Survey of London: Volumes 43 and 44, Poplar, Blackwall and Isle of Dogs. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1994.
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Nos 1–49 and 2–50 (Nos 1–49 and No. 2 demolished)
The westernmost end of East India Dock Road, west of Stainsby Road on the north side and Drill Place (now Birchfield Street) on the south, was built up between 1847 and 1853 (north side) and 1850 and 1860 (south side). Essentially one development, both north and south sides of the road are described here. All lay within the parish of Limehouse, in the former Gravel Pit Field, (fn. 7) but the estate of which the road frontages were part, both southward and (chiefly) northward of the road, extended into the parish of Poplar. It can conveniently be called the Conant estate, although the owners changed their surname more than once on the inheritance of property.
The estate consisted of 4 acres in Poplar and 34 acres in Limehouse (extending into Whitechapel). It was inherited in 1797, as copyhold of the manor of Stepney, by Elizabeth Stainsby, a widow, from her brother the Rev. Pierce Dod, of Ormond Street, Queen Square. (fn. 8) In 1803 the copyhold (less some property in Limehouse acquired by Charles Hampden Turner shortly before he became trustee for the new road to be made through this Conant land) passed by Elizabeth Stainsby's will to a Nathaniel Conant, described in 1809 as of Portland Place, esquire. (fn. 9) In 1823 William Conant succeeded, and in 1837 Paynton Pigott Stainsby Conant. (fn. 10) The latter, who had assumed the last two of his names a year or two earlier, (fn. 11) was a country gentleman in Hampshire, as was his eldest son, Francis Pigott, later MP for Reading and Governor of the Isle of Man, who had a reversionary interest in the property. (fn. 12) All the family surnames so far mentioned occur as street names on the Limehouse and Poplar estate, together with Gough, the maiden name of P. P. S. Conant's wife. (fn. 13)
In 1801 Elizabeth Stainsby had obtained a licence from the manor of Stepney to grant leases for 61¼ years, (fn. 14) but no building took place, although by 1810 the first houses in East India Dock Road were close by at Canton Place. (fn. 15) By 1845 P. P. S. Conant and his son had evidently decided to build, and obtained manorial licence to grant longer building leases — for 99 years on the north side and its hinterland in 1845, and for 95 years on the south side in 1849. Leases were 'not to be restricted to the usual number of five houses'. In the end Conant and his son disposed of the estate on leases of 70–80 years only. In East India Dock Road the terms were 70 years on the north side and 78–80 on the south. Similarly, very few of their leases were of more than five houses: generally the estate was leased slowly, one or two houses at a time. (fn. 16)
Possibly connected with the expenses of estate development here or elsewhere was the raising of £25,000 by Conant and his son in 1849 on mortgage. The security was houses in Oxford Street, Poland Street and Great Marlborough Street. (fn. 17) In 1855 the property in Limehouse and Poplar was mortgaged to the Eagle Life Insurance Society to secure £7,000. (fn. 18)
The enfranchisement of the estate under the manor of Stepney in the summer of 1855 (fn. 19) did not perceptibly affect the slow process of development.
On the north side of East India Dock Road a terrace of 24 houses was built, called Paynton Terrace (in 1864 numbered 1–49, odd, East India Dock Road) (Plate 28d). (fn. 20) The earliest lessee was a schoolmaster in 1846 at a double site at the corner of Stainsby Road, later Nos 47–49 East India Dock Road, where the house, called Canton House, was rebuilt in 1863 as the Stainsby Tavern, at a tendered price of £2,884 (architect, F. Holsworth). (fn. 21) Thereafter the head lessee or intended lessee of all the other sites was a Limehouse manufacturer, William Champion, wholesale staymaker. He received leases of newly built houses at Nos 23–27 (by 1847), 1 and 3 (1848), 5–9 (1853) and, probably, 11 and 13 (1851 or later). (fn. 22) At the other 13 houses Champion evidently succeeded in selling the leases from the Conants to which he was a party. Four purchasers were builders — Philip Reddington of Limehouse, plumber, at Nos 29 and 31 (1847), Charles Hack of Poplar, builder, at No. 33 (1848), James Bramston of St George's-in-the-East at No. 17 (by 1850), and William Antcliffe of Whitechapel, builder, at Nos 39–45 (1852). (fn. 23) Other lessees were a 'gentleman' at Nos 19 and 21 (1848), a tailor elsewhere in the road at Nos 35 and 37 (1849), and a pilot, living in the Commercial Road, at No. 15 (1851), as well as a surgeon who took Bramston's lien on No. 17 in 1850. (fn. 24)
On the south side were built the 25 houses of Archer Terrace (named after P. P. S. Conant's house, Archer Lodge near Basingstoke, and in 1864 numbered 2–50, even, East India Dock Road), (fn. 25) of which the westernmost five are divided from the others by Amoy Place (formerly East or Little Church Row). All but No. 2 survive (Plate 29c). There was no one main building lessee, although the five westernmost plots were all taken in 1859 by Charles Dunk, a builder extensively used by the estate as lessee. He erected the Eastern Hotel on three plots in the angle between East India and West India Dock Roads. (fn. 26) Expensive alterations were carried out in 1877 at the hands of an architect, Joseph Harris, who lived at No. 34. (fn. 27)
A favoured builder on the estate, Thomas Golding of Gough Street, Poplar, had liens on five house-sites here (Nos 24–32) in about 1859, of which one (No. 24) was leased (with Golding a party) to a Limehouse pilot in 1860, and another (No. 28) to a plumber in Poplar Terrace in 1859. (fn. 28) Another building lessee, in 1855, was Joseph Harris of Ilford (the architect's father), at No. 34. (fn. 29) The lessee of Nos 14 and 18, Francis Viney Davis of Limehouse, in 1852 and 1856 was described as 'tailor', but had evidently become a 'builder' by 1860 when he took a lease of Nos 20 and 22 (unless this was father and son). (fn. 30) Other lessees between 1850 and 1855 were a caulker, a spinster of Stepney, a (second) pilot of Limehouse, a lighterman of Limehouse, a ropemaker (in Drill Place), and the same schoolmaster who had taken Nos 47–49 on the north side. (fn. 31) Probably 10 of the 20 acquired house-sites for occupation: they included, apart from the builder-victualler Dunk, two of the building tradesmen — Joseph Harris at No. 34 and Charles Hack at No. 33. (fn. 32) Three prices paid for long leases of new houses here in the 1850s were £450, £500 and £600. (fn. 33) In 1887 the freehold values of Nos 43 and 45 were £550 and £500. (fn. 34)
The south side (Archer Terrace) had a higher social standing than Paynton Terrace on the north. In the Post Office Directory of 1857 nine of the ten named occupants of Archer Terrace were called 'esq', but only three of the fifteen of the latter were so designated, mixed with professional men, tradesmen and lodging-house-keepers. From 1866 to 1889 Arthur and later Christopher Harston, active local architects, occupied No. 31. (fn. 35)
Unlike the nearby developments eastwards, the East India Dock Road frontages were not in fact given the best houses on the estate. These were to be found in Stainsby Road, where detached and semi-detached houses had, on average, twice the width of the East India Dock Road house-sites: one later became the vicarage of St Peter's, Garford Street.
The Estate was willing to dispose of its interest in the property, selling the reversionary copyhold or (from summer 1855) freehold of at least 14 house-sites in 1856– 60 for about £110–135 each. (fn. 36) Of the 107 houses and five pieces of ground elsewhere on the estate included in a family transaction of 1856, 23 houses and one piece of ground had been sold, mainly to a local builder, by 1864. (fn. 37)
Despite its single chief lessee, Paynton Terrace showed different types of house at Nos 1–27 and 29–45. All threestoreyed and brick-faced, Nos 1–27 had tall, segmentalheaded window-openings dressed with moulded architraves on each storey, a continued balcony under the first-floor windows and a crowning dentil cornice: a dormer window was set in the exposed mansard roof, the party walls conforming to the mansard shape. Nos 29–45 were much plainer, having undressed window-openings under straight-gauged arches and no balcony and rose to parapets concealing the roof. (fn. 38) The central three houses of the terrace, Nos 23–27, were recessed, with groundfloor bay windows. (fn. 39)
In its main extent, east of Amoy Place, Archer Terrace (now Nos 12–50 East India Dock Road) is a plain terrace of brick, notably late-Georgian for its date, rising three storeys above a basement separated from the pavement by an area. (West of Amoy Place the houses — Nos 2–10 East India Dock Road, since demolished or altered — rose to four storeys.) Steep steps lead up to front doors (11 of them original) in openings dressed with the plainest Doric doorcases. The windows have simple stucco surrounds, those of the ground floor having cornices supported (except at No. 34) on console brackets, and those of the first floor rising from a bandcourse continued through the terrace. The fronts are finished with a moulded cornice and parapet of stone or stucco. All the fronts are of two bays, the greater width of No. 44 being accommodated without finesse, by 'stretching'. Shopfronts have been inserted at Nos 22 and 40.
Some constructional difference is suggested by the back elevations, where Nos 18–34 finish with the 'sawtooth' silhouette of conjoined M-section roofs, whereas the rear elevations of Nos 12–16 and 36–50 finish with a straight parapet. The central section thus differentiated was slightly the later to be leased for building, in 1855– 60.
The architect for the estate, including this unremarkable range, was perhaps the George Alexander who signed a plan of the estate of 1855 or earlier. (fn. 40) He exhibited architectural designs at the Royal Academy in 1831–49 (fn. 41) and had some executed work to his credit, but on his death in 1885 was said to have 'early retired from practice to the enjoyment of the life of a country gentleman'. (fn. 42) Later, when streets were being laid out in 1861, the estate surveyor was Charles Moreing. (fn. 43)
Apart from East India Dock Road the estate extended to comprise all or part of Burdett Road, Canton Buildings, Canton Street, Church Row, Commercial Road East, Conant Place, Dod, Francis, Gough, Paynton, Pelling, Pigott and Silver Streets, Stainsby Road and West India Dock Road (see page 202). By 1866 — when the development was still not complete — leases had been granted of 404 separate properties, each often of more than one house-site, and including eight factories, warehouses, works or offices and one chapel. (fn. 44)
Nos 51–77 (demolished)
A photograph taken in 1897, during the celebrations to mark the eightieth anniversary of the establishment of the parish, shows on the left two of the houses that may have impressed travellers entering the Poplar section of the East India Dock Road (Plate 20c). (fn. 45) The houses (Nos 57 and 59) were two of the first to be built in the road, dating from 1807–10. (fn. 46) These and bigger houses extending eastward to No. 77 (some of which can be glimpsed through the arch in the photograph) were built on property, extending also south of the road, which on the eve of development was held under the manor of Stepney by Richard Smith of North Street, Poplar, who, as a 'cowkeeper', had been admitted to copyhold ownership in 1787. (fn. 47) He disposed of some buildings and by 1817 the residue was in the hands of a younger Richard Smith, also of North Street, who continued the process. How far the Smiths were responsible for the character of the development here is, however, uncertain: three of the houses were erected under a building lease from them, but at least nine other house-sites, including those of big houses at Nos 69 and 71, were sold off at or before the time of building. By 1840 the Smiths owned none of the houses. (fn. 48) Nos 51–67. The terrace of six houses at Nos 57–67 was built in 1807–10, being extended westward with Nos 51– 55 in 1823–4, and was known as Canton Place. Four of the first six house-sites had been sold in 1807 by Richard Smith to Richard Pillgrem of Poplar, described as a surveyor: (fn. 49) a William Pillgrem, perhaps the designer of the constables' houses in Harrow Lane (see page 88), was the first occupant of No. 59 in 1810, (fn. 50) and it may be that Richard or William Pillgrem was the undertaker or designer of these houses.
The photograph mentioned above shows the plain three-storeyed brick fronts, behind wide areas, with their first-floor windows descending to near floor level. At Nos 57–63 and where No. 57 was to be joined in 1823–4 to No. 55, the houses were designed as a quasi-terrace of semi-detached pairs joined at ground-floor level only by the coupling of their front doors in a single-storey link. This arrangement permitted the designer to give the full width of the house to the front room, but at the expense of the rear room, which was reduced to accommodate the staircase compartment (fig. 33). (fn. 51)
The three westernmost houses, Nos 51 55, were built under a 61-year building lease granted by Richard Smith (the younger) in 1823 to a builder, Thomas Corpe of Jamaica Place, Limehouse. (fn. 52) Corpe, who was active elsewhere in the road, mortgaged the three new houses here in 1824 to John Mills, gentleman, the owneroccupier of No. 63. (fn. 53) Perhaps Mills had a speculative interest in the development: Corpe was bankrupt by 1838 and Mills, who in 1833–4 moved to No. 73, (fn. 54) then came into the possession of that house and of Nos 51–55. In 1840, if not before, he owned seven of the twelve houses on this stretch of road. (fn. 55) Corpe's son, also Thomas, was a surveyor, (fn. 56) but whether he had any hand in the design of Nos 51–55 is not known. No. 55, at least, had a slightly more developed elevation than the houses eastward, with a stone or stucco bandcourse below less elongated firstfloor windows, and a parapet above a main cornice. (The doorcase, however, matched its pair at No. 57.) Early in the twentieth century these three houses were replaced by a theatre.
The Hippodrome (formerly New Princes) Theatre at Nos 51–55.
This solidly ornate Edwardian theatre, designed on large lines at a prominent corner site, was built in 1904–5 and opened under the name of the New Princes Theatre (Plate 20a). The architects were Owen & Ward of Birmingham and the builders Kirk & Kirk of Westminster. Clarence Sounes was the owner: he also owned theatres at Woolwich and Aldershot, and lived at Blackheath. (fn. 57) (fn. 1) The building had a width of 60ft to East India Dock Road. The front part of the theatre was built of red brick with buff terracotta facings, supplied by the Hathern Station Terra Cotta Company, Leicestershire. (fn. 59) The main elevation was a handsome composition, largescaled for a large site, in an English Baroque style turning Continental towards the top. (fn. 60) At its centre were the entrance to the better seats, the manager's offices with large, round-headed windows and bow-fronted balconies at first-floor level, and a colonnade of coupled columns at second-floor level, flanked by towers which mainly accommodated the gallery staircases and finished in copper-covered domes. The main and return groundfloor fronts were sheltered by a bold iron canopy. (fn. 61) The long side elevation to Stainsby Road made do, at best, with some tall, blank arcading. (fn. 62)
Inside, the layout of the front-of-house arrangements deliberately separated the entrances and exits of the more and less affluent, while taking their money at the same box-office (fig. 34). (fn. 63) The auditorium was 61ft wide and 78ft deep, and the stage the same width and 41ft deep. There were 17 dressing-rooms. The auditorium was arranged in three levels: stalls and pit, circle and balcony, and gallery and amphitheatre — the two upper tiers being cantilevered to avoid obstructing the view with columns. At the opening it was claimed that the theatre held 2,500 persons, (fn. 64) but this is doubtful.
The interior decorations, in the French Renaissance style', were by F. De Jong & Company and were enthusiastically described by a friendly journalist thus: 'The prevailing colours . . . are cream and gold, slightly relieved with pale salmon and blue; artistic panel paintings adorn the tympana over the proscenium, and in the dome . . . the whole harmonising tastefully with the crimson and gold silk draperies and peacock blue carpets.' The mosaic-work of the staircases and floors was by Diespeker & Company of Holborn. (fn. 65)
As early as 1907 the Princes (called the Hippodrome by 1908) was showing three-hour programmes of animated pictures. (fn. 66) Mixed bills of live performances and film continued for the next two decades. By 1925 the Hippodrome was run just as a cinema and in July 1926, after alteration by Pitcher Construction Company, (fn. 67) announced its 'opening' as 'the new Hippodrome Super Cinema'. (fn. 68) It was altered again in 1936, (fn. 69) but was bombed in autumn 1940 and described as 'burnt out; unusable'. (fn. 70) The ruins were cleared away in about 1950. (fn. 71)
The name Canton Place was sometimes extended to include Nos 69–73.
No. 69 was built in 1818 (fn. 72) on copyhold ground sold in 1816, presumably by the Smiths (see above), to its first owner and occupant, Captain James Hamilton, a master mariner. (fn. 73) This house stood well back from the building line of Nos 57–67 to its west.
No. 71 had one of the widest sites in the road, of some 100ft, but the house, built in 1821–2, (fn. 74) occupied only 30ft of width, with laundry and other offices on the west side and a stable yard on the east. The simply designed three-bay brick front of the house rose through three tall storeys, the ground-floor window-openings being roundheaded and echoed in the design of the trellising of the veranda which dressed the first-floor windows (Plate 28a). (By 1890, at least, these lit a dining room.) (fn. 75) The slated mansard roof contained two segmental-headed dormer windows. At the rear, the three ground-floor windows descended to ground level: the two upper storeys each contained two windows. From the back of the house eight steps led down to the spacious garden. (fn. 76)
The first occupant, who remained for some 32 years, was George Clavering Redman, merchant and shipowner. (fn. 77) By 1836 he had warehouses near the West India Docks, a counting house and warehouses in Lime Street, a fleet of 10 or 12 sailing ships and a seat on the board of a steamboat company. (fn. 78) His tenure of the house came about by virtue of a sale of the copyhold site for £425 by Richard Smith (the younger) in 1820 to a purchaser who was probably Redman's father-in-law. (fn. 79) By 1876 the house was occupied by a solicitor who in 1878 and 1890 added the appendages of upper suburbia — a covered way to the front door, and a billiard room over the laundry and offices. (fn. 80)
No. 73 was built in 1824–5, on a copyhold site acquired in 1823 by the builder Thomas Corpe, who was then building Nos 51–55. (fn. 81) After his bankruptcy the property passed, in 1838, to his mortgagee John Mills, (fn. 82) who lived in the house, which did not then have Pekin Street as its eastward abutment. Its site later accommodated a cinema (see below).
Nos 75 and 77, two semi-detached houses, were built in 1859–60 by the local builders, William Hack & Son of King (later Ming) Street. (fn. 83) This was part of a development that included 35 other houses in two new streets, Nankin Street and Pekin Street, the latter opening into East India Dock Road between Nos 73 and 75. This whole site had been bought copyhold by the shipowner, G. C. Redman (occupant of No. 71), from Richard Smith (the younger) in 1838, for £475. (fn. 84) In 1856 three shipowners or agents, Stephen Redman of Lombard Street, Joel Langley of No. 76 East India Dock Road, and George Fuller of Lime Street, inherited the property from a female relation of G. C. Redman's, (fn. 85) and it was probably under their auspices that this development was undertaken.
The Gaiety Cinema at No. 73.
This small cinema was built in 1913–14 by J. Easton of Barnsbury to designs by the architect H. R. G. S. Smallman of Queen Street. Although confined to a single house-site, it had the advantage of a corner position and the architect managed some external pomp with a columned corner entrance and a dome (fig. 35). Inside, the decoration was a minimal 'dix-huitieme' (panels and swags). The narrow site had at least the advantage that all of the 496 seats were, in spite of a wide central gangway, in front of the screen. (fn. 86) In 1917 J. Easton had to rebuild some part of the cinema because of structural settlement. (fn. 87) Equipment for 'talking pictures' was installed in 1930. The war-damaged building was demolished in September 1940. (fn. 88)
Nos 77W, 79, 79A–E (demolished)
These buildings, of which only No. 79 was of any consequence, stood on a triangle of copyhold land belonging at the time of the making of the road to a Mary Burch of St George's-in-the-East (see page 171). The road separated this area from the larger residue of her estate on its south side. In 1814 Mary Burch leased all or part of the triangle for 31 years to a brandy merchant in Limehouse and the City, Duncan Dunbar, who then held the land eastward, where he soon afterwards built a house at No. 81. (fn. 89) In 1843 Mary Burch's successor in title, Edward Langley, renewed the lease for 61 years to Dunbar's son, also Duncan, who was on his way to becoming a millionaire shipowner. (fn. 90) He built a substantial detached house here at No. 79, Balnagaith House, in 1854–5. (fn. 91) In 1864, two years after the shipowning Dunbar's death, a 39-year term in the house was bought by a grocer in Pennyfields for £370, and by the 1870s No. 79 had become a lodging house or 'private hotel'. (fn. 92) Between 1876 and 1886 a tailor, Abraham Goldberg, who seems to have bought the 'hotel', had six two-storeyed houses-over-shops of the humblest kind, numbered 77w and 79A–E, built on its former garden. (fn. 93)
Nos 81–91 (demolished)
Eastward of No. 79 as far as Upper North Street, and also south of the road, lay a copyhold estate bought in 1803 by the shipbuilder John Perry, then retired to Harlow, Essex. At that time it consisted of about three acres of garden ground, some outbuildings and cottages, a row of 'eight new-built small Brick Messuages and Gardens' facing the west side of Upper North Street, and two dwelling houses on the south side of the newly made road, on the west corner of North Street. By reason of its position the ground was fairly described at the time as 'very improvable', and although there were 15 years to run of a subsisting lease to a gardener, Joseph Brandy, Perry paid £1,800 for the land. (fn. 94) Nothing seems to have happened until 1812, and the attempt Perry's son John then made to develop the eastern half of his land on this north side of the road (from the later No. 91 to Upper North Street) was unsuccessful. The intention was to build 31 small houses — 11 in East India Dock Road, 6 in Upper North Street and 14 in streets behind. The building lessee was to have been Jonas Charlesson Hahn of Whitechapel, builder, with whom Perry concluded an agreement in September 1812 describing the setting out, dimensions and materials of the houses. The 'internal arrangement' of the houses was left to Hahn's discretion, but the simple form of the fronts was presented in elevational drawings attached to the agreement. (fn. 95) In fact, 'differences and disputes' brought the scheme to an end and in 1815 the agreement was cancelled, when only three 'cottages' had been built. (fn. 96) Perry paid Hahn £495 for the work he had done. (fn. 97)
Thereafter the Perrys attempted no more development east of No. 91, although in 1851 John Perry's nephew, J. W. Perry Watlington (later MP for South Essex) enfranchised all his estate here in the manor of Stepney, and about that time was contemplating another layout of houses, evidently by the architect John Morris. (fn. 98) But again nothing happened until in 1865 the site was occupied by St Stephen's Church (see below).
Perhaps disenchanted with terrace-house projects, John Perry filled the western part of the East India Dock Road frontage with two large detached houses, with an intended road between them that was itself abandoned in the 1850s. The westernmost, later No. 81, was built in 1817– 18, and No. 83 in 1825–6. Nos 85–91, built only in about 1855, were semi-detached, so here an owner in the road was turning from small houses in 1812 to larger ones later (Plate 29b).
No. 81 (sometime St Stephen's Vicarage).
This house, detached in a large garden, was built in 1817–18 (fn. 99) on copyhold property leased from John Perry by the brandy merchant Duncan Dunbar, the owner of vacant ground on the site of No. 79, Balnagaith House, eastward. Like that house it was given a Scottish name, Forres House. In 1870 it was bought by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for £1,400 from J. W. Perry Watlington, who gave them back half the price. This was for use as the vicarage of St Stephen's Church, from which it was, however, separated by No. 83. The Commissioners' architect, Ewan Christian, did not think much of the construction of the Regency house, or the subterranean location of its offices, or its low ceiling heights. He insisted on changes and a minimum thickness of 14in. for the external walls. (fn. 100) The changes were made by the local architect, John W. Morris. (fn. 101) Later, the vicar's daughter remembered it as having 'a great many small rooms'. (fn. 102) In 1886 Margaret Perry Watlington sold the strip eastward of No. 81, at one time intended for a road northward, to the vicar, the Rev. R. J. Elliott. (fn. 103) He had been taking homeless boys to live in the vicarage but 'as his daughters grew up' found it necessary in that year to build St Stephen's Home for Orphans and Fatherless Boys here. (fn. 104) John W. Morris was again the architect and the builder was J. K. Coleman of Poplar High Street. (fn. 105) Behind, a small home for six old people was built. (fn. 106) For the boys' home Morris designed a plain 'Tudor' building with straight-sided gables and rectangular, mullion-and-transomed windows under hood-moulds, executed in brick and stone — a rare intrusion of this style into Poplar. (fn. 107) In 1909 the vicarage was abandoned as too expensive to run, in favour of a clergy house at No. 15 Poplar High Street. (fn. 108)
This substantial house was built in 1825–6 on the Perry copyhold estate, then in the hands of John Perry's brother Philip Perry, esquire, of Upper Harley Street, by John Garford the younger, gentleman, for his own occupation. Garford's firm were oil and seed merchants at Limehouse Hole. (fn. 109) James Walker, the surveyor, advised Philip Perry in the matter and considered Garford had built 'an excellent house', and recommended a ground rent of £24 per annum for the 73ft of frontage. (fn. 110) Perry granted an 80-year lease in 1827. (fn. 111)
In 1882 the house was taken over as the convent of Our Lady of Dolours by a community of French origin, the Faithful Companions of Jesus, who had been established in England in 1830 in Somers Town. The community and its school removed to Hackney in about 1948 after Howrah House (as No. 83 had been named) had been damaged by bombing during the war. (fn. 112) By then successive additions and alterations had camouflaged the house of 1825–6. The house was demolished in or soon after 1950. (fn. 113)
Nos 85 and 87 are specimens of the unappealing style of the local architectural firm of John Morris & Son in about 1855, when they were built as the western pair of four houses, called Harlow Villas after the town where J. W. Perry Watlington lived. The builder, who shared the architect Morrises' address, was a George Morris, and John Morris himself was the first occupant of No. 85. (fn. 114)
Nos 89 and 91 (similarly to Nos 86–100 opposite) were built by another local builder, Adin Sheffield, also to the designs of the Morrises. (fn. 115)
St Stephen's Church (demolished)
This church was built in 1865–6 at the instigation of the Rector of All Saints', the Rev. T. W. Nowell, an energetic creator of new parishes for his widely spread flock (Plate 22a). The site was purchased from J. W. Perry Watlington by the London Diocesan Church Building Society, who passed it on to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. (fn. 116) The architects were F. & H. Francis and the builder William Howard of Covent Garden, (fn. 117) both parties having recently been engaged on schools in Northumberland Street for the rector (see page 205). St Stephen's was consecrated in January 1867. (fn. 118) The cost was reported as £7,000, of which no less than £6,000 was given by the Blackwall shipbuilder and shipowner Henry Green. (fn. 119)
This part of East India Dock Road was then one of the areas of Poplar closest to prosperity, demonstrating in some of its houses an expectation (already losing its basis in economic fact) that this would continue. St Stephen's reflected the same optimism in its use of the Decorated style rather than the Early English favoured where rigid economy was necessary. The Building News listed it among the more noticeable churches of the year, and James Thorne in the Companion to the Almanac called it 'a church of more than the usual pretension'. (fn. 120) The Illustrated London News thought it 'large and beautiful'. (fn. 121) Apart from nave, aisles and chancel, providing altogether some 960 sittings, (fn. 122) there was a square tower at the east end of the south aisle and an organ compartment and vestry on the north side of the chancel (fig. 36). There was no west door (probably to facilitate the building of a parish or mission hall west of the church), the main entrance being by the south porch. The exterior was faced with coursed Kentish ragstone, and Bath stone was used for all the 'worked details'. The engraving in the Illustrated London News shows the tower surmounted by an octagon, with flying buttresses, from which rose a tall spire, but this was never built. (fn. 123) On the East India Dock Road front the Francises used the eye-catching formula by which each of the five tall south-aisle windows was set under the steep gable of a short transverse roof running back to the aisle roof.
Inside, the brickwork of the walls (as at the Francises' St Saviour's) was exposed in banded polychromy, 'no plaster being used for any part of the church'. There was encaustic tiling by Mintons, (fn. 124) and the stone arches of the nave arcades had lushly carved caps.
Much later, in 1897, one of Charles Booth's investigators interviewed the first vicar, the Rev. R. J. Elliott — still in office after 31 years — and following a tour of the church noted that 'to make his church beautiful has evidently been the object nearest to his heart', instancing wrought ironwork 'all made in the vicarage', a fine (low) marble choir screen, painted windows, and (still in progress) some mosaic-work. But 'the work of which perhaps Mr E. is most justly proud are [sic] the carved capitals of his pillars and the finials [sic] of the arches', which were 'full of ideas and meanings' and inspired by 'love and devotion'. (fn. 125) This may imply amateur labour on the part of the Reverend Elliott, but the rather idiosyncratic stonecarving looks in photographs similar to that in the Francises' St Saviour's, and was therefore probably done by their stonecarver to their requirements (see page 205). It perhaps contributed, in fact, to the fierce condemnation of the church by a later critic — strangely at odds with the Booth investigator's impression — as 'a beastly bit of Francis commercialism'. (fn. 126)
From the beginning, the east window was furnished with stained glass, paid for by a committee of local ladies. (fn. 127) Another window was executed by George Rees of Lamb's Conduit Street in 1881. (fn. 128)
In 1874 a small utilitarian mission house was built north-west of the church by Edward lles of Poplar, and in 1876–7 this was extended towards East India Dock Road by the builder J. K. Coleman of Poplar in an ecclesiastical early Gothic style matching the church in its coursed ragstone facing. The architect of the former, and therefore perhaps of the extension also, was John Warrington Morris. (fn. 129)
According to the Reverend Elliott, the church had to struggle against the success of Trinity Congregational Church nearby (which was the creation largely of George Green, the father of St Stephen's benefactor Henry Green) in attracting the wealthier residents (see below). (fn. 130) Like other churches in the district, the church assumed a 'higher' tone in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In 1869 the choir was 'unsurpliced', but by 1916 a local paper thought that the celebration of 'the Roman Catholic feast of Corpus Christi' by a 'Solemn High Mass' was in emulation of the Roman Catholic church of SS Mary and Joseph nearby (see page 202). (fn. 131)
The church was damaged in an air raid in 1917, incurring some £2,650-worth of repairs. Messrs Powell — presumably James Powell & Sons — supplied two stainedglass windows at that time. (fn. 132) Damage was inflicted more than once in the Second World War and the church was demolished in 1950. (fn. 133) The choir-stalls were removed to St Peter's, Grange Park, (fn. 134) and the ragstones were utilized in making the low boundary wall of this part of the Lansbury Estate along East India Dock Road between Saracen Street and Upper North Street. (fn. 135)
Nos 93–103 (demolished)
These houses were built, like Nos 104—126 on the south side, on a property owned in 1827 by John Wilkes of Pimlico, esquire, and Henry William Masterson of Rotterdam, merchant. Both were trustees under the will of Mary Masterson of Pimlico, the widow of a Bruges merchant, who seems to have inherited the property from her grandfather, then 'long since deceased'. In 1827 they sold the property in lots, all to local men. This was in a lull after the London building boom of a year or two before, and so development was neither quick nor complete. On the north side of the road, called Prospect Place, the sites of Nos 93 and 95 were bought by a lawyer, Jonathan Ellerthorpe, of Nos 97 and 99 by a blacksmith, James Williams, of Nos 101 and 103 by a ship-chandler, John Essery, and of No. 103A in two lots by two 'gentlemen', Oliver Evans and James Duff. (fn. 136) At Nos 93–97 and 101–103 building took place in 1828–9; all except No. 101 very humbly in two storeys. (fn. 137) Andrew Wilson of St George's-in-the-East, builder, was, with a Shoreditch solicitor, party to all the deeds and had perhaps, therefore, been the main undertaker.
Nos 105–115 (demolished)
These six houses, built in 1841–3, and sometime named Trinity Terrace, spanned what had previously been a property division on the line of the old drainage channel and sewer called the Black Ditch. Eastward along this side of East India Dock Road so far as Chrisp Street lay the estate which from the early eighteenth century had belonged to the Wade family and which in 1823 had been divided between five daughters. Proceeding eastward, the portions fell (in terms of the later street-numbering) to Sophia Duff (Nos 111–133), Catherine Wade (Nos 135– 151), Sarah Kerbey (No. 153), Susannah Grundy (Nos 155–171) and Elizabeth Chrisp Willis (Nos 173–187). Their development conformed to a coherent layout in the hinterland (see page 210), opening to East India Dock Road in a series of cross-streets: conceivably this was the work of James Walker, who had been Mrs Wade's surveyor.
Sophia Duff and her husband James, a tavern keeper, also acquired in 1827 the ground immediately westward of the site of Nos 111–133. This must have facilitated the purchase by or before 1841 of all the site by the promoter of the terrace. He was the very wealthy shipbuilder and shipowner George Green, who was creating a group of 'philanthropic' foundations around this part of the road — chapel, minister's house, sailors' home, schools, and almshouses. It was to provide an endowment for the almshouses (in Upper North Street) that this terrace was built. George Green was willing and able to pay the high price of £1,300 for the site. (fn. 140)
The bisection of the site by the old sewer possibly explains a feature of the terrace that seems discernible in the only (and imperfect) early representation of it and on the Ordnance Survey map of 1867–70 — the elevation of its ground floor higher than usual above the footway behind a wide area (protected by a low wall surmounted by a railing). The back wall of the terrace was straight, without closet wings. (fn. 141) The representation (of Nos 111– 115 only) shows the houses to have been three storeys high, designed in a late-Georgian style, with roundheaded door- and window-openings on the ground floor and straight-headed windows under bracketed cornices on the first floor. All these openings were dressed with architraves but the second-floor windows were undressed. The front finished with a plain frieze and cornice surmounted by a pedestal-course supporting a balustrade punctuated by plain dies marking the intervals between each bay (Plate 150c).
The architect may have been John Morris, who seems to have acted for George Green in the matter of archingover the Black Ditch (fn. 142) and was the first occupant of the widest house, No. 111. In 1857 the terrace also contained a clergyman and two schools for young ladies and, by 1862, a police station. (fn. 143)
In 1875, following an Order in Chancery, the houses were vested in the trustees of Trinity Chapel and they, foreseeing the future of East India Dock Road, granted a 99-year lease of the houses to the local estate agent and surveyor William Warren (of No. 77), on condition that he spent £600 or more converting them to contain shops on the road frontage, which he did probably to designs by the local architect E. L. Bracebridge. (fn. 144)
Trinity Congregational Chapel (demolished)
Until it was blown to pieces by a flying bomb in 1944, this chapel stood both as an example of thoughtful if idiosyncratic late Classicism (Plate 21a), and a token of the continuance of the architectural aspirations for Poplar evident at All Saints'. It was built in 1840–1 to designs by William Hosking (1800–61), Professor of Architecture at King's College, London. The builders were Thomas Rider & Son of Southwark and the City, and the cost was about £5,495 without fittings. This and all attendant costs were paid by George Green. He not only paid £400 for the organ, but evidently provided £1,541 to buy an endowment for the organist's salary, and paid for the Bible, hymn-books and surplices. Additionally he paid some £1,180 for the chapel site to Jonathan Ellerthorpe, a solicitor and estate-developer hereabouts, who had acquired it ten years earlier, as well as £630 for the chapel's burial ground. He also enfranchised both in the manor of Stepney (for £168). (fn. 145) This was one of several munificent foundations for which he was responsible in Poplar. (fn. 2)
George Green in his accounts calls the chapel the sailors' chapel, until its opening as Trinity Chapel, and it was acknowledged that it was intended to attract seamen from the locality, especially his own sailors' home nearby, as well as the shipwrights in his employment. (fn. 147) Nevertheless, for a number of years the congregation included much of the local 'carriage trade' of worship. (fn. 148)
As originally built the chapel was a rectangle, externally 55ft wide and 180ft long, exclusive of the portico fronting south to East India Dock Road (fig. 37). The east side of the site abutted on Augusta Street and on both sides the chapel was set with trees.
The tetrastyle Corinthian portico rose from a stylobate formed by a wall along the road frontage that was extended to mask lateral steps rising into the portico. It was surmounted by bronzed railings which broke inward behind the columns. The capitals of the columns, the most enriched feature of the front, were decorated with shells and dolphins. The portico finished with a stepped architrave, plain frieze and dentil cornice supporting a pediment with plain tympanum. Within the portico the south-facing main wall of the chapel was composed to benefit from east shadows, with three tall round-headed recesses, containing one entrance and two exit doors under shell-ornamented tympana, and separated by pilasters against which were set three-quarter-engaged columns — fluted, like the columns of the portico. The outer bays of the main front wall, bounded by Corinthian pilasters, contained smaller, blank, round-headed recesses to accommodate torch-holders, blank panels above them and, in the 'implied' but unexpressed entablature, a single horizontal window on each side to light the interior at high level. This wall finished with its own full-width pediment rising above and behind that of the portico, the individuality of the front owing much to the flattening of the apex of this pediment to give, visually, a base for the substantial square bell-turret which, structurally, received support from the engaged columns below it. The bellturret finished with a steep ogival cap of unusual profile.
Inside, galleries were supported by hollow bronzed columns. These served also as rainwater-pipes, for Hosking had ingeniously combined the clerestory lighting which would be expected in a nave-and-aisles basilican arrangement, with a single-cell exterior, by breaking the slopes of his shallow-pitched roof with a hidden longitudinal valley on each side that admitted light to his clerestory and was drained through the columns. (fn. 149)
The interior was carefully composed. The case housing a powerful organ by Joseph Walker, in a Greek style, was made integral with the internal decorative scheme. The north end, where the focus of the chapel was on a highlevel pulpit 'executed in Keene's cement', was composed to echo the triple round-headed openings in the portico wall.
At its inauguration in 1841, the chapel was said to accommodate some 1,000 or 1,100 worshippers. Very soon, however, enlargement was necessary and an exten sion about 15ft deep was made at the north end in 1846, permitting a higher-level gallery to be made there (possibly over a ground-floor schoolroom). The work was probably done by Green's own building staff. The architect was not Hosking — conceivably because he was by then the Official Referee to the Metropolitan Building Office — but John Morris, living nearby. (fn. 150) The accommodation was raised to 1,500. (fn. 151)
The chapel as extended in 1846 was probably not much changed before its destruction in 1944. (fn. 152) A font was installed in 1916, and wooden vestries were inserted rather obtrusively on either side of the pulpit in 1875. (fn. 153) (For the post-war successor to this chapel see page 225.)
The minister's house was built to Hosking's designs at the same time as the chapel, but on the other side of the road at the present site of Pope John House (No. 154). The ground was bought by George Green from Thomas Hale for £900 and Green paid Thomas Lambert of Blackwall the large sum of £1,741 to build it. (fn. 154) The Companion to the Almanac described this 'neat villa-like house' as
showing how much expression may be given at a trifling expense to a small and unpretending building of the kind. Of such expression, much is derived from the upper fillet of the cornice being of sawn slate, and from the chimney shafts at the ends of the house being made to project sufficiently to stop the cornice on its returns, except the cyma, which forms the corbelling supporting those shafts. The design of the door corresponds with those within the portico of the chapel, in having like them an arched head filled with a concave shell. (fn. 155)
Unfortunately the appearance of this building is not otherwise recorded.
West of the chapel a small house, No. 117, was built at the same time, and although embraced by the chapel's curtilage seems not to have been associated with it; the occupier was successively described as carpenter, grocer and tobacconist (Plate 150c). (fn. 156)
East of the chapel and also embraced by its curtilage was No. 119, at the corner of Augusta Street, built in 1827 by its first occupant, a Limehouse victualler perhaps near retirement, on land he had bought from a daughter of the Wade family. (fn. 157) It kept up the tone of this part of the road with a plain, three-bay, three-storeyed, brick front, having a round-headed door-opening, straightheaded windows rising at first-floor level from a continued balcony, and a small crowning cornice and parapet. (fn. 158)
In 1889 Holloways the builders erected quite a large lecture hall and rooms behind the chapel, abutting on Augusta Street. (fn. 159)
Queen Victoria Seamen's Rest, Jeremiah Street and Nos 121–131 East India Dock Road
Fronting East India Dock Road is the extension of the Queen Victoria Seamen's Rest made in 1951–3, and occupying the site of six houses called Wade's Terrace built in 1829 on the property of Sophia Duff (née Wade) and her husband James Duff. (fn. 160) The architect of that terrace is not known. It was a late-Georgian brick row, set, like Trinity Terrace, behind a street wall topped with railings, and rose through three storeys to finish with a stone or stucco entablature, originally crowned by a balustrade (Plate 150c). There were round-headed openings to the doors and to the ground- and first-floor windows, the last being dressed with individual balconies at the four outer houses of the terrace and a continuous balcony at the two inner, projecting forward slightly under a pediment set against the crowning balustrade. (fn. 161) The houses were a little lower rated than those of Trinity Terrace but in 1841 were respectably inhabited. (fn. 162) By the later 1870s lodging-houses were taking over and gradually from the 1880s shopfronts were inserted. (fn. 163)
The original building of the Queen Victoria Seamen's Rest faces Jeremiah Street and was erected in 1901–2 for the Wesleyan Seamen's Mission, which had had premises there since about 1888. (fn. 164) These were well placed opposite the side door of the Board of Trade building (at No. 133), whence seamen emerged with their wages. An incentive to rebuild perhaps came from the recent building of the Anglican Missions to Seamen's Institute on the other side of East India Dock Road. Architects for the Wesleyans were Gordon & Gunton — Josiah Gunton being one of the trustees for the new 'house' and by 1910 treasurer of the Wesleyan Mission chapel on the opposite side of East India Dock Road: the firm built widely for the Methodists. (fn. 165) The Seamen's Mission, whose headquarters the building became, was associated with the Artizans Dwellings Society and the building in Jeremiah Street was in two conjoined parts, of different designs (fig. 38). The southern part was originally of three storeys (soon increased to four), with a four-storey entrance tower at its southern end, the northern (now much altered in its front to Jeremiah Street) of four storeys. The top floor of that block contained cubicles for seamen and there were dwellings for seamen's families in the northern part. The cost was £14,000. (fn. 166) In 1932 the same architects, now Gunton & Gunton, built an extension, costing some £15,000, on the west side, facing Augusta Street (now Arabella Close). (fn. 167)
The large extension of 1951–3 by Gunton & Gunton in East India Dock Road cost £165,000. It is externally of brick, the only accents in the flat front being provided by the continuous band of openings on the ground floor and the close grouping of the windows in the centre bay, rising to a fourth floor, where it projects from a set-back of the attic storey. This is in turn surmounted by a small top storey. A northern wing provided, as built, a lounge and bedrooms for officers and contains a chapel with bare-brick interior walls under a flat ceiling with exposed beams. (fn. 168) The three round-headed east windows were filled with stained glass by Goddard & Gibbs (designer Arthur E. Buss) in 1965. (fn. 169) The 'manse' at the northern end of the site fronting Arabella Close was added by Gunton & Gunton in about 1961. (fn. 170)
No. 133, formerly Sailors' Home, later Board of Trade Offices
The only survivor of the buildings erected in the road for the philanthropic George Green is an ambitious if now altered example of a late-Georgian-style institution built in the first years of Queen Victoria (Plates 23a, 150d). Green, who established the home primarily for the seamen of his merchant ships, paid for it all. (fn. 171) Work began in summer 1839 and was probably completed late in 1841. The site, which in 1826 was conveyed by Sophia and James Duff to Joseph Ellerthorpe, (fn. 172) was bought by Green in 1839, when he paid £1,222 to the vendors, John Carter (probably a local estate agent) and a Captain Frazer, for a compact rectangle fronting the road between the recently formed Jeremiah and Duff Streets.
The notably high cost of building and materials seems to have been £9,830, of which £1,000 was paid to George Green's own shipbuilding firm of Green, Wigram & Green 'on account of advances for labour etc.'. (fn. 173) This, together with £330 to a surveyor, the cost of the land, and £3,083 paid to buy seats in the nearby Trinity Chapel for the inmates of the home would bring the total outlay to £14,465. (The Gentleman's Magazine reported that it was £15,000.) (fn. 174)
Much of the material used — timber, bricks, concrete, slates and lime — was obtained by Green himself, not supplied by the tradesmen working it. (fn. 3) Of the builders' work, no payment is mentioned for carpentry, presumably because this was done by the shipwrights of Green's own shipyard and is accounted for by the payment of £1,000 mentioned above. (fn. 175) (fn. 4)
No architect is mentioned in the accounts. Conceivably that role was filled by the Blackwall builder, William Constable, executing George Green's commands. The latter's accounts record payments of £260 to him — £20 for 'building' but the rest for 'surveying', plus £90 awarded by an arbitrator between them. (Constable was, however, also paid for 'surveying' at Trinity Chapel, where an architect was certainly employed.) (fn. 5)
In 1856 the building acquired a further use, as the home of the Poplar and Blackwall School of Trade and Navigation under the Science and Art Department. This forerunner of the LCC's School of Marine Engineering and Navigation in the High Street provided day lessons in navigation for masters and mates in the merchant navy, and a 'trade school' to give technical instruction to workmen in the evenings. (fn. 177) In 1874 the building was taken over entirely by the Board of Trade as a Mercantile Marine office, partly for the 'trial and settlement of questions connected with maritime law'. (fn. 178) By 1937 it housed also a stores department and the Admiralty Merchant Navy Signalling School. (fn. 179) Use by government offices terminated about 1978 and in 1981–3 the building was converted into small flats for 'single people and childless couples' by Anthony Richardson & Partners for the Rodinglea Housing Association. (fn. 180)
The building, thought 'beautiful' by the Gentleman's Magazine in 1841, (fn. 181) was not very highly regarded by the Historic Buildings Division of the LCC's Architect's Department in 1946 ('Taken as a whole not too bad a design. Detail poor.'). (fn. 182) The rather heavy central Doric colonnade and the first-floor balcony it supported were removed between 1947 and 1950 (fn. 183) and the railings along the street have also gone (doubtless during the war). But with these exceptions the front seems not much changed since the days when the Green flag flew over it, and, if not a powerful composition, retains distinctive features such as the sunk-panelled and corniced chimneystacks, the low, sunk-panelled screen walls at each end of the front, and the round, domed piers at the extremities and centre of the street frontage, again with sunk panels and a stepped 'cornice'.
Nos 135–151 (demolished)
These nine houses, forming terraces of six and three houses west and east of Manor Street, were built from 1854 to 1859 on the southern frontage of Catherine Wade's portion of the old Wade estate, to designs by her architects John Morris & Son (nearby at No. 85). At the same time the Morrises were laying out Manor (later Plimsoll) and Elizabeth (later the eastern part of Rigden) Streets, and houses on the east side of Duff Street and at Nos 48–66 Grundy Street. (fn. 184)
The builder of the first house, No. 141, was George Stent, (fn. 185) and the builder of the three houses east of Manor Street, Nos 147–151 (as well as of houses behind), was William Jeves, perhaps the cabinet-maker and upholsterer in the High Street: (fn. 186) the Jeveses owned or occupied Nos 149 and 151 in the 1860s and 1870s. (fn. 187)
These houses stood back behind forecourts or front gardens and Nos 135–145 were arranged so that the block plans of the east and west trios mirrored each other in the placing of their closet wings. (fn. 188) They all rose through three storeys to finish with an eaves under a pitched and slated roof. John Morris took some trouble over the eaves, and submitted to the Poplar Board of Works a drawing that shows that the upper member of the cornice was in fact a galvanized-iron gutter (fitted with an optimistic contrivance to keep it clear), the bedmould of the cornice was made of cement and the console brackets of iron. These last were of a form suggestive of west London in the 1860s, and these houses were 'Victorian', not the belated late-Georgian that had hitherto prevailed in the road. (fn. 189)
The first occupant of No. 139 was the curate of All Saints' Poplar, the Rev. R. C. Vaughan, but in 1877 this terrace included two lodging houses. By then there was no Wade ownership on this frontage. (fn. 190)
This attractive detached villa, sometime called Palm Cottage and set back behind a deep front garden, was built in 1834 for its first occupant, a solicitor and churchwarden of the parish of Limehouse, W. H. Harton (Plate 27c). By 1841 he had bought the site from William Kerbey, former linen-draper at No. 93 Poplar High Street and widower of Sarah, nee Wade. (fn. 191) It was contemporary with Monastery House, also built on Sarah Kerbey's inheritance, forming with that house a trio of detached villas including the slightly earlier Manor Cottage (see below). The next occupant, also a churchwarden (of Poplar), was T. J. Ditchburn, co-founder of the firm that became the Thames Ironworks and a notable shipbuilder. (fn. 192) In 1983–4 the house was adapted by Anthony Richardson & Partners, architects, for Circle 33 Housing Trust for use as a hostel. (fn. 193) It retains its external appearance: a stock-brick block under the wide eaves of a lowpitched slated roof, the front dressed with a concavecanopied veranda and the entrance, in the side facing Sturry Street, with a fluted Doric porch approached by a lateral flight of steps (fig. 39).
Monastery House (demolished)
The villa, spaciously set in grounds that occupied the full width of the present Sixth Form Centre and extended two-thirds of the way back to Grundy Street, was built in 1834 for his own occupation by William Kerbey. It was erected on his deceased wife's part of the old Wade estate. (fn. 194) Nothing is known of its appearance. In 1882 part of the site was bought to form the site of the new George Green's School and on the remainder Nos 1–9 Kerbey Street and Nos 15–35 Sturry Street were built.
Sixth Form Centre at former George Green's School
In the decade following the Education Act of 1870, the school established and endowed by George Green in 1828 at the corner of Chrisp Street seemed increasingly inadequate, both because its premises were constricted and because its continued provision of elementary education seemed a limited use of its endowment. (fn. 195) The Charity Commissioners therefore agreed that the school trustees should establish a 'middle class' school giving a wider secondary-type education. The Chrisp Street school was closed in December 1881, by which time the trustees' architect had applied to the Metropolitan Board of Works for permission to erect a school on part of the site of Monastery House. (fn. 196) He was (Sir) John Sulman (1849–1934), who had recently designed church and schools for Congregationalists at Highbury.
The site had been acquired by exchange for the Chrisp Street site, although the new one was more than twice the size of the old. (fn. 197) After the Poplar Board of Works insisted on a set-back frontage to widen the road, work went ahead in the hands of Ashby Brothers of Kingsland Road, at a tendered price of £10,596. (fn. 198) The design was published in November 1883 and the school was opened in June 1884. The final total cost, including fittings, was between £13,500 and £14,000. (fn. 199) (fn. 6)
The school was designed to accommodate, as a dayschool, 200 boys and 200 girls (constituting formally separate schools until 1901). They paid modest fees relievable by endowed scholarships and received a grammar-school-type education to the age of 16. (fn. 200)
Sulman's plan was carried out more or less as published — but omitting an infants' classroom in a northwest wing (fn. 201) — and still largely survives in the present building.
The plan of the ground floor, where the boys' school was located, was in two main parts differently arranged (fig. 40). On the east five large classrooms and a lecture room were placed on either side of a wide central corridor, from which they were separated but not wholly concealed by glazed partitions. On the west a large assembly- or lecture-hall, rising through the first-floor level, had smaller classrooms on one side, some capable of being opened into the central area. The rooms of the girls' school, on the east side of the building at first-floor level, repeated the arrangement of classrooms along a corridor. A flat roof-playground was provided for the girls. (fn. 202)
The architectural treatment, carried out in red brick and stone, in a manner a little reminiscent of James Brooks's St Columba's, Haggerston, was successfully aimed at the picturesque (Plate 24a). Each part of the building was expressed externally, with a roof of its own raised to a telling silhouette of 'Greyfriars' rather than London School Board type. The feeling is northern European and the effect, if lacking something in forcefulness, is memorable and individual. The interior is of less interest in its handling except for the hall, which is of pegged-pine construction and might well be associational architecture attempting to create the effect of a stateroom in a big Poplar-built ship (Plate 24c).
Two defects in the building were soon evident. (fn. 203) One was the lack of laboratories, remedied in 1902 by a north-easterly extension (architect, William Clarkson of Poplar). (fn. 204) The other, never fully remedied, was the lack of play-space.
The first 25 years of the school's life showed that its endowments were insufficient to support it when the collapse of Poplar's modest prosperity made fee-paying very difficult. In 1909, therefore, (with effect from 1910) the school was taken over by the LCC, with the approval of the trustees, but somewhat against the inclinations of the Board of Education. The school was thus one of London's very few endowed secondary schools to be 'maintained'. In 1923 it became one of the first coeducational secondary schools in London at sixth-form level. (fn. 205)
On the centenary in 1928 of the foundation of the school (in Chrisp Street) the George Green Association fulfilled Sulman's design by adding the projecting clock to the tower on the road frontage. (fn. 206) In 1968 it was decided that the school should become comprehensive and move to a new building in Manchester Road, opened in 1976 (see page 527). The old building reopened in 1977, providing teaching to pupils in subjects not taught by their own schools at sixth-form level or those from schools without a sixth-form. (fn. 207)
Apart from the loss of the high-pitched roof of the clock-tower during the war, and the unsightly post-war additions on the top floor facing Sturry Street, the exterior in 1993 was not much changed since 1884.
Manor Cottage and Nos 155–165 East India Dock Road (demolished)
Of the former Wade estate, that part which came to Susannah and her husband James Grundy of Hale Street, builder, was the first to show building here. That was in 1825, when James Grundy erected a detached villa, Manor Cottage, for the Grundys' own occupation, standing back from the East India Dock Road behind a long garden and opening to the east side of Kerbey Street. About the same time, in August 1824, the Grundys sold the road frontage south-east of the Manor Cottage to Simon Ive, a shipwright of Blackwall Yard, who built on it a terrace of three houses called Suffolk Place (later Nos 161–165) abutting east on James (later Vesey) Street. (fn. 208) The houses had round-headed first-floor windows and the eaves of the slated, pitched roof were exposed. (fn. 209) After the Grundys' departure from Manor Cottage about 1837 the house was divided, although remaining for some time in 'well-to-do' occupation. (fn. 210) In about 1868–71, however, it lost its front garden when an auctioneer in the City and the Hackney Road, C. S. Shaw, built seven ordinary-looking houses there, three facing Kerbey Street (Nos 2–6) and four facing East India Dock Road (numbered in 1893 Nos 155–159A). (fn. 211) These included the Recreation Tavern at the corner, No. 155 East India Dock Road.
Nos 167–171 and former Post Office (demolished)
These three houses, called Eastcot Place, and built about 1828 on Susannah Grundy's part of the Wade estate, were by 1840 owned by W. H. Harton, the occupier of No. 153, and one or two single women named Harton lived in Nos 167 or 169 from the 1840s to the 1870s. For many years from 1864 No. 171 was occupied by Matthew Brownfield, the house surgeon at Poplar Hospital. (fn. 212)
They were replaced in 1911 by a Post Office and sorting office built on a set-back frontage by Howell J. Williams Ltd on a tendered price of £4,232, to designs by John Rutherford for the Office of Works. (fn. 213) It was boarded-up for demolition in 1967. (fn. 214)
Nos 173–177 (demolished)
Called William Terrace, these houses were built in about 1845 on Elizabeth Chrisp Willis's part of the Wade estate, although they soon passed out of her ownership. They had exposed mansard roofs and correspondingly shaped party walls rising above them. (fn. 215)
Nos 179–185 (demolished)
These houses were also built on Elizabeth Chrisp Willis's land, here as an enterprise (embracing also houses behind in William, later Woollett, Street) of the local building speculator Onesiphorus Randall (see page 208), who lived at No. 185 and named the row Randall Terrace. They came into occupation in 1831–7. Randall's executors were still the owners in 1875. (fn. 216) Shopfronts were inserted in two of the houses in 1878–9, and about that time one house passed from an estate agent to a confectioner and another from a physician to a purveyor of ham and beef. (fn. 217) They were plain three-storeyed houses with a raised panel over the second-floor windows. (fn. 218)
Nos 187 and 187A–B and site of George Green's Chrisp Street School (demolished)
These three plain, four-storeyed houses, together with three houses and two two-storeyed shops in Chrisp Street, were built in 1882 for the local estate agent William Warren of East India Dock Road. (fn. 219) (No. 187A was still owned under the same name in 1937.) (fn. 220) The house at the corner of Chrisp Street, No. 187B, was immediately converted by Charles Bell, architect, for use as a branch of the London and South-Western (later Barclays) Bank (builders, Atherton & Latta of Chrisp Street). (fn. 221) Latterly it had a pilastered and arcaded stone front to the road, perhaps of 1926–7. (fn. 222)
The site had been acquired by Warren in exchange with the previous owners, the trustees of a school established by George Green at the corner of East India Dock Road and Chrisp Street in 1828, who obtained the present site of the former George Green's School, in which Warren had an interest. (fn. 223)
The site for the Chrisp Street school had been acquired by George Green in two parts in 1828 and 1829 from Elizabeth Chrisp Willis. He built an infant school on the more easterly part immediately, (fn. 224) and in 1831–2 paid the Blackwall builder, William Constable, £800 for another infant school here, presumably on the western part of the site. (fn. 225) In the years 1837–9 Green spent upward of £1,994, most of it paid to a builder named Yard, on building for what he called the 'Irish Protestant School' here. Thomas Lambert of Blackwall was paid £765 for building here in 1842 (fn. 226) and a builder in Poplar High Street, William French, made additions in 1846, when there was a 'governess's living room under the gallery'. (fn. 227) The school was closed and demolished in 1881–2.
Nos 189–223 (Nos 189–195 demolished)
Between Chrisp Street and Bow Lane lay a part of Black Boy Field and two-acre close separated from the rest of the property southward by the making of the East India Dock Road. In the eighteenth century it had been owned, as copyhold of the manor of Stepney, by a farmer and grazier called Rogers and then, as trustee under his will, by a farrier. By the operation of gavelkind in the manor of Stepney, the trust had descended by 1807 to the farrier's sons. In that year they sold the land needed for the road to the road trustees, and the residue they surrendered to three brothers called Griffiths — two 'gentlemen', of Shoreditch and Hoxton, and a bookbinder in Piccadilly — who were evidently the heirs of Rogers. (fn. 228)
In 1850 James Griffiths of Mile End and William and Elizabeth Simons of Vauxhall Bridge Road sold the westernmost part of the road frontage to the East and West India Docks and Birmingham Junction Railway for their line. (fn. 229) This presaged the disposal of the rest of the land for development after its partition between James Griffiths and the Simonses, the site of Nos 189–205 going to the latter and that of Nos 207–223 to the former (see page 175). (fn. 230) At the surviving houses of the Simonses (Nos 199–205) the buildings are noticeably humbler than further west in the road.
The house at No. 191 was built in 1851 for the builders' merchant who had his premises there, probably to designs by John Morris. (fn. 231)
Police Station at Nos 193–195 (demolished).
About 1861 stables at No. 193 were taken for use by the Metropolitan Police, (fn. 232) and in 1867–8 these and the house of the builder John Jeffrey at No. 195 were adapted for use as a police station by Lathey Brothers of Battersea Park at a tendered price of £1,193 to designs by T. C. Sorby, architect. (fn. 233) This was under lease from the freeholder until the police bought the freehold in 1892. (fn. 234) In 1897–8 the site was rebuilt for the Metropolitan Police by Willmott & Sons of Hitchin at a tendered price of £9,985. (fn. 235) This was a good example of the work of the police architect, John Dixon Butler, large-scaled but well detailed, big but not intimidating — qualities which the Arts-and-Crafts style and materials were well fitted to express (Plate 23c; fig. 41). It was of three and four storeys, the latter rising to a straight-sided gable. The building was of brick, banded with stone, the main door marked by a large projecting shell-hood, the windowopenings of the lower two storeys emphatically mullioned-and-transomed in stone, and the flues grouped in two deep chimneystacks. (fn. 236) The station was closed in 1971 and subsequently demolished, being replaced by a police office in Market Way. (fn. 237)
No. 197. This was built in 1897 by Harris & Wardrop of Limehouse for its occupants, stationers and booksellers, (fn. 238) but has lost all its pleasantly lettered fasciaboard (where the road-number appeared five times) and exuberant decorative trimmings (Plate 23c). (fn. 239)
Nos 199–223. These were all built in 1852–5, despite the earlier look of Nos 211–215 (Plate 29a). The humbly two-storeyed Nos 199–201 have an incised tablet lettered i argo villas 1852. No. 205 was built for and perhaps by the freeholder, William Simons, a plasterer, whose widow lived here. (fn. 240)
The houses built on James Griffiths's property were less humble but just as old-fashioned. No. 211, bearing a tablet incised CLEVELAND HOUSE 1852, was first occupied by a female grocer. (fn. 241) Its name seems to betoken nothing grander than that James Griffiths lived in Cleveland Street off the Mile End Road.
Nos 213–215 were perhaps built by David Caldow Simpson in association with Frederick Simpson. They had an interest in, and probably built, the adjacent Nos 217–221, and their associate, the local auctioneer John Carter, had the sewer laid in front of this stretch of houses and by 1857 had a lien on Nos 213–215. (fn. 242) The Simpsons and Carter may therefore have developed Nos 213–221 or 223 jointly. Nos 213–215 are set back — originally behind forecourts projecting on the pavement, where a central gate led to paired front doors. The block plans are mirrored, with small rear wings. (fn. 243) Behind later shops the stock-brick fronts with (originally) undressed straight-headed window-openings rise through three storeys to finish with a block cornice and parapet, behind which dormer windows are set in the front slope of a slated mansard roof. The party wall is carried up above the roof-line. Between the house-fronts is a tablet incised EMMA PLACE. The rear is similar but the heads of the windows are not gauged and there is no parapet. To judge from No. 213 the interiors are without interest, although that house contains original features, such as the dog-leg staircase with square-section balusters and round, simply turned newels, the plainest of chimneypieces and skirting boards, and some simple joinery. No. 215 was occupied as a lodging house by the 1860s. In 1899 the occupants were an auctioneer (No. 213) and a building society (No. 215) but in 1902 the auctioneer covered most of the back garden of No. 213 with a workshop. (fn. 244)
Nos 217–223 were built at the same time, probably by the Simpsons, under the name of Trafalgar Terrace. They were in commercial use from the beginning and are now much altered. (fn. 245)
Nos 225–251, 251A–F, 253A (Nos 243–249 demolished)
This frontage to East India Dock Road was part of the property, including land south of the road, bought as enfranchised copyhold of the manor of Stepney in 1808 by Hugh McIntosh, 'excavator' and contractor, from his employer, the East India Dock Company, which had itself bought the land in 1804. (fn. 246)
Nos 225–243. All these were built about 1845–8 after McIntosh had disposed of the property (Plate 28c). (fn. 247) The three small houses at Nos 225–229 were called Hole's Terrace, presumably built by the mason Josiah Hole, on whose stoneyard they were erected: in 1875 a Mrs Hole still owned them. (fn. 248) No. 231 was first built in 1874. (fn. 249) Nos 233–239, sometime called John's Terrace, although built long after the East India Dock Company sold the site to McIntosh, are the only properties disposed of by the company that observed the decent-sized plots of 20ft by 100ft into which it divided its land for sale. (fn. 250) They have lost their ground-floor fronts and no longer exhibit, as Nos 237 and 239 still did in about 1930, round-headed door- and ground-floor window-openings, the former filled with Classical doorcases under decorative fanlights and the latter furnished with Gothick glazingbars. They were thus similar to No. 214 on the other side of the road, built a few years earlier. Like that house they showed the survival here of late-Georgian townhouse design. (fn. 251) As built they all rose over basements behind areas, but shopfronts were put in at Nos 233 and 235 in 1878 and 1884. (fn. 252) From 1894 to 1905 No. 239 was the Poplar Synagogue and from 1909 to 1933 No. 237 was the premises of William Whiffin, the photographer who recorded much of pre-war Poplar. (fn. 253)
Nos 241 and 243 (Folkestone Terrace) were built at the same time, perhaps on the initiative of a 'surgeon', T. E. Bowkett, the first occupant of No. 243 (until the 1870s). (fn. 254) This house had the added dignity of a continued balcony, block cornice and parapet: the sober groundfloor front was perhaps put in for Mr Bowkett when he was secretary of the Poplar Literary and Scientific Institution here in 1853–8. (fn. 255) The shop-window shown at No. 241 in Plate 28c was installed in 1903. (fn. 256) Nos 225– 241 survive, more or less altered.
Nos 245–253A. The residential character of the great eastward road was here becoming hesitant and intermittent, and industry had a presence. At Nos 245–247 a timber yard was established in 1859–60, the timber merchant being succeeded by engineers in about 1876 and they by carmen by 1882 until at least the 1930s. (fn. 257) Industrial usage here declared itself on the street frontage, albeit discreetly. (fn. 258) At Nos 249–251 a shipsmith had premises from 1844, building a big warehouse behind in 1864: (fn. 259) shipsmiths continued here until the late 1940s. (fn. 260) The shops at 251A–F were first built, very humbly, in the 1870s on the site of a terrace of five cottages built in about 1814–17 end-on to the road, evidently by a resident of Shadwell and called Union Place. (fn. 261) This was just across the parish boundary, in Bromley. Nos 251C–253A is a steel-framed building erected in 1938–9, evidently by and for Leeds clothiers (fn. 262) — one of a small number of buildings in the road signalling some economic revival after the Depression.
Nos 253–301 (Nos 253–259, 269–301 demolished)
Eastward of No. 251 and the parish boundary of Poplar and Bromley, the first buildings in the road, sometimes quite early in date, represent a different phase of its development from those westward. This phase was not the often tardy extension of 'London' houses and public or semi-public buildings along a main artery (as the docks enjoyed their brief early Victorian prosperity), but the clustering of houses, sometimes humble, near the gate of the East India Dock itself. In 1807 this ground, eastward to Quag Lane (later Brunswick Road) and, on the south side of the road, eastward to Robin Hood Lane, was sold, as part of Coachman's Field, by John Perry and the sons of William Wells to Thomas Ashton, the Blackwall wharfinger, and Thomas Hale of Cannon Street, City, builder (see page 190). (fn. 263) They sold the sites a year later, when, however, few if any on this side of the road had been built upon. (fn. 264)
Nos 253–263. Called Bengal Place from the beginning, and of which only reconstructed fragments survive, these houses were built in 1812–13 or soon after. (fn. 265) This was perhaps by William Dalgleish, a timber merchant of Limehouse interested in property hereabouts, whose mortgagees, also timber merchants, were co-owners with him of No. 255 in 1815. In that year they sold it to one of the Navy's sea-going sailmakers, for £420. (fn. 266) These were plain, three-storeyed houses, with two 'Captains' among their occupants in 1827, but by 1866 there was a pawnbroker at No. 261 and coffee-rooms at No. 263. (fn. 267) The latter became an early cinema, being operated in 1909 by the British Bioscope Company — perhaps until 1915. (fn. 268) Nos 257–259 represent the building of 'new structures' in 1939. (fn. 269)
Nos 265–277. These houses, called Calcutta Place, were built between 1820 and 1827 under 99-year leases. (fn. 270) But they were (and at Nos 265 and 267 are) very unaspiring structures, united by a continued block cornice and parapet, and given the plain rectangular panels over the first-floor windows (here proud of, not recessed into, the wall face) that are so characteristic of the humblest lateGeorgian-type terrace-building in London. (fn. 271) By 1847 at least three of the houses were shops. (fn. 272)
No. 279. This, the Sir John Franklin public house, was a three-storeyed building erected in 1859 for £778 by Thomas Ennor of Vauxhall Gardens and Limehouse to a routine 'Bayswater Classical' design by James Harrison of Moorgate. (fn. 273) It was demolished for the duplication of the Blackwall Tunnel and replaced in 1963 by the present public house, set further back, of the same name. The architects for Mann & Crossman were Stewart, Hendry & Smith. (fn. 274)
Nos 281–291. Little is known of these, except that they were begun in 1814–15, under the name (perhaps voicing Cockney sarcasm) of 'Diamond Point'. (fn. 275) An unexecuted intention to rebuild No. 281 in 1879 evidently encountered difficulties: no architect was named to receive the published tenders, which ranged so widely (from £1,492 to £943) as to provoke the Builder into exclamation. (fn. 276) No. 291 was from 1856 to 1870 the office of the Poplar District Board of Works. (fn. 277) Latterly it had a front of some slight Arts-and-Crafts aspirations, with a high shaped parapet above the cornice.
The Dock House Tavern at Nos 293–295.
This establishment was set up about 1818 at No. 293 at the eastern corner of East India Dock Road and Ann Street (later Oceana Close), to replace the tavern removed from the building at the eastern corner of East India Dock Road and Brunswick Road. (fn. 278) Very soon its curtilage included the frequent appendage of public-houses in Poplar — five tiny cottages built at the back in 'Bromley Place'. (fn. 279) It was probably altered in 1867 (W. Barrett, architect) and was extended in 1879–80 to take in No. 295, making it a big but drab-looking establishment. (fn. 280) In about 1890 the prominent local butcher and ship's victualler Henry Wickes took it as licensee, and borrowed sums of £7,750 and £2,000 on mortgage from the then owners, the brewers Reid & Company (later Watney, Combe & Reid), perhaps to improve it. (fn. 281) A major reconstruction was intended by the brewers in 1927, although this perhaps was delayed until 1935. (fn. 282) The plans show a fine example of the big and busy East London public house (fig. 42). In a restrained version of 'Brewers' Georgian' externally, it had on the ground floor two tile-floored public bars, and a saloon bar, lounge, and luncheon room, all oakfloored, while the first floor was taken up mainly by a very large oak-floored 'club room'. On the second floor there were four bedrooms, a large living-room and five staff bedrooms.
For the approach to the Blackwall Tunnel, which now occupies the former sites of Nos 281–301, see page 644.
Day Industrial School, formerly Brunswick Road Board School, previously Ragged School, at Nos 299– 301 (demolished).
In 1863, the committee of a ragged school in Dingle Lane (that is, a school for the free instruction of the poorest children) took a 20-year lease from the East and West India Dock Company of ground at the west corner of East India Dock Road and Quag Lane (Brunswick Road). (fn. 283) The site had been bought from Thomas Ashton and Thomas Hale by the timber merchant William Dalgleish in 1809 for £183, sold by him in 1811 to a gentleman of Whitechapel, John Gardner, for £247, and by him to the East India Dock Company in 1816 for £340: (fn. 284) it was still unbuilt upon in 1863.
Here the committee erected a school with a frontage of about 28ft to East India Dock Road and about 48ft to Quag Lane, to designs by the local architect John Warrington Morris (Plate 25a). (fn. 285) It was opened in 1864. (fn. 286) The ground floor consisted of the infants' schoolroom, and the first floor of the mixed schoolroom, the total accommodation (in 1873) being for 287 children. The architectural expression, in brick laid in Flemish bond, was simple, with slightly 'industrial' forms. The front to East India Dock Road had entrances for boys and girls on either side of a large central window, and there was another small entrance to the west. The central window, like the large window above it and the ground-floor windows of the long return front, was flat-topped but with rounded shoulders marked by 'engineers' impostblocks of stone. The first-floor windows on this front were of factory-type, wide and segmentally arched. A large chimney-stack was corbelled out from this wall at first-floor level, rising to ridge height with asymmetrically placed offsets. Small lucarnes lit or ventilated the apex of the roof. (fn. 287)
In 1874 the dock company sold the site to the London School Board for £6,000, (fn. 288) and the school was enlarged in 1874–5 by Andrew Killby of Limehouse at a contract price of £2,840 to designs by E. R. Robson (1835–1917), the School Board's architect. (fn. 289) All the additions were at the rear or north end, where a brick cross-wing was built in slightly suaver Renaissance style, with steeper-pitched roof, tall vertically channelled chimney-stacks and rectangular mullioned-and-transomed windows. This accommodated on each floor two new classrooms, which were smaller than the old ones: on the ground floor one was designated the 'Babies' Room'. The total accommodation was raised to 483, infants and 'mixed'. (fn. 290)
The Brunswick Road Board School, as it was now called, was enlarged once more, in 1880, by Charles Cox, builder, of the Commercial Road, at a contract price of £3,426, this time extending the building substantially westward. The architect was again E. R. Robson, and the style and material congruent with what had gone before, but, perhaps partly in recognition of the mainroad location, exhibiting a more incisive design. (fn. 291) Much of the new accommodation was given to recreation space, all the ground floor being used for covered playgrounds. The first and second floors each contained two large classrooms divided by glazed partitions, and above was a flat roof-playground open at the front but roofed over at the rear. The windows, segmental-headed on the ground and first floors and square-headed on the second floor, were of increasing size with each storey, and composed well in the wall face, while the high parapet which finished the front and guarded the roof-playground had three semi-circular inverted arches filled with plain railings. (fn. 292) Unlike in Morris's building, the brickwork was laid in English bond.
In 1899 the conversion of the school into London's second Day Industrial School was approved by the Home Office and the Education Department, (fn. 293) and the necessary alterations were designed for the Home Office by T. J. Bailey (1844–1910), Robson's successor as the School Board's architect, and executed by F. & F. J. Wood of Cleveland Street, Mile End Road, in 1900–1 at a contract price of £4,489. (fn. 294) The school, which gave both general elementary education and vocational instruction, was intended to accommodate 150 boys and girls, including truants from other schools. The hours were from eight until six, requiring a kitchen and large dining hall, and a drill-room was added to the playgrounds. (fn. 295) Falling numbers caused the school, opened in 1901, to be closed in 1909. (fn. 296) From 1925 alterations were being made to accommodate shops, workshops and a cafe in the old building, which was demolished in 1956. (fn. 297)