Skip to content

Stan Jones Of Mile End

August 25, 2021
by the gentle author

Stan Jones

Such has been the movement of people and the destruction and reconstruction of neighbourhoods in the last century that I often wonder if anyone at all is left here from the old East End. So you can imagine my delight when I met Stan Jones of Mile End who has lived in his house for more than eighty years, moving there at the age of ten from a nearby street.

Contributing Photographer Sarah Ainslie & I were enchanted to be welcomed by Stan to his extraordinary home where nothing has ever been thrown away. Every inch of the house and garden has found its ideal use in the last eight decades and Stan is a happy man living in his beloved home that is also the repository of his family history.

Fortunately for us Stan has been taking photographs all this time, starting out in the days of glass plate negatives, and below you can see a few examples of his handiwork. Famously, Stan photographed the exterior of his house from the Coronation in 1953 and his picture was published in The Times, which has led to return visits by the daily newspapers on subsequent occasions of national celebration to record Stan’s unchanging decorations on the front of his unaltered house.

Most inspiring to me was Stan’s sense of modest satisfaction with his existence in his small house backing onto the railway line. Mercifully untroubled by personal ambition, Stan has immersed himself in domesticity and creative pastimes, and enjoyed fulfilment at the centre of his intimate community over all this time. Such is his contentment that not even a World War with bombs dropping from the sky could drive Stan out of his home. Stan never had any desire to go anywhere else because he found that all which life has to offer may be discovered in a back street in Mile End.

“I was born nearby in Coutts Rd in 1929 and I came here with my mother and father in March 1939, so I have lived in this house for eighty years. I have no brothers or sisters and I never married. I did have one cousin until last December, but he has gone now and my closest relative is his daughter who lives in Hornchurch.

My mother was Ethel and father was Arthur, they were both from Stepney. My grandparents all lived in Stepney, just across the other side of Mile End Road. My mother was one week older than my father but they both passed away within nine weeks of each other in 1978, when they were seventy-five.

My father was an engineer, repairing steam lorries, until he got a job with the council as mace bearer to the Mayor. Also he was personal messenger to the Town Clerk of Stepney, all through the war he carried messages around on a bike.

My mother was a machinist until the day she got married, then she never went out to work any more. Before fridges and freezers, women had to go out shopping every day to buy food and look after the children. He had to work to feed her, keep her in clothes and pay the rent, which was about a pound a week. That was their life.

I had a happy childhood but it was very lonely, I never had friends, I always had hobbies indoors. I hardly got any education. I only went to Malmesbury Rd School for a few months before the war started and the schools shut down. Most children were evacuated but I never went away, I did not want to.  I was here right through the war. I went back to school for about six months after the war and that was my education because you left school at fourteen in those days. I must have educated myself because I did not have much schooling.

On the first night of the air raids, a row of houses down this road got a direct hit. Most nights, I was in the Anderson shelter with my mother. We were down there when the bomb fell just along the road and when a flying bomb hit the railway bridge and ripped it in half and the two halves were lying in the road. I must have been frightened but I cannot remember.

My father did not go into the army because the Town Clerk was a barrister and made him exempt. Instead, he was in the Home Guard out on duty at the Blackwall Tunnel or wherever.

My mother was not well after the war and she was not keen to push me in to work, so I was about fifteen before I started work at a shopfitters in Commercial St.  I was with them for forty-eight years, that was my working life. I started in packing, then became a despatch manager and finally warehouse manager, keeping check of stock.

I had a Brownie box camera, and I took pictures if we went out for a day at the seaside and at local celebrations. My photograph of this house decorated for the Coronation in 1953 was published in The Times. But I did not go out a lot as I say, because a lot of my photography was not actually taking pictures. I did a lot of black and white processing for other people. I had a dark room upstairs and, in summer, when people were taking photos I was the one upstairs developing their films. This was all for neighbours, people at work, you know. If they took them to the chemist, they would have to wait a week to get them back, but they got them back next morning from me!

Never being married, I was not pushed into a better paid job. In 1946 my first week’s wages were £2.50 and a rise was twelve and a half pence. It improved as the years went on, although not top wages. I never had a pension scheme but, for my loyalty, they gave me a monthly allowance.

I am very happy here in this house. Most of the others have been extended, but this one is as it was built.”

Stan at home

Arthur & Ethel Jones at their wedding on Christmas Day in 1928

Ethel at Brighton in the thirties

Arthur with Stan at Brighton in the thirties

Stan in his pedal car in the thirties

Stan’s photograph of his childhood dog

Stan’s photograph of a train at the end of his garden – ‘Sometimes our cats strayed onto the railway tracks and never came back, one returned without a tail!’

Arthur Jones stands at the centre of this group of steam lorry drivers in the thirties

Arthur Jones escorts the Mayor of Stepney and King George the Sixth with the Queen Mother to visit the bombing of Hughes Mansions in Vallance Rd

The Mayor’s chauffeur comes to pick up Arthur for his mace-bearing duties

Arthur stand on the left as Clement Attlee speaks

Arthur Jones leads the procession through Stepney to St Mary & St Michaels Church

Ethel & Arthur Jones in the back garden

Stan shows the glass plate of his famous photograph

Stan’s photograph of his parents in 1953 that was published in The Times

Stan’s recent decorations for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

Stan Jones outside his house today

Stan’s photograph of entertainment for the Coronation Party in Mile End, 1953

Stan’s photograph of the conga at the Coronation Party in Mile End, 1953

Stan’s photograph of a display at the shopfitters where he worked

Stan’s photograph of mannequins

Stan as a youth

Ethel & Arthur Jones in later years

Stan Jones in his garden today

Portraits copyright © Sarah Ainslie

You may also like to read about

In Mile End Old Town

21 Responses leave one →
  1. mlaiuppa permalink
    August 25, 2021

    How very wonderful. I love Stan’s house and that he has kept it as it was. It is so nice to read that he had been able to stay there all his life.

    I guess the advantage to living right up to the train tracks is no developer wants to take your house from you and build a boutique hotel.

  2. Glenn permalink
    August 25, 2021

    Stan appears to have had a contented life! These social history stories are my favourites of yours, GA. Thank you.

  3. Jeremy permalink
    August 25, 2021

    A wonderful heart moving read .. seeing a whole life in pictures and words ..

  4. Herry Lawford permalink
    August 25, 2021

    Loved reading this

  5. August 25, 2021

    What a delightful and heartwarming story about a real Eastender.
    Stan’s photographs are so evocative and have taken me on another trip down memory lane to the East End I knew.
    I still have my father’s mirror, exactly like the one hanging on a chain in Stan’s living room.
    Thank you Stan for sharing your story with the GA and with us.

  6. August 25, 2021

    A touching story, indeed! I wish Stan Jones many more wonderful years in his home. And may he stay healthy!

    Love & Peace

  7. August 25, 2021

    Diamond Geezer is asking a similar question today (!)
    I have been 73 years at the same address, in E17 ….

  8. Nicola permalink
    August 25, 2021

    Heart-warming story

  9. August 25, 2021

    Loved seeing Stans story. My grandad was born in Stepney, Stans pictures have given me an insight to what life was like there.

  10. Kelly Holman permalink
    August 25, 2021

    Wishing Stan many more contented years in his wonderful home.

  11. Luiz Gravata permalink
    August 25, 2021

    What a fantastic this blog ! Congratulations !

  12. August 25, 2021

    What a fabulous visual documentary of our East end. Thank you Stan.

  13. August 25, 2021

    How lovely and amazing that Stan has lived in his house all his life. I hope he has many more years to come. Great story.

  14. Cherub permalink
    August 25, 2021

    What a lovely story, beautifully told. Stan’s dad’s job as mace bearer to the Mayor sounds very grand. I assume the headline on the Evening Standard that the dog is holding is about Ruth Ellis, a tragic story.

  15. Liz permalink
    August 25, 2021

    Love the story, thank you. And loving the lack of cars on Mile End! Any children doing the conga on that road today would be mowed over by cars.

  16. Paul Loften permalink
    August 25, 2021

    Stan is an amazing find . Are you quite sure it wasn’t Basildon or Harlow and you didn’t get lost ?

  17. Bill permalink
    August 25, 2021

    The gothikey-looking wallpaper in the first photograph is flocked, isn’t it? And the second color photograph shows a very attractive neoclassical sort of paper. I like both of them.

    “Model found guilty of murder- sentenced to death”.

    Not a very model model, was she? Hah, hah!

    I’m just glad that sweet doggie couldn’t read that headline- might have frightened him!

  18. August 25, 2021

    What a moving story. Stan sounds contented with his lot, and looks like he takes care of himself. Long may his health stay good.

  19. Kirsten Finucane permalink
    August 25, 2021

    What a lovely heart-warming story, while at the same time a fascinating piece of “old London” history!

  20. Patrícia Ribeiro permalink
    August 26, 2021

    So wonderful! I love the picture of him as a baby in Brighton on his Dad’s lap. What is so touching for me is to see how content and satisfied he seems with his life, his home. It’s a lesson to us, endless unsatisfied people. I wish I was like that, genuinely happy. So much history in those pictures

  21. Margaret smith permalink
    April 1, 2024

    Just 2 say my nan lived at no 35 coutts Rd in the 50s n n early 60s her name was Hughes

Leave a Reply

Note: Comments may be edited. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS