Thanks to the workshops we’ve been running for our community showcase Our Place, Our Story, we’ve come across so many fond memories of the places and people of East London. We really enjoyed celebrating our area for this showcase, but knew there was so much more of East London yet to be uncovered - history not taught, stories not told, gems yet to be discovered. St Margaret’s House started in Bethnal Green in 1889, so we’ve been lucky enough to see just how much East London has to offer and we’d love to hear your stories about this amazing place we call home.
That’s why we spent August 2019 inviting you to share your secrets of East London with us using #ELUncovered - and we heard about some amazing memories of this area, and discovered some hidden spots to visit! Read all the #ELUncovered stories below:
“Here are a few photos that belonged to my father which were taken at St. Margaret's House during the early years of World War 2.
My father, my uncle and their friends attended a youth club there for many years , always affectionately referred to by them as "Maggie's".
In photo #1 my father, William Beazley, is standing on the right (wearing light coloured trousers).
In photo #2 my uncle, Edwin Beazley, is on the left with George Sharp (in army uniform) in the centre, and Arthur Crutchlow on the right.
Photo #3 shows my uncle, Edwin Beazley, seated centre with Arthur Crutchlow to his right and George Atkinson to his left.
I do have another photo somewhere showing the girls who used to attend the youth club (including two who went on to marry my uncle Edwin and his friend Arthur Crutchlow) but as yet I have been unable find it.
My father always looked back on his time at "Maggie's" with great affection, it was obviously one of the high points of his younger years.”
“I think one of the most charming diversions in East London are the canal waterways – there is nothing more peaceful than an aimless meander along the row of houseboats, with the hum of birds and whizz of passing cyclist providing a soundtrack to your journey.
There is ample opportunity to reflect on the beauty of life, and to chew over the details of your life until you have your random thoughts nicely digested. For the water abode curious among is, it’s also a chance to steal a glimpse at our would-be lives as captains of our own floating homes.
A welcome moment of calm in a buzzing city. Not a milling crowd in sight, or a “mind the gap” in earshot.”
“My grandfather used to go to St. Margaret’s house in the 1960’s and would pack small animal figures. I don’t know which company made them or where they ended up or whether he got any pay.
He enjoyed doing it and it made him feel useful, he was in his mid 70’s at the time.
An amputee veteran of WW1.”
“Our favourite #ELUncovered is on Thursdays in Hackney with Refugee Kitchen and StreetVet and our mobile library J
We get lots of visitors including some of the 4-legged variety!”
“Truly love visiting all the charity and vintage shops across East London, you’re always bound to find some hidden gems.”
Sophie Van Eetvelt
“My favourite place in East London? Where to start… have to choose the Poplar Union because it’s got great coffee, pizza, atmosphere, music, it’s by the canal and it’s home to Sunday Assembly East End.”
“Four Corners is a historical gem, we’ve been around for over 40 years, but our neighbours St. Margaret’s House have been in Bethnal Green a lot longer.”
“My Great Grandfather was in the Navy and was based in Woolwich for quite a while during my Gran’s childhood. When I moved to London, I lived on the UEL Docklands campus whilst studying, and from my room I could look out across the Royal Albert Dock towards Woolwich. It was really nice to feel like I had a family connection to East London, as I am the first in my family since my Gran to live in this fabulous city. After graduating, I moved to Wood Green – when I told my Gran where I’d moved to, she told me that she had also lived in Wood Green during WW2, whilst teaching at a school in Tottenham! I’ve recently moved back to East London and it definitely feels like home!”
SAZZY (FROM SAZZY AND FRAN CAFE)
“Blackberry Picking in Hackney Marshes - Every Year it happens, I start to notice the blackberries along the road by the bus stop. They turn from red to black covered in London detritus. Then I know it is time, there is always someone else who will be up for making the pilgrimage, tupperware in hand, down to Hackney Marshes. The heat has ripened them and the torrential July downpours have fattened them. I fill my container full reverting back to the primal urge of hunter gatherer ancestors desperately risking the painful pricks to collect the precious sustenance. I carefully bike home, but upon arriving notice they have spilled into a dark squashed mass in my bag. Blackberries are on offer at my local supermarket.”
“Bistrotheque - We love having people stay at the flat. Our friend is down for a protest, something about rising sea levels. He texts me he is on the way home, and I tell him I am out but will be back soon. I slip into my dress, grab keys, book, and phone and am out the door. I take a seat at the end of the bar, order a glass of red and an enormous bottle of sparkling water. I read the whole book and then check my phone. Everyone is at home and they are wondering what we have for dinner. I wonder about being tipsy from one glass of wine, but pay while telling myself to keep it together. I walk round the block, and go back to cook broccoli and discuss what we can do as individuals to combat the coming climate crisis.”
“Sazzy and Fran Café - What would you like? A flat white you say with oat milk. I put the transaction through and you tap your phone on the card machine while I grind the beans into the coffee basket. “Long day ahead?, nope day off today “ you respond smiling in anticipation. I pull the shot, steam the milk holding my hand to the jug to reach the perfect temperature. I pour slowly once around and then draw a pattern on top. “I plan to do nothing” you say as I hand over your coffee, “the best kind of day off” I agree.”
“Stumbling upon Ayoka Charity Shop has been literally life-changing for me. I had just moved to London and didn't know anyone. I started exploring Bethnal Green and discovered the shop, where Nigel ( the shop manager) was so welcoming and friendly that I instantly wanted to work in a place with people like him. I applied for a job at St. Margaret's and here I am almost 4 years later, still loving it. <3”
“My Grandad was a very proud cockney and proud to have been born within the sound of Bow Bells!”
‘‘A particularly cornery corner shop’’
“Growing up by the sea meant I didn't realise how much I'd miss it when I moved to London! Stumbling across Old Ford Lock was perfect. It's like stepping into a hidden part of London (perfect for water-lovers). Now, whenever friends visit, I take them there to show them there's so much more to London than skyscrapers.”
“I love the old Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park close to Mile End. It is wild and green and wonderful. One afternoon on a cold but sunny October Sunday I went for a walk there and saw a dapper looking ginger cat and took a picture. A woman with her children was playing close by and she said: "Ah Dr. P. are you getting your pictures taken?" I started talking to her and it turned out that Dr. P. belongs to the family and pretends to be a dog. He goes for walks with them every day and sits until they tell him to come.”
We sent out a call out asking what everyone’s favourite place in London is - here’s what you said!
• Joyce Bassett: “Definitely Vic Park, swings, deers, boating lake, Visiting the cafe, watching tennis courts wonderful memories.”
• Barry Malindine: “Kings Arms Buckfast st”
• Jeff Theobald: “Prospect of whitby pub on the Thames at wapping”
• Jackie Newman: “Vicky Park n the pie n mash shop near Valance Rd!!!!”
• Sammy Semi: “Teviot estate Bromley by bow and the canal there”
• Adrian Barker: “St Mathews Church and grounds. Funeral place of the Krays. So peaceful and tranquil away from the hustle and bustle of London's main roads.”
• Peter Maillardet: “Catching the old “Push & Pull” train from Bethnal Green Junction to Chingford in the 50s to spend all day roaming in Epping Forest and getting loads of fresh air!”
• Janis Morrison: “The paddling pool in Barmy Park! to me as a child in the 50's it was as exciting as a day at the seaside! 😀”
• Jo Phillips: “Walk through westbrooke House from Victoria Park Square directly through there underground is an old air raid shelter”
• Thelma Fisher: “Nettleswell House corner of Victoria Park Sq was an old hunting lodge from, I think, the time of Henry 8th. St John's Church late 1940's early 50's use to hold garden parties in the walled garden.”
• Rambling Tours London: “the ruins of St Mary Spital, Dennis Severs house, and definitely the Nomadic Community Graden just off brick lane”
• Elaine Bevan: “My Mum and Aunt used to go to St. Margaret’s years ago carting me along as a child.
• Linda Murphy: “My family went on holidays from the country holiday fund at St Margaret’s house great times had by all. We went to stay with families little Hampton , Portsmouth, Cromer, Shrewsbury for a fortnight and got really spoilt and would come home with lots of gifts and new clothes. Myself and my sister went to leaton lodge in Shrewsbury two years running and the family owned a farm in wales where they took us to stay for a weekend . I know that different people own the lodge now and they sent me some pictures a couple of years ago but that was our favourite place of all the holidays we went on.”
• Patricia Marsh: “I used to go club in St Margaret’s house & I also used to go tap dancing in there.”