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What Happened To Tadmans

April 25, 2019
by the gentle author

February 2019

April 2019

Although Tadmans in Jubilee St, Whitechapel, was two hundred years old, it was not a listed building or in a Conservation Area which means there was no protection for it in planning law. Originally built as part of the Mercers’ Estate, constructed at the same time as Commercial Rd in the early nineteenth century, this fine Georgian corner building was a landmark for generations of East Enders who knew it first as the Mercers Arms, then as a greengrocer and more recently as the Stepney branch of Tadman’s, a family firm of local undertakers.

Neither the Spitalfields Historic Buildings Preservation Trust nor the East End Preservation Society knew of the plans to demolish Tadmans until after permission had been granted. The unprotected status of the beautiful old building, which Historic England refused to list, meant that no wider consultation was necessary. It was within the scope of planning law for the application to be decided by a case officer in the planning department without any even requirement to go to Tower Hamlets Development Committee.

After NW1 Developments Ltd received permission in May 2018 to demolish Tadmans and replace it with a block of luxury flats (without any ‘affordable’ housing) in generic spread-sheet architecture, they submitted a secondary application for a more ambitious development. It was only at this point that the Spitalfields Trust and the East End Preservation Society found out about the application and submitted objections, after the event. This was also when readers of Spitalfields Life wrote to object, taking advantage of the opportunity to request that Tadmans not be demolished.

At that moment there was an expectation that public opinion might be taken into account and, when the developers then withdrew their second application, there was hope that they had listened and Tadmans would be saved. Yet when the scaffolding went up earlier this month, it became apparent that the developers were going ahead with their original application, for which permission had already been granted, and demolition commenced.

In Hackney, the council planning department circulate monthly summaries of heritage-related planning applications to the relevant public amenity societies such as The Hackney Society. It is a great pity that Tower Hamlets cannot do the same. If the Spitalfields Trust and East End Preservation Society had known about the application to demolish Tadmans before it had been approved, there might have been a chance to save it.

Tadmans and some Regency terraces to the north of Jubilee St are all that remain of the original streetscape before the harsh post-war destruction and imposition of inferior modern buildings upon Stepney in the name of ‘slum clearance.’ If the remaining historic buildings are not in a Conservation Area because of the redevelopment that surrounds them, it does not make them less worthy of protection. Tower Hamlets Council has a statutory duty to protect heritage assets, including those not listed or in Conservation Areas. It was a responsibility that they failed to uphold on this occasion and the East End is a lesser place for it.

Geoffrey Fletcher recognised the distinctive nature of Tadmans when he drew it for his elegaic book, The London Nobody Knows, half a century ago – yet regrettably Tadmans is now consigned to history just as he feared.

The replacement for Tadmans by architects Studio V

Geoffrey Fletcher’s drawing of Tadmans from The London Nobody Knows, 1962

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33 Responses leave one →
  1. Georgina Briody permalink
    April 25, 2019

    As one who wrote objecting, I’m saddened to read about the demolition of Tadmans.

  2. Ruth Hope permalink
    April 25, 2019

    That’s disgraceful. What a limited way to think. No sense of social responsibility.

  3. rebecca bowden permalink
    April 25, 2019

    I’m at a complete loss to understand why councillors in the UK are so hell bent on destroying our heritage when every other city in Europe is going out of their way to preserve theirs. The people who passed this for destruction should hang their heads in shame.

  4. April 25, 2019

    Once again, greed causes senseless destruction. The higher the building, the lower the morals. So sad. Valerie

  5. Mark F permalink
    April 25, 2019

    This is a disgusting planning decision.

  6. Jamie Surman permalink
    April 25, 2019

    They don’t call them ‘Tower Hapless’ for nothing. An absolute disgrace…

  7. daphne steele permalink
    April 25, 2019

    This dreadful decision by councillors with no concept of history and heritage or pride in their borough adds to my concern for the future of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry.

  8. Chris Scull permalink
    April 25, 2019

    A woeful decision by a pitifully inept planning authority – is THC unaware of its own policies on heritage and placemaking?

  9. April 25, 2019

    Little gem of a building I knew well.
    Money grasping seems to be the paradigm of planners in Tower Hamlets.
    Historic England should be abolished!

  10. Helen permalink
    April 25, 2019

    I also wrote to object and received the letter informing me that the developers application had been withdrawn. I thought that the building was safe from development and I’m gutted to learn that this wasn’t the case.

  11. April 25, 2019

    Shame on Historic England for not affording this building protection from the corporate greed that is creeping through the East End.
    A fine example of Georgian architecture airbrushed out of existence at the stroke of a case officer’s pen……it’s disgraceful.

  12. Jill Wilson permalink
    April 25, 2019

    Terrible news – disgraceful AND disgusting, and a shocking photo of the destroyed building.

    And a horribly bland scheme to replace it. What a dreadful loss for Stepney. When will the thoughtless destruction end??


  13. Chris Hall permalink
    April 25, 2019

    I remember buying rolls there before it was Tadmans.
    Mo e gentrification of the East End. Slowly loose no all is character to the mighty Dollar!
    It sickens me.

  14. Jill Q permalink
    April 25, 2019

    What botched planning and destruction for post War Stepney that the local authorities didn’t complete at the time, obviously continues now. This time it’s underhand and the result of developer greed. Stepney has lost so many streetscapes and buildings. More faceless apartments this time – part of the impetus to remove anything interesting, historic and distinctive and replace it with the identikit. Tower Hamlets should be ashamed…I doubt they value their historic heritage at all.

  15. Caroline Bottomley permalink
    April 25, 2019

    Shame on you Tower Hamlets case officer

  16. Stuart permalink
    April 25, 2019

    Disgusting yes, surprising not really.

  17. Bernie permalink
    April 25, 2019

    So sad! I cherished the hope that it exemplified the sort of house inhabited by my grandparents at one time, 16 Jubilee St, of which I had no other illustration.

    One odd feature that I hope someone might be able to account for is the lintel spanning three first-floor windows. Could it be a block of stone? If concrete, what does that say about date of construction?

  18. Bernard Steel permalink
    April 25, 2019

    Apart from anything else (Tower Hamlets wilful ignorance), what really gets me is the anodyne, bland effort that will replace it. “Architects” (sic) Studio V should be ashamed of themselves.

  19. Harry Harrison permalink
    April 25, 2019

    It is completely shocking and disgraceful that such a large scale development can be approved using delegated powers. It is an abuse of due process and open to all sorts of chicanery.

  20. mlaiuppa permalink
    April 25, 2019

    Who are “Tower Hamlets”? How does one get on this board? Because you need YOUR people on there. It sounds to me that they are stacked with nothing but developers and their cronies and that is why this happens.

    How goes the fight for the Mulberry tree?

  21. Leana Pooley permalink
    April 25, 2019

    That’s a horrible shock. The replacement block is typically low grade.

  22. April 25, 2019

    I think the construction of the second story was the result of bomb damage.
    Another part of the history of the building.

  23. Sue Mayer permalink
    April 25, 2019

    Yet another historical building lost forever. I too objected but clearly we were all ignored.

    Greed is changing the look of London 🙁

  24. Maureen Cocklin (nee Buckle) permalink
    April 25, 2019

    Once again a lovely building demolished in order to build something that’s faceless all in the name of greed. London has beautiful old buildings and ugly new ones. So sad we are ruining our lovely city.

  25. Anne permalink
    April 25, 2019

    We need a neighbourhood watch ,for buildings.
    Read the planning applications placed on lamp posts and object!

  26. Elaine Browne permalink
    April 25, 2019

    That is a crime, we are still losing so many old buildings.

  27. Patricia Davies permalink
    April 25, 2019

    Disgusted and Sad!
    Everywhere Old buildings are being pulled down, they say its progress but its just about money.
    We who care about the destruction of these gorgeous old buildings, do not really have a say.
    The look of the new builds have no character and the councils just don’t care!
    I’m So Sorry this lovely building has been demolished!

  28. Noelle permalink
    April 29, 2019

    The venality of Councils is total. They are not interested in anything else but money. They don’t care about people who genuinely live in an area as their real home, not their “I’ll rent here for 6 months before I go and tick off another place on my bucket list”. They don’t insist on an affordable quota of flats . Why not? In my view, there can only be one reason….
    We face the destruction of our city. This is more disastrous than the 70s.

    The same situation pertains in many fine cities across Europe.

    Greed and corruption has the day.

  29. Paula Bodington permalink
    April 30, 2019

    Unbelievable the insensitivity of this decision

  30. Jeannette permalink
    May 1, 2019

    shocking. so sorry.

  31. Bev permalink
    August 25, 2019

    What a shame. My grandfather was A Tadman who was an undertaker there in the 60s… Unfortunately we left for South Africa in 64 and I didn’t see him again. I’m sure he would be so upset to see that building destroyed. Very sad.

  32. Paul Ridgway permalink
    December 17, 2019

    Keep an eye on:

    Get the law changed so that appeals can be heard from third parties.

    Ask your MP to take up your case.

  33. Molly permalink
    February 16, 2024

    Why did TH allow this. Look deeper was there a hand shake to allow this. No one ever queries why. Maybe Im suspicious but there have been many councillors who had a hand in rebuilds

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