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A Walk Down Commercial Rd

April 8, 2015
by the gentle author

At Aldgate

As is so often the case in this country, the day following the public holiday offered better weather than any of those that preceded it. So I decided to take advantage of the sunlight to enjoy a walk down Commercial Rd with my camera. Apart from the crowds at Watney Market and those visiting the many short terraces of shops, nobody walks along the Commercial Rd much and, for most of my nearly-two-mile journey, I found myself the lone pedestrian as the traffic hurtled past.

In its name and nature, Commercial Rd was a utilitarian endeavour from the start, constructed between 1802-6 by the East India Company to bring their goods from the East & West India Docks to the City. Running in a straight line through the fields from Aldgate to Limehouse, the road was entirely lined with terraces by 1830 and many of these remain to this day as its defining characteristic, although every time I come down here more gaps appear as redevelopment fragments the remains of nineteenth century streetscape further. Yet Commercial Rd is far from featureless and, as my photos show, there is plenty to offer interest to the curious.

In 1828, the volume of traffic was such that Commercial Rd was paved over with granite and the surrounding areas upon both sides soon became a dense warren of housing and factories. By 1860, road tolls were abolished and Commercial Rd was extended to Gardiner’s Corner where it met Commercial St, cut through Spitalfields in the eighteen-fifties, delivering traffic from the docks up to the Eastern Counties Railway terminus in Shoreditch.

The Proof House

At Adler St

In Back Church Lane

Fine nineteenth century terraces

Cheviot House

Eighteen-thirties terrace

Synagogue of the Congregation of Jacob

George Tavern

George Tavern

St Mary & St Michael – Bingo Every Friday

Lea Valley Steam Laundry

Fail Solicitors

Chick King


Popular Cafe

Popular Cafe

A favourite Greengrocer

A favourite Fishmonger

A favourite Restaurant

At Limehouse Station

Brunswick Terrace

In Flamborough St

At Limehouse Basin

Our Lady & St Frederick Church

Limehouse Town Hall

St Anne’s Limehouse

Caird & Rayner

George Baker & Sons

Sailors’ Palace

After walking the length of Commercial Rd, a refreshment at The Star of the East is essential

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15 Responses leave one →
  1. April 8, 2015

    That’s a lot of territory indeed!

  2. Eastendbutcher permalink
    April 8, 2015

    A road that i know very well. I Drive along it 3 or 4 times a day. In all that time I have never noticed the red telephone box opposite The George Tavern. There are some wonderful old buildings along the way and these photographs capture them beautifully.

  3. Martin permalink
    April 8, 2015


  4. April 8, 2015

    I walked through Commercial road to school at Arbour Square for many years, and it’s good to see that a lot of the places I knew are still there. Thanks for showing the photos, Valerie

  5. April 8, 2015

    I’m inspired to do this walk after seeing your photos. It looks like you’ve captured so many businesses that have ceased trading and are waiting to be redeveloped. And I particularly like the photo of Limehouse Town Hall, with two men in the foreground, a real sense of capturing a moment in time.

  6. Jean Gaffin permalink
    April 8, 2015

    A nostalgic start to the morning – reviving two warm memories. One is pantomime at the Troxy where the only thing I remember is that we saw film star Jean Kent play principle boy and a kosher restaurant called “little Felds” – bigger Felds was in Whitechapel Road – and a Sunday treat was lunch at one or another. Am talking of well over 60 years ago.

  7. April 8, 2015

    Great remembrances of long gone centuries — I’d like to do this stroll when in London next time!

    Love & Peace

  8. Bronchitikat permalink
    April 8, 2015

    Thanks. It even looks quite pleasant without the traffic noise!

    BTW – what’s the Proof House, apart from something to do with the Gun Makers?

  9. SBW permalink
    April 8, 2015

    Thank you, you are very good at looking and seeing – not everyone is. I enjoyed your walk. s

  10. Annie permalink
    April 8, 2015

    I thought Commercial Road was dull till I saw these; how wrong one can be. It’s the name, I think. Also: well done for double bubble of George Tavern and phone box. I too would like to know what a Proof House is so am off to the intertubes to find out…

  11. April 8, 2015

    I was visiting from the US last year and was in limehouse looking at the dockland remnants/legacy and strangely enough ended up in the star of the east. great old place. great to see it mentioned.


  12. April 8, 2015

    LOved this–especially as I am watching/reading Call the Midwife 🙂

  13. April 17, 2015

    Hiya! I did a walk down the Commercial Rd a while ago, and it’s so good to see your take on it. Here’s mine, if you like.

  14. Terry wood permalink
    April 28, 2015

    Thank you so much looking @ the photos brings back great times to mind , went to St Mary,s & St Mikes school did my first school play @ limehouse town hall & married in our ladies church have just return to uk after 20 old years in Canada .

  15. Brian permalink
    May 23, 2023

    Hi would your favourite greengroucer be at the end of Whitehorse Rd.

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