George Tutill: Forest Gate resident and Trade Union banner manufacturer

Sunday, 7 February 2016


In our recent article on Forest Gate's listed buildings we mentioned (here) that the Red House, in Upton Lane, was, for a while, home to Mr Tutill, a prominent trade union banner manufacturer.


Early 20th century photo of the Red
House, Tutill residence 1871 - 1887
This was very much an understatement of Tutill's role and importance. Distinguished labour historian Gwyn A Williams wrote this of George Tutill in his introduction to John Gorman's definitive history of trade union banners, Banner Bright:


During the 1840's union banners began to be made in the general style which remained in favour for a hundred years: lavishly illustrated on both sides of silk panels, highly ornamental and trimmed up to sixteen feet by twelve feet in size to be paraded in public, stately and striking.  The uniformity, which extended to designs as well as materials was due largely to one man, George Tutill, who set up in banner making in 1837 and over the next fifty years earned for his business a virtual commercial monopoly and a world-wide market.

George Tutill lived in Upton Lane's Red House (illustrated above) between 1871 and till his death in 1887. This post is his story.


George Tutill, posing in the
 regalia of Grand Templars
 - produced by his firm 

He was born in the Yorkshire village of Howden in 1817, two years after the defeat of Napoleon and two years before the significant Peterloo massacre. His father was an illiterate miller. In 1837 the twenty year-old Tutill established the company which was to manufacture more trade union banners than any other in the world- more than three-quarters ever commercially manufactured.

Details of his life before 1837 are obscure, but the company he established in that year still survives and is now based in Chesham, Bucks.


Advert for Tutill's banner makers

The story of how Tutill came to be recognised as the 'universal provider' of trade union regalia was related to Gorman by Ronald Caffyn, whose family had a long tradition in working for Tutill's and whose father had worked with George, the founder:


George Tutill began his life as a travelling fairground showman. In those days ... it was common practice for a showman to decorate his own sideshow, caravan or roundabout, embellishing it with ornate lettering and design, which Tutill did with great style. ...Tutill first met trade unionists during his regular visits to public houses (where the union's held their meetings). He also met with the friendly societies for whom he was to produce so much in the years to come. ... On one occasion ... he was asked if he would paint a banner for a union, which held its meetings at the inn. He accepted and the members were delighted with the result.

And so began his career as a banner maker. Details of his career over the next few years are patchy.  But, as an indication of his artistic talents, a painting of his, entitled Scarborough Castle (a few miles from his native village), was exhibited at the Royal Academy.


Front cover of 1896 Tutill catalogue
 - showing various aspects of banner
 making at City Road workshop

By 1857 he was living in Islington and soon after he established his business at 83 City Road, in a purpose built workshop.. By 1860 he moved house to Canonbury, a more up-market part of Islington, a sign of his increased success and prosperity. A key to his success was moving banner-making on from a simple artisan workshop activity to an almost production-line process.

All of his banners were made from pure silk, and he built on the East London, Huguenot-influenced, tradition of silk weaving in Spitalfields and Bethnal Green.


Tutill banner from 1890's

In 1861 he took out a patent for "treating materials for the manufacture of banners and flags". It was designed to give flexibility and durability to the materials he used in the manufacture of flags, where paint and oils were mixed and then covered with a small film of india rubber, to create and preserve the pictures in the centres of his trade mark banners. The formula was so successful that some of his early banners survive today (130 years on) - images intact.


One of the brass name discs used to
 secure lead tapes to Tutill's banners

Tutill's activities at City Road were not confined to trade union banners. Regalia for Oddfellows, Masons, church Sunday schools, Bands of Hope, temperance societies, Rechabites, Orange orders and every kind of friendly society were made, to order. According to Gorman:

Satin sashes, printed emblems, aprons, collars, regalia cases, caps certificates, medals, chains, horns, girdles and even robes and false beards for the Ancient Order of Druids supplied insatiable demand.

With business flourishing, Tutill continued to prosper and in 1871 moved into the Red House, on Upton Lane.


Tutill banner from 1899

The house, itself had been built shortly before 1762 and had been inhabited by Isaac Blijdesteijn (who became and elder in the Dutch church at Austin Friars, in the City, in 1803), son of a Dutch merchant.

Tutill was to live there with his wife, Elizabeth, and their only surviving child, daughter Georgina, until his death in 1887. Elizabeth died in December 1884 and is buried in the near-by Emmanuel Churchyard, in Upton Lane.

Tutill was not one to let the grass grow under his feet, in the business world. In 1881 he installed the largest Jacquard loom in the world in his City Road premises, in order to weave the ever larger banners in a single piece.


Largest Jacquard loom in the world, installed
 at Tutill's City Road. The punch cards which
 programme the machine can be
 seen in the foreground
Tutill seems to have embraced all the elements of a successful Victorian businessman, according to Gorman. He was self-made, creative, inventive and boldly kept pace with the expansion of industrial capitalism, at home and abroad.

He soon cultivated a successful export business. In the firm's catalogue of 1896 (after his death), it stated the firm was exporting banners to Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada and "to the remotest parts of the civilised world"!
Banner believed to have been
 designed by George Tutill, himself
Tutill, himself, was presented with the highest award, a gold medal, and a special commendation at the Sydney International Exhibition of 1879. He also took prizes at exhibitions in Brisbane in 1880, Melbourne in 1881 and Adelaide in 1882. He sailed to Melbourne to pick up his award in person.

Although, over fifty years, Tutill made more trade union banners than anybody else, he did not share the political or economic sympathies of his clients. He ran a non-union company, which remained so until well after his death, in 1935.


Design from 1890's

He also obtained a great deal of business from the temperance movement, but that did not affect his fairly notorious drinking habits. He is said to have kept two barrels in his office - one filled with whisky for the drinkers and one filled with port for the non drinkers!

Tutill was a meticulous artist and business administrator and kept long-hand records of all his correspondence from 1840 onwards. Later he kept photographs of every banner the company produced. The entire collection, however (with the exception of three boxes of negatives from the 1920's) was destroyed in the blitz of 1940.

The giant Jacquard loom was removed to Braintree for the duration of the war, to preserve it, but as technology moved on, it became redundant in 1965.  It was offered to the Science Museum, who declined, and so it was broken up, for parts.


Design c 1895

The company itself, transferred to Chesham in Buckinghamshire, following the destruction of its City Road premises, after the Second World War.

Back to Tutill, himself. He died on 17 February 1887 at home, in the Red House. A large decorated stained glass memorial window was subsequently constructed at the south west end of Howden Minster. The inscription along the base of the window reads:- "To the glory of God, and in affectionate remembrance of George Tutill, Esq. Born April 16th 1817. Died Feb. 17th 1887. J B Capronnier, Bruxellensis, Fecit 1888."

The business passed to his daughter and son-in-law. Thus business continued and prospered in the boom decade on the 1890's. In the twentieth century demand for banners declined until after the First World War, when there was an upsurge in trade union banner making. Following the General Strike of 1926, demand dropped off again, until 1947, when it prospered with post war confidence (and major nationalisations).

The demand dwindled again until 1967, a year in which the firm of Tutill's did not make a single trade union banner for the first time for 130 years.

As far as the Red House was concerned, soon after Tutill's death, it was occupied by the local MP Major George Banes, who served the area until 1900. According to a certificate inside the building, by 1907 it became a local gentleman/workingman's club apparently a gift to the area by a former resident. It is not clear whether this was Banes or not. The English Heritage's version of its 20th century history is somewhat at variance with this.

Footnote: We are deeply indebted to John Gorman's 1975 book: Banner Bright (pub Allen Lane) for much of the information in this post, and also to Roger Logan's account of Tutill's roles in producing banners for friendly society's, available here 

Boxing's memory lane: Walker vs. Mildenberger fight - March 1967

Friday, 29 January 2016



We have recently acquired a piece of boxing memorabilia with sturdy Forest Gate roots. It is a copy of the programme for what was probably local boxer Billy Walker's biggest fight, when he met Karl Mildenberger at Wembley for the Heavyweight Championship of Europe, in March 1967.


Programme cover

Walker, who was brought up in Ilford, was a member of the West Ham boxing club, fought regularly at Romford Road's West Ham baths (now the Atherton suites, being rebuilt), and lived for a while on Romford Road, owned the Upper Cut Club on Woodgrange Road at the time of the fight.

The images in this article are taken from the programme of that fight. The copy, although written in a rather showmanship style, gives a clear indication of the importance of the bout in the annals of British boxing history.



Card for the night
The promoter of the fight was the legendary Harry Levene. In his introduction he mentions the fact that the Wembley bill was such big box office that even then - almost 50 years ago - it was relayed in an early close circuit television to cinemas in London, Manchester, Newcastle, Norwich, Nottingham and Southend.  Levene went on to say:


I have promoted many major tournaments in my time, including many world championship fights, but never in all my experience have I known such a rush for tickets as I have for tonight's battle between Karl Mildenberger, the holder, and our own Billy Walker, for the Heavyweight Championship of Europe.  All tickets for this big arena (Wembley's Empire Pool) were sold before I had announced one single supporting bout. This is ample proof, if it were needed that Walker is the biggest box office attraction in British boxing history.

Boxing writer, Bill Martin, provided a profile of Billy for the programme.  He said:


Billy Walker - the whole spirit of boxing


"Take 14 stone of muscle, lace it with guts and determination, top the lot with a handsome blond head and you have Billy Walker, surely the biggest drawing card in British Sport today.
Almost from the moment he first put on a boxing glove, Walker has pulled in the crowds. His amateur career, climaxed by his sensational one round knock-out of the 17 stone American Cornelius Perry, in 1961, was a spectacular interlude relished by all but his opponents. His five years as a professional have been even more colourful. When it comes down to the fundamentals, boxing is a matter of hit and be hit, and we roll up in our thousands because Walker personifies the whole spirit of the business. He lays in with joyful abandon and if he stops one or two in return well, that's show business. In these circumstances anything can happen - and usually does.
That is why Walker is the sell-out King and why nearly 11,000 are here at Wembley tonight, plus a further 40,000 at the far ends of closed circuit T.V. land lines have cheerfully put their hands in their pockets for the privilege of being in on this fracas.

Action shot, accompanying
 the article
 The drawing power will not go unrewarded. Billy's share for this, his first title fight, will be 23.5% of the take and undoubtedly part of the purse will go towards consolidating the highly successful business empire over which he rules in partnership with Big Brother George.
Partners outside the ring as well as inside, the Walkers have invested shrewdly the cash garnered by junior's flying fists. They own garages, a fleet of taxis, a petrol company, a club and a couple of restaurants.
Success of this kind is not always easy to carry and having a name that is a household word can turn a man's head. But not Walker's. Certainly he enjoys the recognition, the T.V. appearances and the glad hand, but his hat size has not changed and his feet remain firmly on the ground. he is still Billy Walker, everybody's mate.

Advert in the programme, showing
 Walker's pull as a poster boy to
 promote products.  The "Cassius"
 referred to in it, is, of course
 Mohammed Ali, his pre-Islamic
 conversion name

Beneath it all, however, lies an iron determination, a high standard of bravery and an uncompromising attitude towards his work in the ring. "Anyone who wants to keep me down", he says, "will have to nail me to the floor".
It is an attitude which has already secured his place in the story of the British heavyweight division, and it could carry him a lot further up the rocky road to the top.


Programme caption: A faceful of fists
 for Jose Menno. Two of them belong
 to him, but the other is on the end
of that punishing right arm of Billy
Walker and, as Menno's puffy
 face shows, that right really hurts!
Programme caption: Billy Walker and
 Ray Patterson pose for the inevitable
 'dear old pals' photograph after their
 terrific fight at the Royal Albert
 Hall on 6th December last.

Alas, the fight did not go to plan, and Walker was badly beaten. He takes up the story in his ghosted autobiography When the Gloves Came off:


Mildenberger was by far the most formidable opponent I'd had to face in twenty-seven pro fights. ... In addition to the capacity Wembley crowd, the fight was shown in thirteen British cinemas and theatres and beamed to Germany, France, Italy and other European countries - a total audience of 75 million, apparently. ... George and I came out with £30,000, more than enough to buy and renovate the property of our second Baked Potato restaurant which George planned to open in Chancery Lane.
I wish I could say I gave the watching millions value for money, but I can't. I did my best, as usual, went at Mildenberger from the first bell, and kept going forward, trying to land the big one, but I took a hell of a beating and I'll admit that it was the first time in my career - amateur and pro - when I was grateful that the referee called a halt; when I wanted a fight over and was content to lose.

The referee stopped the contest in the 8th round and it was the beginning of the end of Billy Walker's boxing career.  He had one more big title fight, against Henry Cooper, for the British and Commonwealth title in November that year, which he also lost, a single low key fight the following year, before bowing out after losing to British heavyweight Jack Bodell, almost two years to the day after the Mildenberger defeat.

We have written at length about Billy Walker on this site before (see here, in particular) and his Upper Cut Club on Woodgrange Road. The evening of his biggest fight, to Mildenberger came just three days after the Upper Cut's biggest billing: the Atlantic/Stax tour, featuring Otis Redding, Arthur Conley, Sam and Dave, Booker T and the MG's, Eddie Floyd etc.  See here for detail.,


Otis and co at the Upper Cut, just
 three nights before the big fight

Origins of formal education in Forest Gate

Monday, 18 January 2016


Although various charity schools were established in England before the nineteenth century, the major push towards providing formal schooling, particularly for middle and working class children, came with the development of two, competing, institutions in the nineteenth century.

The Church of England began to sponsor an organisation, The National Society for Promoting the Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Established Church, that built schools which were popularly known as "National Schools".

Non-conformist churches, in a bid to win the hearts, minds and souls of the young, sponsored a competing network of schools, via an organisation formally known as the British and Foreign School Society. These were popularly known as "British Schools".

The rivalry was fierce, and when one of the organisations appeared in an area and sponsored a school, the other often popped up to provide some competition. And so it was in Forest Gate.

Both adopted the monitorial system, where the older pupils often taught or supervised the education of the younger ones, in huge classes.  There were very often few, if any, trained teachers in these institutions.

Other schools, such as Catholic schools, independent schools, "Dame schools" and the famous Earlham Grove Music Academy also prospered in Forest Gate in the latter years of the nineteenth century. This post weaves its way around the story of these early local educators.

As we have already considered (see here), the first traceable "school" in Forest Gate was a British school; initially in the grounds of the Eagle and Child pub, and later, more formally, at the junction of Woodgrange Road and Forest Lane, in what is now an empty building (see below). 


Forest Gate's first school, at junction
 of Woodgrange Road and Forest Lane,
 which now stands empty,
 seeking a new tenant/redevelopment

The school shared the premises (on weekdays) with the Congregational church. The school became the sole occupiers of the building in 1856, when the church moved to larger premises.

The "British School's" roll was around 80 at this time, although this dropped to 65 by 1871.

The first burst of real growth of Forest Gate's population came in the decades after the establishment of the British school - mainly as a result of the development of the railways. Many of the newcomers appear to have been Church of England members, as indicated by the growth of CofE churches in the area (see a later post).

The first "National" school to be established in Forest Gate was built on land donated by Samuel Gurney, just a little north of the British school, on Woodgrange Road, in 1853. (see extract from 1867 OS map, below, for respective locations). It was known as the National Emmanuel School, because of its close relationship to Emmanuel Church on the corner of Woodgrange Road and Upton Lane.


1867 OS map, showing close  proximity of
National and British schools (top, centre)
 in Forest Gate at the time

Government building grants were received for the school in 1854, 1861 and 1867. In 1871 the average attendance was 141. In 1884 the school was handed over to the vicar of St Saviour's in nearby Macdonald Road, when that church was established.

The Education Act 1870 established School Boards in every district of the country, to be paid for from local rates - the origins of the 'nationalisation' of the British education system.

Forest Gate was covered by the West Ham School Board, which took over the local British (i.e. non-Conformist) school and maintained it until it closed, following the opening of the Odessa Road Board school, in 1874. Odessa became the area's first truly state school, with places for 703 pupils.
An early photograph of Odessa Board school,
 Forest Gate's first "state" school
Miss Cocksedge's class, Odessa School, 1885

Rapid population growth saw the school extended in 1880 and 1889, to accommodate 1,312 pupils.


A fully developed Odessa school,
 before its demolition in 1971

The 'National' schools found the prospect of  "state" opposition a threat to their control over the minds and education of the young (see reproduction of poster, below) , and fought the establishment of a local School Board energetically, as the poster indicates. They feared secularisation, and  the influence of "ungodliness".


Fierce resistance from the local Church
 of England towards the establishment
 of Board Schools in West Ham, 1870

Once it was clear the church had lost the battle over the establishment of state schools, they responded by the founding  the St James' National school, to compete with the almost adjacent Odessa school, in 1874.


St James' National school, now replaced
by rebuilt junior school

It was founded by William Bolton, the vicar of St John's in Stratford, with a roll of 395 pupils. The original Emmanuel school, now called St Saviour's, suffered as a result, and eventually closed in 1894.

Mass migration to Forest Gate in the last quarter of the nineteenth century further increased demand for school places in the area. The West Ham School Board responded with the construction of the Godwin Road school in 1885, providing facilities for 1,000 new pupils. The school, of course, survives, in a much modernised form, today.


An undated photograph of the original
 Godwin school - Forest Gate's second "state" school

The School Board also opened the Whitehall Place school, in 1896, to provide for a further 1,400 places. This survived into the second half of the twentieth century, when it was demolished, to be replaced by what is now Forest Gate Community School, on Forest Lane.
Children from Godwin school, July 1898

The first traceable Catholic school in West Ham was established in Stratford around 1815, and in Forest Gate in 1862. In that year four Ursuline nuns arrived in Upton Lane from Belgium, and as their order required, began supervising the education of young Roman Catholics in the area, and operated a boarding school. We will return in greater depth to the history of the St Angela's school they established, in a later post on this site.


Boarders at St Angela's, 1890's
By 1902 St Angela's had been recognised by the state's Board of Education as a public secondary school. A preparatory department was opened in 1903.


Boarders' study room, St Angela's c 1890


In common with other areas of the country, the East End of London saw the emergence of a number of "independent" schools in the nineteenth century, they were fee paying and some offered a reasonable standard of education and other, "Dame Schools", we often little more than child-minding bodies for working parents.


First assembly hall at St Angela's - photo pre 1914


These schools were unregulated and required no permission to establish. They were not inspected or controlled and standards were often shocking, as Dickens testified in many of his writings.

This lack of registration means that it is difficult to establish accurate numbers of these institutions  at any time, and certainly before the 1870's, to have any idea of how many children they catered for.

It was estimated, however, that there were 13 private schools in the West Ham Board area in 1904.

One of the most successful of these was the Forest Gate Collegiate School for Girls, founded in 1874 on Romford Road. This was taken over in the early years of the twentieth century and became "Clark's (private)High School for Girls and Kindergarten and Preparatory Class for Little Boys" - as a close examination of the 1910 photo, below shows!


Forest Gate Collegiate School for Girls,
established 1874, later became Clark's (private)
 High School for Girls and Kindergarten and
 preparatory Class for Little Boys - photos c 1910


Although it moved premises a time or two, it was still operating along Romford Road until the early years of World War 11. Its fate is unknown.

Neither do we have much information about the local "Dame Schools", although adverts relating to two of them survive.

One, The "Woodgrange Academy for Girls", based in Claremont Road, was sold in 1889, as indicated by the advert, although no details of fees or services offered are available.


Advert, showing change of ownership
 of Woodgrange Academy for Girls,
 Claremont Road, 1899

The second, the "Ladies' College and Elementary School" of Earlham Grove had termly fees of around £1, and offered "Special attention being given to those who are delicate or backward"!, around the year 1900.


Ladies College and Elementary School,
 Earlham Grove c 1900

We have covered the history of the Earlham Grove Music academy, and its influence beyond the area's boundaries in some depth in this early post on this blog.

Future articles in this blog will look at post 1900 education in Forest Gate and examine the history of one or two specific local schools.

Forest Gate's listed buildings (2)

Saturday, 9 January 2016


This is the second of two articles featuring nine of Forest Gate's English Heritage Listed buildings. The first appeared last week (see immediately below), and can provide an introduction to this, thus avoiding unnecessary repetition. The tenth Listed building in Forest Gate was featured in our article on Forest Gate's First £2m house? (here).

Red House, Upton Lane - listed 1998


House, later converted into club. There was a building on this site in 1717 and c1760 brickwork to north gable and east front survives, but this building was extensively remodelled in the 1880's.

In 1933 it became a club, with the 1940's caretaker's flat raised to two storeys in the 1960's, erected on site of late C19 kitchen and services. The entire ground floor of the east elevation was converted into a single bar.

Principal west front of 1880s of red brick with stuccoed dressings; roof concealed by parapet and end brick chimneystacks. Two storeys and basement; six windows. Larger projecting bay to north under curved gable has four-light French windows and balcony with pierced balustrade over canted bay to ground floor.


Red House c 1907
Other windows are tall casements. Parapet has panels of pierced balustrading and elaborate urns. Moulded bands between floors and end quoins. Wide porch with cornice having central curved pediment with raised design and pierced balustrading to balcony supported on four rusticated Tuscan columns.
North front is mainly C 18 brickwork and east elevation has full-height bowed bay of the same date. Interior features remain of the 1880's.

Entrance hall has imperial staircase with elaborate wrought and cast iron balustrading with mahogany handrail and series of doors, some with carved surrounds. North ground floor room has marble fireplace with round-headed arch, bearded masked keystone and high relief panels of fruit.

South room has some Minton floor tiles. Both rooms have c1880 window shutters and plaster cornices. Roof structure is of 1880s.

Bell of 1762 in upstairs front office has been resited from a demolished cupola on the roof A Dutch merchant lived in a house here in 1717. Later it was the home of Mr Tuthill (for details of this important resident, see a later post), the manufacturer of early trade union banners and in 1933 it became St Anthony's Catholic Club. 

The building was in some disrepair by the 1990's, but with the assistance of English Heritage and Newham Council, it was given a thorough facelift around the time of listing.  The inside, however, is still in a rather poor state (certainly given its origins and history) and is kept going by the hard work of volunteers at the club. There has to be some doubt as to how long this shoestring funding approach can be sustained. What then? would be a massive problem for a whole host of organisations.

Rothschild's Mausoleum, Cemetery Road - listed 1984


Mausoleum 1866: Architect - Sir Mattew Digby Wyatt. A circular domed stone building with Renaissance detail. On principal axis of cemetery. Engaged Corinthian columns. Enriched wall surface between. Rectangular windows under cornice with elaborate iron grilles.


Evelina Rothschild's memorial,
 Jewish cemetery
Richly carved entablature and parapet. Parapet and fluted dome finished with vases. Mausoleum erected by Ferdinand de Rotherschild to wife Evelina.

Old Spotted Dog, Upton Lane - listed 1967


Timber-framed building, later a public house, dating in part to the late-C15 or early-C16 with subsequent phases of the late-Georgian, Victorian and post-WWII periods.

Exterior: The central range of the main frontage, a timber-framed two-bay hall with open crown post roof, is the earliest part of the building and dates to the late-C15 or early-C16. There are two doors, both with C19 joinery, leading into the building here and the tiled roof eaves come right down to their architraves; there is a brick stack to the right of this range too.


1838 sketch of Old Spotted Dog
This early core is flanked by two-storey cross-wings, also timber-framed, that to the right contemporary with the central hall and that to the left dating from slightly later. Both have jettied, weather-boarded upper storeys with horizontal sliding sashes in the gables and rough-cast rendered ground floors; both jetties rest on later supports, a brick return wall to the left-hand wing and iron posts to the right on the eastern return.


1903 painting, by H Smart,
 courtesy of Newham archives
The cross-wing to the left has a four-centre arched door and a large window with marginal glazing on the ground floor, that to the right just a window opening, with an entrance on the canted corner to the return. This return, facing east, has a late-C19 bay window on the ground floor and more sashes on the first. Further along the return is an extension, weather-boarded in keeping with the original, but dates to 1968 and lacks special interest. Above it the gables of the Victorian part of the building are visible, complete with bargeboards and finials.

The return to the west has two Edwardian porches and a brick chimney flue, also of a C19 or later date, as well as further sash windows. Beyond is the addition of the late-Georgian period, possibly a house originally, a stock brick range with a slate hipped roof, gauged brick arches to the sash windows and brick pilasters. The windows to the right have been altered or bricked in and the door altered too; it once had a canopy and porch.

A two-storey extension with metal casements dating to the second half of the C20 abuts this building to the north. Alongside this are a single-storey 1980s function room and a garage. None of these three parts of the building have special interest.

On the contrary, the Victorian sections, visible above ground floor and identifiable through their stock brick elevations with red brick dressings, timber sash windows, decorative bargeboards to the gables and slate roofs, do contribute to the interest of the building. 

Interior: In the single room of the central hall, the roof is partly-exposed. This is a crown post with lateral head braces and the timber is hand-sawn but without particular embellishment in the form of chamfers, stops, or other carving. To the right, set under the tie beam, is an inserted stack with hearth, timber bressummer, iron grate and oven. To the left, the wall has a later opening in its upper part looking through to the roof trusses of the cross-wing.

A serving bar and back bar along the back of this room appear Victorian in date, as is some of the other joinery; other elements are modern. The floor is paved with York flagstones. The cross-wing to the left has a crown post roof with studs and braces to the walls.

The ground floor ceiling is supported by Victorian iron colonettes and contains later fireplaces and panelling. The cross-wing to the right has a tie beam and moulded wall plate but no other elements of the roof are visible. There is a simple late-Georgian timber fireplace in the upper room in this wing, some plain partitioning of the same date in another and a sash window in a third room which may indicate the old end wall of the range.

On the ground floor the principal beams in the ceiling are moulded and there are various items of panelling and other joinery including fireplaces dating to no later than the C19. Inside the later sections to the rear, both late-Georgian and Victorian, there are no fireplaces, bar counters or staircases of historic interest as the building was refurbished in the second half of the C20 and much of the fabric dates to this period. 

The interior of the Victorian section of the pub is characterised by a medley of timber-framed structures including one section that appears to be a jettied external wall of a timber-framed building, but that does not relate in its location to the late-medieval parts of the building. Some of the timbers are old, others newer, and most are painted with brown paint.

A photograph of 1967 shows a gap in the external wall in this area and the timbers do not appear to be present; photos from 1968 show the interior as it is now. It is likely that most of the internal fabric in this part of the pub was assembled from timbers, perhaps salvaged from elsewhere, in the refurbishment of 1968. It lacks special interest.

History: Originally a house, the Spotted Dog was later converted to a pub, possibly in the early-C19 when it appears on Clayton's map of 1821 labelled 'The Dog'. On an earlier map, by Chapman and Andre of 1777, it is not given a name, despite other public houses nearby being marked, so it was presumably a private abode at that time. A range (which appears domestic and may have originally served as the publican's house) was added in the late-Georgian period, before 1840. 

In 1839 the proprietor was a William Vause whose family held the lease until 1917. Vause advertised his business to Londoners in search of resort: a C19 poster survives showing the building and boasting of its 'spacious dining room and billiards' and 'good accommodation for cricket and other field sports'.


Vause poster advertising
 Spotted Dog, see above text.
The billiards room may have been a modification of the late-Georgian range; it appears on later photographs with a timber lantern on the roof, which may have lit the games room. At that time the Spotted Dog overlooked playing fields to the west and gardens to the north. Under the Vauses, the old pub was enlarged further, probably in the decades between 1867 and 1896 when its footprint alters on the Ordnance Survey maps. 

The area around the Spotted Dog changed dramatically in the late-C19 and early-C20, and by the outbreak of WWI the claim on the Victorian poster that the pub was located in 'one of the most pleasant parts of Essex' was no longer true, not least because from 1888 the Spotted Dog has been in the County Borough of West Ham.

Terraced houses lined nearby streets, the cricket field became the home of Clapton FC (the club remains there to this day) and the pub sold off some of its gardens. The pace of change accelerated in the second half of the C20 and further additions and alterations were made to the building, including major internal refurbishment and extension in 1968, before it fell out of use at the end of the C20.

Reasons for designation: The Spotted Dog public house is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* a well-surviving, if simply constructed, late-C15 or early-C16 house comprising central hall and flanking two-storey cross wings, these with weather-boarded jetties;
* interesting interior including exposed timbers, hearth with bressummer, other fireplaces and historic joinery including a Victorian bar and back bar;
* particular poignancy as a rare-surviving late-medieval building in this area, evoking the rural character that could be enjoyed here until the middle of the C19, when this part of old Essex was lost to the expanding capital.


As a working pub, early 21st century
(see here for a previous, more general history of the Old Spotted Dog)

There are, in addition to the Forest Gate buildings highlighted above, a number of Listed buildings in Manor Park which relate to articles we have previously featured on this site. Among these are seven in the various cemeteries within the post code - mainly the City of London, plus the Manor House (featured recently in our potted history of Manor Park).

Additionally, the Earl of Essex pub, now standing empty and in search of a developer, which featured in Ben Drew's film Ill Manors and the Coronation Cinema, which for a while was a snooker hall and now a (mainly) Asian banqueting hall, just around the corner.

We are deeply indebted to English Heritage for their efforts in attempting to preserve key aspects of our architectural history.  We acknowledge and are most grateful for their Listed Buildings website (here), from which we have taken most of the material (though not the photos) in this article.  We recognise their copyright of the material.

Forest Gate's early transport history

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

As construction works begins in earnest around Forest Gate station now, and next year on the Goblin line, to facilitate the next stage in the area's transport story, and future development, it seems worth a pause to look at how early road and railway construction helped make Forest Gate what it is today.

London's rapid population growth in the eighteenth century put a strain on the roads bringing foodstuffs and raw materials to the capital. One such road was the old Roman road from London to Colchester, which was, by this time, known as Essex (now Romford) Road. It  passed on its way through West Ham on its way to London, from the Eastern Counties
.
The road was described by Daniel Defoe in his 1720's publication A Tour Through The Whole Island of Great Britain as:


That great road from London thro' this whole county towards Ipswich and Harwich which is most worn with wagons, carts and carriages and with infinite droves of black cattle, hogs and sheep of any road in England.
It was the need to improve the road that lead the section between Whitechapel and Shenfield being created a Turnpike Trust (toll road) in 1722 - essentially what is now Romford Road. Defoe commented that:


All those villages are increased in buildings in a strange degree ... and the towns of West Ham, Plaistow, Upton etc. (so insignificant was Forest Gate in its own right at this time that it was bundled up in Defoe's etc!) in all which places above a thousand new foundations have been erected ... this increase is of handsome large houses ... being chiefly for the habitation of the richest citizens (see future articles in this blog featuring the development of Upton, and Upton Lane, in particular) ... there are no less than 200 coaches kept.
J Gibson's 1776 map of a road from  London to Great
 Yarmouth. The  original route of the A12 mostly  ran on
this alignment, particularly the  Roman Road from
 London to Colchester
 A survey of road traffic entering London from the East in 1830 showed that 494 wagons passed along the road each week, along with a thousand head of cattle, 8,000 sheep, 400 pigs and 150 calves.

In addition, private carriages had driven over 350,000 miles along the road and people on horseback rode over 700,000 miles along it during that year.

The road was struggling to cope, and ambitious plans for developing a steam locomotive along the route were drawn up. According to plans in the Essex Record Office, an 1803 proposal envisaged horse drawn locomotives being transported over railway lines, to their destination on the Essex coast.

In the event, the scheme, which would have seen an early "railway" rattle through Forest Gate, came to nothing.

It was over thirty years, 1836, before two railway schemes, each playing a major role in the development of Forest Gate, received the Royal Assent.

The first came from the Commercial Railway Company, built to improve the haulage of both goods and passengers between Brunswick Wharf, at Blackwall and the City. The second was the Eastern Counties Railway, promoted to transport coal from Great Yarmouth (a considerably more important port then, than today) to London.

The original proposed route  for the Eastern Counties line was to start at Shoreditch High Street and head eastwards, via Bethnal Green to Mile End.

Here the railway was to veer south, to Old Ford and cross the marshes to Stratford (see engraving, below). The preferred route from Strafford through Forest Gate was for a straight line running in parallel, north of the Turnpike.

On the plans submitted to Parliament, an alternative route, passing north of Forest Gate's Eagle and Child pub was shown. In the event, this was not adopted, and the original proposal was used for the route.

The surveyors recorded the following properties along the route as being in Forest Gate. From West to East: Prospect Place, containing 12 cottages and a small chapel, Chapel Place with six cottages with gardens, Pleasant Place, with 8 cottages with gardens and Whitehall Place, with 8 cottages.  All these places were owned by John Pickering Peacock.


Extract from 1867 OS map of Forest Gate,
 not location of original railway station,
 not on Woodgrange Road,
 but a hut on Forest Lane
Then came the Eagle and Child and two cottages, owned by the brewers Combe Dalafield and Company. Next was a series of properties including the houses and gardens of John Brown and William Leverton, buildings and yards owned by Joshua Pedley and the cottage owned by Richard Curtis (no, not that one!) Finally came a place called Hoppett by the Lane, a meadow with a cottage and garden and the Mansion House buildings and yard, all these being owned by John Greenhill.

John Braithwaite was appointed engineer of the Eastern Counties Railway and the Railway Magazine was quick to point out his inexperience, and woeful track record, to date. It, with a note of irony, predicted that it would take him until 1836 (i.e. a hundred years) to complete the construction to Great Yarmouth.

The first twelve miles of the line were, in fact, opened in June 1839 - from Shoreditch to Romford. Two days later, the line experienced its first accident, when both the driver and his stoker were killed, when the locomotive "leapt off the track". The driver, John Meadows had been dismissed previously by another railway company for "furious driving".


East County Railways coming to  Stratford,
engraving 1837,  featuring  a bridge over
 the River Lee, on extreme left of picture.
River is foreground  is Bow Back river,
 on way to Bow Bridge
The first Forest Gate station was opened in 1841. It originally consisted of a small wooden structure, with an entrance on Forest Lane (see location, on Forest Lane, in the extract from the 1867 OS map, above). It was only, originally, served by two trains a day and so poor were the passenger numbers that it was closed, because of lack of trade, between 1844 and 1846.

In 1845 the shareholders of the Eastern Counties railway invited George Hudson ("The Railway King") to help bail them out. Hudson was a crook, but was the inspiration behind building the railway works and sidings in Stratford. 

In gratitude, part of West Ham was named after him.

The railway workers in Stratford needed homes, and soon housing was constructed by building societies in parts of Forest Gate, to accommodate them.

Although, under Hudson, trains began to service Forest Gate once more, the service was pretty poor.  As late as 1863, John Spencer Curwen, who was behind the Earlham Grove Musical academy (see here), wrote:


The trains were few and uncertain ... Ten or twenty minutes belatement we thought nothing of. Sometimes trains did not come at all ... I do not think there were more than seven or eight trains each way per day. On an average, about six people entered or left at Forest Gate.
"Railway Mania" was an appropriate term to describe the chaos created by rival companies, essentially serving the same area and competing furiously, and often unscrupulously for passengers and freight.


The second Forest Gate station, c 1900, when
 the roundel was incorporated into the station.


Early "tourism", rail day excursions and publications like Bradshaws were produced to cater for the rapid development of railways not just for business, but for leisure too. Bradshaws became almost a bible for travellers, providing early versions of what we, today, would call travel guides, offering lengthy descriptions of the key points of interest in and around railway towns and stations.

It's contributors were clearly not too impressed with what Forest Gate had to offer in 1863.  The extract, below is the totality of their description:



And so yet another railway came to service the area, this time in the 1890's, and actually featured Forest Gate in its title. This was called the Tottenham and Forest Gate Railway (the core of what is now better known as the Gospel Oak to Barking - Goblin, or Chimney Pot - Line).

It was to link the Midland railway, at Tottenham, with the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway at their junction with the Great Eastern (formerly Eastern Counties Railway). (Confused? You aren't alone). See map, below, for clearer portrayal.
Simplified railway map, c 1914,
 showing stations, lines and features
The Tottenham and Forest Gate railway met much popular opposition, as over a hundred recently constructed houses in Forest Gate had to be demolished to make way for the viaducts that carried the railway through the district.

The railway opened in 1894 and was soon running, in conjunction with other companies, trains between St Pancras and Tilbury, via the newly opened stations of Woodgrange Park and Wanstead Park.

The company soon needed more rolling stock to cater for its expanding numbers of passengers, so in 1897-8 it commissioned the construction of 12 engines to service the line. Each was named after an Essex town, or place on its route, one of which was called the Forest Gate - see photo.  This, like the other in the series (LTSR 37-48), was in almost continuous commission until it was scrapped, in 1951.


The London, Tilbury and Southend
 railway's 1897 locomotive: Forest Gate
Forest Gate was now well served, and heavily dependent on railways, as a form of transport. The six or eight passengers a day of 1841, rose to over 10,000 immediately prior to World War One.


1909 Great Eastern Railway third
 class ticket: 1d (less than half of 1p!)
 for Forest Gate to Maryland
Yet another form of local public transport was being developed to help with the commuting needs of the Forest Gate and area's population from the 1870's: trams.  See our earlier post (here) on their history in the district.