds were not well looked after and the lifts always stank of urine. I was thankful that my family had been rehoused in a decent, attractive environment long before those monstrosities were built.

    • Pat Jolly says:

      I lived on the Kier Hardie Estate..from 1952…In Tarling Road near St Lukes church…I also know the Tower blocks you refer to, Merrit Point, Ronan Point Dodson Point Abrahams Point and several more. My sister lived in Merrit and I lived in Dodson…Ronan point was in fact a gas explosion it happened on the 15th floor…My dad’s cousin and his wife both died in the disaster…As a matter of fact i and a friend have been in contact for the last two years to have a memorial put in place for the victims…The area of Freemasons Road will be undergoing a large refurb to go along with the new Crossrail Line at Custom House Station…Newham Council have agreed to it…it is just a matter to decide where to place it…
      The Beckton area was reclaimed marshland..I also lived there from 1983 off Tollgate Road….Many properties today still suffer subsidence because of the ground..

      • Vicki Coppell says:

        Pat, I’m sorry you lost family in that Ronan Point disaster. I had moved away from the area by then but most of my family still lived off Freemasons Road. My sister-in-law lived in Patterson Point at the time of the explosion and my husband’s aunt lived in the third tower block. I remember only those three being there, perhaps the others were built at a later date.
        I moved from there to Chingford then to Walthamstow and on to Brentwood and finally left the country for good in 1974.

  38. Pat Jolly says:

    Hi Malcolm..I lived in Brunel Street off the Silvertown Way from 1946.. before moving to Tarling Road..My family name is Jolly, we were greengrocers and we had stalls down the old Rathbone Street, before taking over shosp in the early 50s. Our shop was just across the railway lines from the Victoria Dock…I have written a book about growing up in Canning Town…It’s called ‘A Jolly Time in Canning Town’ by me Patricia Jolly…..available on Amazon, Newham Bookshop and Waterstones…The heart has gone out of it now…but still i return often

    • Hello, thank you for your comment. I was born early ’70s and East London still seemed to be just about hanging onto the “old ways”. I remember seeing the derelict dock cranes, the rag and bone man on a horse and cart. Everything going silent for Remembrance Sunday at 11am.

      The pace of change nowadays is so rapid that I struggle to recognise parts of Ilford where I grew up. The rat runs my grandfather would drive to take us all to Kings Cross to visit his mum etc.

      • Pat Jolly says:

        You lived in Ilford eh…In my younger days Ilford was ‘posh’…lot of money people there…A lot of Jewish people lived there…Jewish people loved a fur coat..My aunt had a mink fur coat and a mink fur jacket made over Ilford…Being as my family were in business they mixed with other business families and one of them was Jewish..The lady if that family took my aunt to the furriers and told him what my aunt wanted..Then she said the skins had to be female mink…My aunt didn’t argue..Apparently female mink is softer that male mink…My aunt is now 92.. She wanted me to have her fur coats..they woulda been too small for me, but i suggested that my cousin would like them…It was only recently that they were given to my cousin. I found the bill for the Full length coat dating back to 1967.. £3,000.. My aunt only wore it a few times..then left it in the wardrobe cos the animal rights people were throwing paint over people wearing fur coats in the 70s…I used to like shopping in Bodgers…they did nice stuff..

        • My grandmother used to clean a house for a Jewish lady who lived in Gants Hill. I still remember the lady’s name to this day. My grandparents lived near Kings Cross station and moved to Ilford in the very early ’60s. Certainly was a step up from their tiny flat in a Victorian block in Tonbridge House.

        • Steve says:

          HI pat jolly was you friends with Teresa stafford

  39. I heard in Barking St that there treasure they left..some of them are dimposed but this woman never tell to just landlord but they digged n breakfast the Brick ..there’s some left according to my knownfriend ..the woman keeps this not report to police or counselled bec of the woman intention..how can you the treasure find this tresure ..to detected gusto treasure..

  40. john charles shaw says:

    My grandfather was born in Canning Town in December 1875, his name was Charlie Thomas Shaw as was his father and his mother was Annie Jack. My grandfather immigrated to Australia late 1800 early 1900s.My aim is to come over there when I retire and try and find a little more of his background, if there is anyone who know or connected to this family I would love to hear from you.

  41. Medina Bell (nee Hopewell) says:

    Hi my grandfather lined in bengeo st two streets away from Canary Wharf , their surname was Hopewell my grandmother was Mary Ann my grandfather was John Edward my dad was one of 12 him being th last born , I could not even imagine what life must have been like,

    • Thank you for your comment, I guess like anything there were situations that we would love (quiet Sundays, no 24 hour shopping!) and hardships that we don’t want to see ever again.

    • Charlie Odenwalder says:

      My parents use to live in Bengeo Street. They may well have known each other. My Mother only passed away last year at the age of 98. Some of the stories she told were beyond belief

      • Alan Warren says:

        my Grandfather ( Joseph Warren )was born at 24 bengeo st in 1879.
        My Great Grandfather was Jonathan Summers Warren, and his wife was Amelia.

        • Charles Odenwalder says:

          Your the 1st person I have found who had a relative living in Bengeo St. One story which my Mother told me was about the bomb that hit Hallesville School. They were suppose to go to the school, but my father said no were not going there and instead went to an air raid shelter. hen I saw it on TV it brought it all to life.

          • Alan warren says:

            The “Blitz” TV program rang a bell, hence the post. By 1893 the Warren family had moved to 42 High St, North Woolwich.
            (Now Pier Rd, I believe) by 1916 my grandfather lived in Station St, where my father was born, until bombed out during blitz.

  42. Mandy says:

    Hi. We have hodgetts family ho ived in canningtown

  43. Susan says:

    I’m youngest of 10 kids I’m now coming up 58 my mother was one of 12 kids she was born 1919 her dad was in the boer and WW1 and was a warden in the 2nd growing up in Canning Town and custom house was the best time of me life we had sod all but we had family and true proper people.. Have to go a long way to find the kind of people that come from that place.. Times AV changed around that place now pubs where all the memories of the jolly ups have gone! The rows and rows of the old vic house where I once lived have gone but a trip down memory lane brings back all the old characters names faces and places.. My home my town Canning Town my kind of people x

    • terry hulme says:

      my name terry I was born in canning town I came from a family of five kids I was the youngest we move into house just as the war ended I was born in 56 and the area still look like a bomb site but I love it and still do even so I now live in norfolk

      • Tina says:

        Hi Terry, there can only be one Terry Hulme. We lived next door to each other, and your mums name was Hilda and mine was Mary. I have one sister Mary, I’m sure you will remember and 2 brothers younger than me. You have brothers Ron, Colin and sister Julie? if your the right person, my mum was your god mother when you and your siblings were all christened at the same time Glad you swopped East London for Devon. I moved to Kent 1976, but still have relatives in Canning Town. Although they were hard but great times growing up, and often wish they were still, as less complicated than today.

  44. Vicki Coppell says:

    Malcolm, I have just posted a comment on the site re the South Hallsville school disaster. I am puzzled as to why the area is referred to as Canning Town when our address in Murray Square was Custom House E16, in fact all of that area was Custom House down to the Lido on Becton Rd. When did Custom House lose its identity?

  45. Dee says:

    My Mother’s family came from Canning Town. My Gt Grandfather was a Dockworker. All 7 children were born in the early 1900’s and I know life was hard for them. They lived in Beckton Road and went to Holborn Road School. It affected them in different ways; some had no children and lived indulgent lives and the others had many children and lived frugally.
    I am amazed they all came through both World Wars unscathed. My Mother was born in 1939 in West Ham but after WW2 most of my family moved away from the area to places like Essex.
    My Grandparents and all my Gt Aunts and Uncles have now passed on and I regret not finding out more whilst they were still alive; I now rely on sites like these to help me paint a picture of what life must have been like for my East End relatives.

    • I grew up in Ilford as you may have read, so know those areas very well. My parents are post war babies but my grandparents had plenty of stories to tell. Likewise we as a family migrated to Essex before then moving all over the UK. I’m in Devon now.

      • Vicki Coppell says:

        Malcolm, I was born in Forest Gate, as a baby lived in Oakdale Road, evacuated to Somerset, back to Forest Gate then were rehoused to Murray Square, Custom House. I’m still puzzled as to why that area is referred to as Canning Town. In the early 70s I moved to Brentwood and from there to Australia. My husband and I now live in Victoria but we’re spending Christmas with our daughter and her family in Darwin. It is hot,muggy and very wet right now. Happy Christmas to you and all your blog friends.😊😊😊

        • Mary Andrews nee Arnold says:

          I was born in 1938 at St Mary’s Hospital but my father business was a Scalemaker and hardware shop at 121 Rathbone Street market where he had to check all the stallholders scales to make sure they were accurate. He was bombed out and we had to move to Essex and I wonder if there are any survivors of that old market. His shop was started in 1866 by his Father Samuel Ashmore Arnold.

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