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In Mile End Old Town

April 30, 2014
by the gentle author

Much of the streetscape of the East End was broken in the last century, with fine squares lost in Stepney, Spitalfields and Haggerston, yet in Mile End an entire quarter of early-nineetenth century construction still exists surrounding Tredegar Sq (1823-9) and is cherished to this day. Taking advantage of the dramatic lighting afforded by the April weather, I spent an afternoon in these streets with my camera this week. Within a stone’s throw of St Clement’s Hospital, formerly the City of London Union Workhouse, I discovered a stuccoed terrace worthy of Belgravia – while the intervening streets were filled by houses which manifested all the degrees of social and economic distinctions that lay between the two.

Terrace in Mile End Rd erected by Ratcliffe builder, William Marshall ,in 1822-4

Formerly the City of London Union Workhouse, 1849

Tredegar Sq, 1828-9

Stucco was applied upon the north side of Tredegar Sq in the eighteen-thirties

Tredegar Square was re-landscaped in 1951

40 Tredegar Sq was formerly home to brush-maker Henry Wainwright who murdered his mistress and buried her dismembered body under the floor of his Whitechapel warehouse in 1875

Litchfield Rd – Sir Charles Morgan, Lord Tredegar sold this land for development

In Coborn Rd

Coborn Rd

Coborn Rd

Central Foundation School for Girls, Morgan St

School Entrance,  College Terrace

Holy Trinity Church, Morgan St

Eighteen-thirties villa, Rhondda Grove

Cottage Grove of 1823, now Rhondda Grove

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In Old Stepney

28 Responses leave one →
  1. April 30, 2014

    W0nderful photos, so happy to see that these houses have not only survived, but are looking much better than in my childhood! Valerie

  2. April 30, 2014

    What wonderful images and an inspirational site.

  3. Victoria permalink
    April 30, 2014

    Mile End village and Tredegar Square have been added to my list of ideas for Sunday walks. Thank you for discovering and sharing! I love London squares, especially where there’s a garden within, and even more if the garden is open. I recently discovered a rich array of squares in Dalston that I’d like to go back to and research the origins; De Beauvoir in particular which has beautiful gothic style houses bordering three sides and looked wonderful coated in wisteria racemes!

  4. April 30, 2014

    Fascinating post, lovely photographs – this area is on my ‘to do next’ list because I have been walking and posting on the Regent’s Canal and noticed Tredegar Square while researching surrounding areas. Thank you – I am spurred on to visit!

  5. April 30, 2014

    What we would have left if these architects would not have been…? (Answer: Nothing exceptional!) — Very fine architectural studies!

    Love & Peace

  6. April 30, 2014

    What wonderful pictures – such elegant, fine houses.

  7. April 30, 2014

    Superb photos, Gentle Author – careful and effective use of kerb lines, street furniture, railings, shadows and trees to complement the architecture. You have inspired me to revisit the area soon.

  8. Sally permalink
    April 30, 2014

    Another fascinating place to add to our list of explorations. Does anyone know the significance of the Welsh names?

  9. alison homewood permalink
    April 30, 2014

    A great tribute to a wonderful historic vestige – but why did you not include the handsome Coopers’ Company school buildings which take up a large part of the square, historically and metaphorically? East End boys were taught there until 1971 when Coopers joined forces with the Prisca Coborn School for Girls on the Mile End Road and moved to Upminster, Essex to form a big new school, which is still supported by the Coopers Livery company. I know – I was one of those girls.

    Each year, there is a charity walk that leaves the old school in Tredegar Square and walks through some pretty ugly and deprived areas down to the new school. Maybe the two schools are worth a column in their own right, with the long-standing historical roots?

  10. David permalink
    April 30, 2014

    Wonderful pictures, thank you

  11. Gary Arber permalink
    April 30, 2014

    Mile End Old Town extended to the south side of Roman Road there is a M.E.O.T. boundary stone on number 422 opposite my shop.

  12. April 30, 2014

    Gorgeous buildings. This is one reason why I do not like very modern buildings being built in the City of London. We must do more to preserve beautiful old buildings.

  13. Ayan permalink
    April 30, 2014

    Beautiful pictures. We uses to love walking around & having long chats along these streets in our younger days.

  14. sprite permalink
    April 30, 2014

    Can’t help missing the time when that square was more derelict and most houses were squatted, before the gentrification that has put those houses well, well above the purse of local people. Amazing how ‘our’ area has so many different stratas of societies nowdays, living in parallel universes but rarely meeting; a far cry from the old East End streets where cockneys had their front doors opened and everyone knew everybody else. Sigh!

  15. Barbara permalink
    May 1, 2014

    I think it has all been bulldozed now, but we used to turn right out of Mile End station, go down Southen Grove (“the buildings”) and then turn right into Lear Street, formerly Cordelia Street. My grandparents lived there. The houses consisted of one long terrace each side of the road with front doors straight onto the pavement and no front gardens. Mostly houses divided into two informal flats. There was a brick wall at the end of the road, which was a cul de sac. My grandparents always said there was a factory behind it, but apparently no record of it exists now.

    During the war there was a communal shelter running down the complete street, and I remember being put to bed in it. The adults all piled their coats on top of us to keep us warm. We heard the sounds of the “warning”, when everybody started singing, and afterwards the “all-clear”. Then some sort of official (air raid warden?) would come in and say which houses or other building had been hit with the bombs. I was very young at the time, but the memory and the sounds are still very vivid.

  16. Edie permalink
    May 1, 2014

    oh thanks Gentle Author, I was house-sitting just there in January when I was in London, now I am back at work and just sneaking a look at your blog to help my sanity, and look what I found, now I’m all London-sick again! Wail! Actually, East-London-sick!

  17. Cherub permalink
    May 28, 2014

    I was very interested to read Alison’s comment on the origins of Cooper’s Coborn school as I lived in Upminster for about 18 years but had no real idea of the history. I also spent 3 years at Mile End studying history at Queen Mary College. This was about 20 years ago when it was named Queen Mary and Westfield for a while after merging with the old Westfield College at Hampstead. Years before my husband was at Queen Mary and his friend lived at a hall of residence in Mile End called Albert Stern House, which back in the late 70s and early 80s his friend assures me was a total dump, like something from The Young Ones 🙂

  18. Susan Gunning permalink
    April 14, 2017

    I have an ancestor who was buried at Holy Trinity Church. I’d like to know if there is anywhere that has pictures of the headstones in the church yard.

  19. Diana Buck permalink
    July 5, 2017

    I never make a comment but I absolutely love this site. Thanks for all of your hard work, a work of love I am sure and know that I am reading and enjoying even if I rarely comment.

  20. June 12, 2018

    Thank you for beautiful photographs. My 4 x great grandfather John Turpin (1781-1849) lived and died at No. 1 Tredegar Square, and three of his daughters continued to live there until the 1880s.

  21. Denis McSweeney permalink
    August 17, 2018

    In 1950 my family rented two rooms upstairs at 15 Carlton Square. the downstairs was occupied by Jessie Corry. We then moved to Limehouse in 1953.

  22. Barbara permalink
    December 7, 2018

    During the war (born 1940) we sometimes were at grandmothers in Mile End. House behind “The Buildings” (flats) in Lear Street, formerly called Cordelia Street. The terraced houses opened straight onto the pavement, and there was an air-raid shelter down the middle of the street. At the end of the road (cul de sac) was a high brick wall, and I was told there was a factory behind it. I have never been able to find any information about this factory, so presume it was a war effort. Lear Street and, I guess, surroundings was demolished some time after 1960, when my grandmother was moved out into a flat, not to far away. I have never been able to find the street on an old map.
    Anybody remember any of these places?

  23. Marc Hopla permalink
    March 11, 2019

    Interestingly, there seems to be some connection with South Wales. Rhondda and Tredegar……

  24. Matt permalink
    October 27, 2019

    My ancestor George Bohn had a bakery on Mile End Road near the turnpike No.1 Barnes Place I don’t suppose there are any pictures of Barnes Place as I don’t think it’s there now.
    George got into trouble around 1848 and lost the bakery, he died in a debtors prison
    Love all theses old pics, even now these old buildings fascinate us, especially those with family connections in the area

  25. John Garwood permalink
    January 20, 2022

    Dear Gentle Author

    I love your perambulations around the East End !! My family all hail from many residences in and around Bethnal Green area (Hackney Rd/Hoxton Square/Hoxton Market) and I wonder if there’s any history of the of the Garwood family in the in the area and if so where I can look.

    I am a Restorer of Antique and Modern Glass now semi-retired but still do some restoration work and consultancy on the subject and visit London regularly l have a a client near Tredegar Square and following your brilliant visit with your camera must visit and investigate with my own.

    Following a long day in London Tredegar is my last visit on my way home to Bishop Stortford and it’s like taking a deep breath even though it’s minutes from the Mile End Rd and a pint in the Tredegar sets me up for the journey.
    I thank you for all your efforts highlighting the horrific developments going on which seem to be popping up like a rash every time I come up destroying our wonderful London treasures.

    Many Thanks and kind Regards John

  26. Judy P permalink
    March 30, 2023

    Admiral Sir Richard Haddock (b. c.1629), a Navy Commissioner, died on 29 Jan 1715. By his will he left his house in Mile End to his eldest son, Capt. Richard Haddock (1671-1751). Is there any way to identify exactly where this house was located and whether it still stands?
    I would like to visit it.

  27. Terry Kirkman permalink
    October 30, 2023

    What a wonderful set of photographs of Tredegar Square. As someone earlier suggested, a picture of the Coopers’ Company School would have completed the scenario. As a pupil there from 1949 -1956, I travelled up each day on the District Line from Hornchurch, where I lived, (then in the county of Essex) to Mile End Station with just a short walk to the school past the run-down tenements of Tredegar Square with their front doors open to the street. On a trip to London recently I visited the site of the old school and was pleasantly surprised to see that the building still there and converted now into flats and the playground made over to beautifully maintained gardens. These photographs really do justice to the stunning architecture of its time and in contrast to the less stunning modern developments in the area.

  28. John Muhlhaus permalink
    February 19, 2024

    I visited Mile End Road recently and was amazed by the wonderful old buildings still surviving! Please tell me what the building is adjoining the Trinity Green Almshouses on the west side. It can’t be a fire station surely as the access wouldn’t be very good for fire vehicles but it clearly had a significant purpose…

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